Hunter sets Builder golf record

Published 5:06 pm Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ben Hunter set an Apprentice School golf record with a 5-under-par 67 as part of a dual match win over Louisburg College at Sleepy Hole Golf Course on Wednesday.

The record was not on Hunter’s mind after his final shot, though.

Ben Hunter set an Apprentice School golf record with a 5-under-par 67 as part of a dual match win over Louisburg College at Sleepy Hole Golf Course on Wednesday. (Chris Oxley Photo)

“I wasn’t under the impression that I had the record,” Hunter said, “until my coach said something to me afterward.”

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Last season, Hunter broke the school record for lowest average score for the year. Still seeing room for improvement, he purposed to dedicate himself more fully to the sport this year. This new record, which came by way of eight birdies, showed the fruit of his labor.

“To see the results so often, that was very special,” Hunter said. “It felt good.”

The closest anyone had come to beating the school record was in 2007 when Brandon Rudisill tied it. The original mark was set in 2005 by one of the school’s coaches.

“The record was actually 68 for the school and B.J., my son, actually held the record,” Apprentice School coach Joey Maben said.

B.J. currently serves as assistant coach and was there on Wednesday, assisting Hunter.

“And what was neat on the 18th hole, Ben and him conversed over a shot,” Maben said. “If he chipped it in, he would beat B.J.’s record.”

Joey Maben was also thinking about how close the match was, and he instructed Hunter to hit no more than two shots.

“He looked at it and decided what was the best place to hit the ball,” Maben said, “and then gets over top of it and actually chips it in from about 30 feet to make par, which broke the record. So, that was pretty special, especially having B.J. and myself right there.”

“I’d never seen him hit the ball that well before,” B.J. Maben said. “He was putting better than I’ve ever seen him putt. I mean, it was incredible.”

Hunter saw flaws in his game, however, and enjoyed what his last stroke did to make them irrelevant to the final result.

“But as far as the chip in went,” he said, “that defined my whole round because I gave a few shots away on the back nine and made the chip in on 18 to save par.”

The Builders defeated Louisburg by the score of 300 to 311 despite the wet conditions, which made Hunter’s and his teammates’ accomplishments all the more impressive.

“Ben is always in control of his game, and he hit several shots close to the hole,” Maben said. “He hit a lot of greens in regulation and on a very, very wet golf course, which is really tough to do.”

Maben was also proud of his son for being so supportive of Ben even as his own records fall. The lowest average season score also used to belong to B.J.

“It’s really neat how hard B.J. and Ben work together,” Maben said. “B.J. is really a good mentor to Ben ‘cause he’s been through it for the four years and did so well for the Apprentice School.”

“We have a very good friendship,” Hunter said of B.J. “More of a brother-brother friendship, if you ask me … He strongly encourages me to push to break all the records that I can.”

“At first, it was like, ‘Man, here it goes,’” B.J. said, referring to the record. “But what’s so neat about the whole experience is that not only did I break the records when I went to school, but I got to coach a player that’s beaten the records. So, not too many people can say that.”

Hunter, a junior and the captain of the team, aims to help the Builders accomplish something else that few people can lay claim to — winning a national title. He is working toward this by practicing early and often.

“I’m trying to get the other guys to do the same thing,” he said. “My ultimate goal is just to bring us the national championship and I know it starts with me being the captain. If I lead by example, then the other teammates, they have no choice but to follow.”

With another part of the Apprentice School record book rewritten, Maben referenced his overall impression of Hunter.

“I can’t say it enough — Ben Hunter is just a tremendous young man,” Maben said. “He does well on the job which is very important at the shipyard, he does excellent in the classroom, and we all know he’s a tremendous golfer.”

The Shenandoah Invitational at Winchester Country Club in Winchester on Sept. 9-10 is the next stop for Hunter and the Builders.