Nova Southeastern men’s golf

England’s Benjamin Taylor an ace for Nova Southeastern men’s golf

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Nothing seems to faze Benjamin Taylor — not even the time two years ago when the Nova Southeastern University golfer hit an 8-iron shot into someone’s beer glass.

Taylor quickly recovered.

“Ben hit another ball, this time with a 9-iron, and the ball finished 20 feet from the flag,” said Philip Taylor, who was playing a Father & Son Championship with his boy. “Ben then holed the putt for a 5, and we won the event.”

Taylor, a junior and Nova’s top golfer, will be playing for bigger stakes starting Monday, when the Sharks begin defending their Division II national championship at Hershey, Pa.

A native of Leatherhead, England — which is essentially South London — Taylor grew up an Arsenal soccer fan and played rugby, cricket, hockey and golf as a youth.

When he was 14, he tore ligaments in his left knee while playing rugby and decided it was time to stick to just one sport — golf. After all, his father played professionally and for the past 25 years has owned Pachesham Park Golf Center.

“He bought a horse field and turned it into a municipal golf course,” Taylor said proudly. “He designed it himself.”

That’s where Taylor learned to play, but a golf stroke was not the only lesson his father passed along.

“My dad always said that once you hit a golf shot, it’s in past,” Taylor said. “Whether it’s good or bad, you can’t change it. Move on.”

That advice helped Taylor earn first-team All-American status last season, his first in college golf. He had an incredible postseason, shooting even-par to win the Sunshine State Conference tournament, coming in second at regionals with a 5-under-par total and third at nationals despite shooting 8-under.

This year, he finished sixth in the conference tournament, earning SSC Golfer of the Year honors. Taylor then won the regional tournament, edging teammate Ricardo Celia by one stroke.

“Judging by his stroke average, he is one of the top five golfers in the nation in all divisions,” first-year Nova coach Ryan Jamison said. “He’s a force.”

Taylor said the secret is staying consistent with his emotions and his play.

“I usually turn in ‘clean’ scorecards,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of high numbers or ridiculously low ones, either. I just keep things simple.”

That approach, though, has sometimes puzzled observers.

“Everyone says I look disappointed on the course,” he said. “But I’m as happy as ever. That’s just the way I look.”

There are certainly no complaints from anyone at Nova.

Taylor seems destined for a pro career and would also like to run his dad’s course when his father retires, thus keeping Pachesham in the family.

South Florida has been a relatively easy adjustment for Taylor, who only visited one college — Nova — and fell in love right away.

“I was just fascinated with South Florida and how big the buildings were, how big the roads were and even how big the people were,” he said. “And the opportunity was big, too.”

Taylor has taken full advantage, and there doesn’t appear to be anything — not even a beer-drenched ball — that can stop him.

Read more Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

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