Walk-Off Ace: 93-Year-Old Ohio Man Ends Golf Career After Making First Hole-In-One


If you’ve been playing golf for a long time and still haven’t made a hole-in-one, don’t lose hope. Rather, take heart from Ben Bender of Zanesville, Ohio.

Bender, 93, struck a 5-wood on the 152-yard par-3 3rd hole at Green Valley Golf Club. The golf ball found the green and rolled into the cup. Witness Hearl Cubbison made it official. It was the first ace for Bender, who had been playing golf for 66 years.

“I’d come close to some hole-in-ones, but this one was level on the green before it curved towards the hole and went in,” Bender told the Zanesville Times Recorder. “I was in awe watching it. I played a few more holes, but my hips were hurting and I had to stop. It seemed the Lord knew this was my last round so he gave me a hole-in-one.”

Bender’s round hadn’t started well, according to Green Valley head pro Steve Galloway. He took an 8 on the par-4 1st hole and carded a 7 on the par-4 2nd hole. But, as the newspaper wrote, “[I]t just takes one shot to make it a memorable round.”

That one shot also made it a memorable finish to a golf career that began when Bender was 28. He played his first round after an invitation from co-workers. The game got in his blood. A manager of a shoeshine shop sold him a set of Wilson clubs and golf bag for $50. He never looked back.

Playing six days a week while living in Florida, Bender got down to a 3 handicap. He moved back to Zanesville after he retired and became a regular at Green Valley.

“I was lucky to play golf this long,” Bender added, “but I never expected [a hole-in-one]. It was the last time I was able to play, and I think God had a hand in this. I loved the game and hate to give it up, but I can’t play forever.”

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Neil Sagebiel

Neil Sagebiel is a golf writer and author of two golf books published by St. Martin's Press, THE LONGEST SHOT and DRAW IN THE DUNES. He lives in Floyd, Virginia.

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