HUDSON, Wis. -- Every golfer who’s ever had a hole-in-one has a story to tell about it.
Hudson junior Bennett Swavely will tell the story of how he hit a 50-degree wedge 162-yards downwind to the front-cut cup on the 13th hole at Troy Burne for his first career ace.
Oh yeah, and it happened in the middle of a pandemic.
Swavely achieved every golfer’s dream on May 3, just over a week after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers eased statewide COVID-19 restrictions that allowed golf courses to reopen.
“It was downwind and the pin was in the front, so I just hit a 50-degree,” he said. “It hit right in front and kind of took a big bounce. I couldn’t really tell if it went in or not, but when I got up there it was in the hole so it was really cool. Especially right in the middle of this pandemic.”
Swavely has found refuge at Troy Burne since his junior golf season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A two-time first team All-Big Rivers Conference player and honorable mention all-state selection a year ago, Swavely had his sights set on helping the Raiders compete for a conference title and a return trip to state this spring. Hudson finished seventh at last year’s WIAA State Golf Tournament – the second best finish in school history.
He was blunt when asked how he felt about he and his teammates not being able to play for that return trip to state.
“It sucks,” he stated. “Our team this year was, I’d say, is the best Hudson’s ever had, easily. The first week or two that would have been our season, we had our top four guys go out and play and I don’t think anybody shot over a 76. So we were going to be pretty good.”
But Swavely has found solace in the fact that at least Wisconsin golf courses are open. And he’s taken advantage of that by spending plenty of time out at Troy Burne.
“Pretty much all day every day,” he said. “There’s not much else to do.”
Working on his game
Swavely works at Troy Burne three days a week so is able to play after his shift. He also spends off-days at the course working on his game, something he realizes he’s lucky to do.
“I have a lot of friends on the basketball team and no gyms are open for them and I feel bad for them because it’s hard for them to shoot and practice like they usually would,” he noted. “But I’m really fortunate to be out here, especially at Troy Burne with such great facilities. I’m very appreciative of that.”
Swavely said he misses his teammates and the normal routines associated with school, but he’s making the best of it.
“It is what it is,” he said. “It’s the same for everybody. It’s hard. You’re not in a classroom so you can’t really get that one-on-one teaching that you might need. So our teachers are really understanding with that and they’ve been good with giving us a workload that’s not going to overpile us but not have us do anything at all. We’re finishing up on Friday so it will be nice to get done early. I’ll be able to spend more time out here.”
And he plans on putting that time to good use. While the high school season has been canceled, Swavely has already competed in a couple of Chippewa Valley Golf Association events and plans on playing in as many tournaments as he can this summer before choosing a college. He’s already received an offer from the University of Wisconsin and has heard from a number of other schools including Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, UW-Green Bay, University of Denver, University of St. Thomas.
“Right now I’m talking to as many as I can because you never know what’s going on,” he said. “So I’m keeping my options open. If I narrow it down and something happens it’s going to be hard to go back.”
Swavely caught the attention of college coaches by winning the Wisconsin State Golf Association Junior Boys Championship last summer, adding his name to a trophy that includes the likes of current PGA pros Steve Stricker and Mark Wilson. He’s disappointed he won’t be able to defend his title after this year’s event was canceled due to the coronavirus, along with qualifying events for the 2020 U.S. Amatuer Championship and U.S. Open. But he’s looking forward to competing in as many tournaments this summer as possible, beginning with the North/South Junior Amatuer Championship at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina July 6-8.
“I’m really excited to get back into some tournaments,” he said. “Just to get out and compete again.”
Which is why he’s taking advantage of the opportunity to play every day at Troy Burne. He said having people like head pro Brent Snyder and assistants Peter Maki and Alex Klein to compete against and learn from has helped him become a better golfer.
“The whole staff is super cool and they’re really good golfers as well,” he said “They help me out a lot. And they all want to see me and everybody else out here get better and put Hudson on the map for golf.”
It also probably explains why Swavely was thinking what he was after notching his first career hole-in-one earlier this month.
“I was just like, OK let’s see how low I can go, and just waiting for the next one to drop,” he said.
At the rate he’s going, that shouldn’t take long.