Living in Anchorage, Alaska, Patrick Bennett, a finance officer in the U.S. Air Force, had never heard of the World Amateur Handicap Championship, much less thought of playing in it, but his wife, Lindsay, had other ideas.
For several years, the World Am had players from every state but Alaska participating in the event, and tournament organizers made a push for players in America’s 49th state for the 2020 event.
Lindsay heard about the tournament through a local promotion and signed Patrick up to win a trip without his knowledge, even going so far as to clear the idea with his boss in the event he won (the boss’ reaction, paraphrased, “Patrick is clear to go but good luck with actually winning!).
Sometime later, Lindsay handed Patrick her phone and told him she had a video she wanted him to watch.
“Scott Tomasello (World Am tournament director) goes on there and is like Patrick, ‘I know you are probably wondering what’s going on, but I want you to know you won this grand prize golf tournament vacation,’” Bennett said. “I was in shock.”
A native of Colorado who had rarely been East of the Mississippi, Bennett had to process what happened – he won a trip across the country to visit Myrtle Beach and play in a tournament that moments ago he had never heard of – but he was certainly excited.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic changed his plans to participate in 2020. Without the experience of the World’s Largest 19th Hole, Bennett opted to push his trip back a year.
As is often the case in life, other factors changed for Bennett over the last 12 months as he was accepted into the Masters program at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, necessitating a move (have no fear, we had other Alaskans pick up the slack this year to make sure their state is proudly represented!). His Masters program begins this week, meaning Patterson has to leave the tournament early, but after having played the game from Alaska to Japan, his first trip to the Golf Capital of the World hasn’t disappointed.
“It has definitely lived up to (expectations),” Bennett said of his inaugural trip to the World Am. “The courses are beautiful; the beach is right next to you and everyone has been very friendly. I’ve had a great experience.”
Here is to hoping Bennett, who wants to move back to Alaska someday, is able to return to the World Am.