94-year-old puts clubs away after making a hole-in-one
Brandon Hannahs, Reporter, Times Recorder
ZANESVILLE – Two aspects of Ben Bender’s life – faith and golf – came together for his final round on the course.
The 93-year-old, who has hip bursitis, used his 5-wood to make a hole-in-one on the third hole last month at Green Valley.
Bender, who was born in Zanesville, only played a few more holes before walking into the clubhouse and telling Green Valley manager Steve Galloway that he was done.
Hearl Cubbison witnessed Bender’s shot.
“I’d come close to some hole-in-ones, but this one was level on the green before it curved towards the hole and went in,” Bender said. “I was in awe watching it. I played a few more holes, but my hips were hurting and I had to stop. It seemed the Lord knew this was my last round so he gave me a hole-in-one.”
The round wasn’t going well, noted Galloway. He said Bender shot at least a 7 on the other five holes he played, but it just takes one shot to make it a memorable round.
Golf has been a part of Ben’s life since he was 28. He said his first round was with some co-workers who played Jaycees and asked him to join. He bought Wilson clubs and a bag for $50 from the manager of a shoeshine shop and took to the course.
He was a student of the game. Bender, who was a moldmaker for Hazel Atlas and sold insurance for MetLife, played six days per week when he lived in Florida and became a 3-handicap golfer.
When he retired, Bender moved back to Zanesville and regularly played Green Valley.
“The second hole I ever played, I hit my drive towards a fence,” Bender recalled. “When I got there, I was ready to put my ball on a tee when another guy said you can’t do that. You can only tee it up when you drive it. I hit that ball and hopped out of the grass like a rabbit.
“That’s how I learned to play the game,” he added. “We talked to each other and worked together. I enjoyed the game until the end.”
Golf gave him plenty, and it was fitting to cap his career with the rarest feat.
“I was lucky to play golf this long, but I never expected (a hole-in-one),” he said. “It was the last time I was able to play, and I think God had a hand in this. I loved the game and hate to give it up, but I can’t play forever.”