Inspiring Athletes

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Next year, New Leaf Publishing will be releasing a book I’m currently writing called Life in the Fairway. It’s about golf, integrity and faith. Much of the book will contain insightful anecdotes and solid advice on all three subjects from such noted PGA pros as Stewart Cink, Jonathan Byrd, Aaron Baddeley, DJ Brigman, Kevin Streelman and Webb Simpson.

While working on the book, I recently had the chance to interview Ben Crane who is one of the game’s rising stars–although he’s been on the tour for nearly 10 years now and has three PGA victories to his credit. I wanted to share a brief excerpt of my conversation with Crane including some of his favorite things about the game, why integrity matters and how golf sometimes challenges it:

Chad Bonham: Describe your perfect swing.

Ben Crane: For me a perfect swing is being relaxed not only in my body but also in my mind and the ability to just completely let it go and not to worry about where the ball goes but just to be totally relaxed. That’s the way that I enjoy playing the most. But it’s a very hard place to get.

Bonham: What your favorite golf course?

Ben Crane on the putting range at the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational (Photo by Chad Bonham)

Crane: My favorite course would have to be (the) St. Andrews (Links in Scotland). I don’t like blind tee shots and it has a lot, but coming into that course and playing those greens, how firm they are no matter if its rainy or sunny, it just teaches you everything you want to know about playing golf. What a fantastic experience it was to play in the Open Championship last year. I learned so much. When you make the turn and the winds just whipping, those holes are so challenging and you have to play so many different shots just to fight the ball into the wind. It’s just a fantastic course.

Bonham: Who do you most enjoy being paired with during a tournament?

Crane: One of my favorite pairings is Stewart Cink. I played with him in at the final round of the 2003 Atlanta tournament, which I won. The previous week I had confided in him about fear. I’d really been struggling with fear on the golf course. Stewart just gave me a lot of great advice and really helped stir my affection for the Lord and directed me how to pray and how to turn it over (to Him). As God would have it, the very next week after I talked to him about that at the Players Championship, it was Atlanta and I got paired with him the last day. He just really encouraged me coming down the stretch and I ended up shooting 63 the last day and eagled the last hole to win by four. That was a fond memory.

Bonham: Stewart is one of the guys on tour especially noted for his faith and integrity. When did you make a conscious decision to strive for integrity in your own life?

Ben Crane works on his putting during a practice day at the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational (Photo by Chad Bonham)

Crane: I started doing that in college. I started meeting with a couple of guys and we just decided we were going to get together and pray once a week and let it go from there. Out of that little prayer group of four or five guys, one of those guys came out and caddied for me when I had just turned pro and was playing the mini tours. We were holding each other accountable while we were traveling on the road. That was one of my biggest steps of faith.

Bonham: How does the game of golf challenge your integrity?

Crane: One of the things in golf that’s hard to do is call penalties on yourself when no one else sees. I’ve touched the sand before when no one else saw it. All of the sudden, your heart knows it because it starts beating faster. At Tampa one year, I was getting ready to walk away from my coin and all of the sudden the ball dropped out of my hand, landed on my coin and the coin moved. So I called an official over and he said, “Yeah, that’s a penalty.” That’s hard to do, but you’re always better off in the end because of it.

To check out Ben Crane’s alter ego in the pop band Golf Boys (also featuring Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson), click HERE.

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