When Ben Hamilton first showed up to golf practice this spring, it was his first time at Jonathan’s Landing.
With The Rookery North golf course closing down, the Milford High golf team had to move its home course to the Magnolia area course.
It hasn’t stopped the senior from putting up the top team score in almost all of the Bucs’ matches so far this season. As the lone senior on the squad, it also hasn’t stopped him from becoming a leader for some of the younger kids on the team.
“My first day at practice (this spring) was my first time ever being there,” he said. “It’s been kind of a learning curve getting used to all the holes … It’s really just been about getting to know the new atmosphere because the course has a lot of water while at The Rookery it was mainly a lot of trees and there wasn’t a whole lot of water.”
After having all of last season wiped out due to the COVID-19 outbreak, quickly ending what he believes could have been a very successful season given the seniors they had on that roster, Hamilton entered this year with a new outlook and made sure to relay that message to his younger teammates.
“I just told them to have fun while they’re doing it,” he said. “I said to play and have fun while they can, because high school — and high school golf — just goes by so fast … it (the season cancellation) changed my mindset on everything, really.”
So far this year Hamilton has liked what he’s seen from his team, led by head coach Keith Kendzierski, as the Bucs sit at 4-3 heading into a home match against Henlopen Conference Northern Division foe Smyrna High Monday, April 26 on their home course.
“Honestly, going into this year it was a little bit questionable since we lost three seniors (to graduation last year) and we had some new people coming in,” Hamilton explained. “Right now, we’re doing amazing though. Every once in a while we’ll have a bad match but we just put it behind us and focus on our next match.”
While he’s been playing golf since a young age, and he’s been on the high school team since his ninth grade year, he hasn’t always been so competitive on a golf course.
“I picked up my first club when I was like eight or nine,” he said. “I was just playing it for the fun of it and to get outside, but now that I’ve been getting older I’ve gotten more and more competitive.”
Hamilton shot a season-high 44 in Milford’s 213-217 win over Dover High on April 15 at Maple Dale Country Club, but golf isn’t even Hamilton’s top sport of choice.
In the fall, the senior helped lead the Milford boys’ soccer team to one of the program’s best seasons ever, finishing 11-0-1 and winning the Henlopen Conference title game with a 3-1 win over Indian River High Dec. 1.
The team tied Caesar Rodney High, 1-1, in the regular season and eventually fell 2-1 to Middletown High in the first round of the DIAA Div. I state tournament. But that didn’t take away from the success the team enjoyed throughout the season.
“I don’t think we could’ve put up a better performance than we did all season,” he said of the soccer campaign. “We had a couple games that were a little questionable, but overall we had a great season and I can’t even put it into words what it meant to win the conference.”
He’s played soccer since he was about five or six years old. Both sports — but especially soccer — have helped him get through some tough times which is what has kept him active and playing all these years.
“When you’re on the field, all your problems just go away,” he explained. “It’s just you, the soccer ball and your teammates. It’s helped me get through some tough times … you just go to the soccer field and kick the soccer ball around and your problems go away for a little bit … It’s very similar with golf. You don’t have to worry about too much out there, with golf it’s just hit the ball straight and try not to do much else.”
Once he graduates this spring, Hamilton plans to attend Universal Technical Institute in North Carolina and would like to break into the world of NASCAR one day.