- Finding My Faith
- Heather Crane: 18 Things About Ben
- Putting Green in my Bedroom
- First Memories of Playing Golf
- Role Models
- Key Relationships Growing Up
- Did I Play Other Sports?
- Why I Chose Golf
Finding My Faith
I grew up in a loving, Christian home and because of my love of the game of golf, it wasn't long before golf became my god. Like most kids who grow up in a Christian home, I began to doubt my faith and experience other things when I got out on my own in college. I knew that God should be more of a factor in my life, but I was busy trying to be a great college golfer and pursuing other things. I soon realized that I could either try to do life on my own strength and abilities or I could live life with God's help and grace. I had seen what going at it alone had done for me, a life full of selfishness, pride, and a feeling of never being satisfied. I was always chasing the next thing that was supposed to make me happy.
I met my future wife, Heather, and as our relationship grew, we decided to start pursuing our faith together. Part of God's perfect plan for my life was placing an amazing man, Pastor Ron Mehl, in my life, who started to mentor and disciple me. During the final years of his life as he was losing his battle with leukemia, he took the time to teach me many important truths that have shaped the man I am today. Pastor Ron showed me the love of Christ by the way he just deeply cared for and listened to me. He didn't see the flaws in me, he saw the man that I could be, a follower of Jesus that could live a fruitful life that mattered. That's how God sees us through the person of Christ, he sees us for all of our potential.
My golf career took off and I made the PGA tour after playing the mini-tours and Nationwide for only 2-1/2 years. As a rookie on the PGA Tour, I instantly felt accepted by the PGA Tour bible study, led by Larry Moody, and the other believers on tour. However, things quickly started to unravel for me as the weaknesses in my game became exposed amidst the pressure and competition on the tour. I missed 5 cuts in a row and finally the last tournament before my wedding to Heather, I focused on a book that Pastor Ron wrote called A Prayer that Moves Heaven, about praising God in the tough times, when your circumstances aren't what you wished them to be and remaining thankful as you stand on God's promises alone. I finished 2nd that last weekend before our wedding and I was very grateful that God chose to bless and encourage me in such a special way, but it also made me realize that God has called me to the PGA Tour, to teach me and train me and help me to use my gifts to glorify him. God is in it each day, over each shot, He is the one who makes up the difference in my game to allow me to succeed.
I am currently in my 9th year on tour. God has taught me so much, brought me through all the ups and downs. There have been seasons of great success on the course and great struggle, including debilitating back pain where I thought my career was over. Through it all, God always has something to teach me. Looking back, his plan has been perfect. God has blessed me with an incredibly supportive wife and amazing children. We are honored and grateful to have a life filled with so much purpose as we desire to use this platform to be an encouragement to others. So many great friends and leaders in the faith have poured into me, encouraging me along the way. I have learned to live in the present, embrace the day and what lies ahead, and to rely on Jesus and his strength because that is when I am my best. I focus on scripture when I play and the devotional that we created has given me such life on the course. James 4:10 says, "when you bow down and admit your dependence on me, I will lift you up and give you honor." That has really rung true in my life -- as my dependence grows on Christ, my strength increases.
Heather Crane: 18 Things About Ben
Who knows the PGA TOUR pros better than their significant others? No, we're not talking about caddies but the PGA TOUR wives, who play such an important support role as their husbands grind out a living each week. In PGATOUR.COM's newest monthly feature, we'll ask a TOUR wife to give us 18 things you should know about her husband.
For our initial feature, Heather Crane has provided her list about Ben Crane who comes off his most successful season, having won his third TOUR event at the Farmers Insurance Open and finishing 27th in FedExCup points.
Ben and I are college sweethearts. We met at the University of Oregon when I was a freshman. My friend had a crush on his roommate (now his caddie, Joel) and we stopped by one night to say hi. We hung out soon after and never stopped! We married five years later, his rookie year on the PGA TOUR and then had our first child five years after that. We now have two little ones, 4 and 2, and love spending our days watching them grow up.
We always enjoy joking around about our college days when Ben would have to ask my mom to use my credit card to take me out on a nice date and all the things he did to try to make it to the next month's rent check from his parents -- including going to the ATM and depositing empty envelopes to get cash out that he didn't have! Ben was a very sweet boyfriend while we dated, always surprising me in the computer lab with a drink and a pack of Starburst. He always brought flowers to me at my sorority house and showed up to every game I cheered at. We love how our life and relationship has evolved and are so grateful for the many blessings that we have shared in our life together!
1. You will never receive a card with just Ben's signature. He always writes thoughtful notes and shares his heart.
2. It was hard for Ben to focus on school when all he wanted to do was be on the golf course. He definitely missed the days they covered how to use a "comma" and I spent many hours "proofreading" his papers in college that turned out to be complete re-dos the morning before they were due.
3. Ben loves to dance. We have a "dance party" just about every morning in our golf studio with the kids when we are home.
4. Ben loves trying to be artistic with his hands. One time when he was out with a back injury, he made a birdhouse that matched our home.
5. When we were dating in college and talked about getting married, Ben professed that he wanted to be the cook in our house. Although his signature spaghetti and chili-Frito "gut pack" hasn’t made it to our kitchen table, he does make some killer French toast.
6. Ben refereed boy’s basketball games in high school and always hoped to be a coach some day. He loves kids. He recently put on an impromptu kids clinic at our golf club to be able to teach and reach out to the kids in our neighborhood.
7. Ben is passionate about his relationships. He loves encouraging and going deep with people. It is hard to keep anything surface-level around him.
8. Ben loves to fish. One offseason, he couldn't find anyone to join him, so he flew to Costa Rica for an adventure by himself.
9. Ben is not a details guy. He loses things all the time, has very little sense of direction, and is a bit unorganized -- that is why God gave him me!
10. One of Ben's favorite people is his mom. One of his most special memories is waking up and finding his mom praying near the space heater in their house before she went to work.
11. One of Ben's other favorite people was his grandfather, who taught him how to play golf as well as many other life truths. One of Ben's favorite quotes from his grandfather is this: "A bad putt is always better than a bad chip, so putt whenever you can."
12. Ben LOVES to surprise people in a good way. For our fifth anniversary, Ben rented out a movie theater in Portland and showed me a video he had a friend put together of our life together with photos and music -- so amazing!
13. Ben enjoys following sports -- his favorites are Oregon Ducks football; the Miami Heat because his childhood friend, Erik Spoelstra, is the head coach; and the Yankees for Mark Teixeira, another good friend.
14. Ben LOVES being a daddy. When off the course, he is fully on as a dad. He loves adventures, bike rides, games and anything that involves having fun with the kids.
15. When Drew Bledsoe finished his career playing for the Cowboys, he lived a few doors down and introduced Ben to red wine, which is now an interest as well. Drew started his own vineyard and wine, Doubleback, which is a favorite. We just went to Napa with some couples from the TOUR and had a wonderful getaway.
16. Ben has hosted a charity pro-am for the past five years that has raised over $1.5 million. It has become a very special event for us and he never turns down a request I make of him for the occasion -- whether it be chasing down other players to autograph a pin flag or letting me go to Cambodia to see where our money is helping some kids.
17. I've been praising him a lot, but it's not all good -- Ben farts all the time!!!
18. Ben is addicted to the kid's game app called AniMatch, a memory game. He has an ongoing competition with Brett Quigley and there are times I have to tell him to put it down!
Putting Green in my Bedroom
Looking back, I think I was a pretty unusual kid in the sense that I was very motivated. I had a competitive spirit and a strong, focused work ethic at a young age. I look back and see some of the notes I used to write my dad or mom before they went to work telling them to just hang in there and keep pushing and that we only grow in the tough times. And I think I just always knew that growth wasn’t going to come easy and if we weren’t failing, we weren’t pushing ourselves hard enough.
I remember having a remodel going on in our house and we wanted to save money wherever we could so we put some Astroturf down in my room and I could putt on it. My Uncle Dick sunk a cup in the floor. I could putt late into the night but because of the metal cup in the corner of my room each time the ball would go in it would make this clunk sound. One of my parents would come in and say “Ben – you need to stop and go to bed.” My room was right next to theirs and so I lined the cup with some of my socks so that the ball wouldn’t rattle around.
The drill I did at home every night was I had to make 100 three footers in a row. If I got to 97 or 99 and then missed one and I didn’t get to 100 then I started over. What I learned was when you start scoring in the 80’s and the 70’s, you really got to start focusing so the pressure starts increasing a little more. It was kind of a way I could practice and put a little pressure on myself because it was really critical that I be able to maintain my focus in those last putts of the day.
First Memories of Playing Golf
My grandpa was the coolest guy and I absolutely loved being around him. I loved his sense of humor and the way he did things, his work ethic and the way he loved and cared for my grandma so I just always wanted to be around him. I wanted to do projects with him and just learn from how he thought about situations. He was a great businessman. And in order to be around him it was pretty much either going to be working out in the yard or playing golf. So that was a ‘no-brainer’ and I started playing golf with my grandpa and his buddies and at times my dad would join us.
On a few occasions my dad and I would get up before church on Sunday morning, tee off at sunrise and I remember we’d hop the fence when no one was there, it would still be dark. So I’d lie down behind the first tee, my dad would tee off and I’d watch to see if I could see the direction of the ball. Then I’d say “Okay it looked like it went down the middle” or “it started off to the right” so we’d have an idea where to go look for it. Then my dad would lie down behind me and do the same thing. We wanted to be on the first green by the time the sun was up so we could get in those 9 holes before church started. Those are some of my first memories and I just kind of grew a love for the game from there.
Who were my heroes growing up? My heroes were definitely my grandpa, my mom and my dad. But I really didn’t have a lot of athletic role models, just the guys who I watched on TV. You know the guys winning the Masters when I was a kid from Freddy Couples to Nick Faldo and watching those guys Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman win the British and those are the guys that I probably looked up to the most on the golf course. I was huge into basketball and I loved the Portland Trailblazers and Buck Williams and Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler and those guys, Jerome Kersey that played for the Blazers. We had arguably the best team but we kept running into this guy named Michael Jordan. We kept losing to him in the NBA finals and the bad boys, Isaiah Thomas and the gang. So it was tough being a Blazer fan and the heartache every year.
Key Relationships Growing Up
Who were the key adults in my life when I was growing up? You know, there weren’t a ton of kids my age who were trying to practice and get a lot better at golf and try to be the best golfer they could be, so I ended up having key friendships with some older guys that loved the game of golf. One key relationship like this was the guy that lived across the street from me, Jim Bjork. He just absolutely loved golf. So it seemed like there were many nights when we’d be working on a little swing thing here or there and we’d make a late run to the driving range to hit thirty balls before it closed at 9:30 and they turned the lights off on us.
When I was a teenager my grandfather insisted that we join the golf club about a mile from our home. I played with he and his golfing buddies at times. I took lessons and played a lot of golf with many members – most who were significantly older then me. I was around the game a lot my sophomore, junior and senior years in high school and just fell in love with the smell of the fresh cut grass, shining up my shoes and putting on nice slacks and a sweater and thinking I was a tour pro out there playing the early mornings. So that was kind of my life, it just revolved around having relationships that drew me to the golf course.
Did I Play Other Sports?
I played everything growing up. I was all about sports and my parents told me that I started dribbling a basketball when I turned two and they thought “wow, he has good eye-hand coordination,” or something. I remember shooting baskets late into the night when I was a kid and running, riding bikes, skateboarding, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis. I was always playing games. My dad and I played ping pong in the garage and had great grudge matches. So I played absolutely everything and it turns out now the guys at Titles Performance Institute are taking all juniors and they’re just trying to turn them into great athletes because they’re finding that the great athletes are the ones who really have a chance. There are very few golfers on tour, actually I only know of one, who only played golf growing up; the rest of them are actually very good athletes and played a lot of different sports. So if you’re raising a kid, you want them to play absolutely everything and help them become a great athlete first and then let them focus on golf, if they develop that desire.
Why I Chose Golf
I remember thinking to myself, this work thing doesn’t sound like a great deal. My dad goes off to work pretty early and comes home kind of late and works super hard, and the whole sit-at-the-desk thing. I don’t know, it just seemed super challenging to me and I thought, gosh, it would be a lot more fun to play basketball for a living or be a tennis player or soccer player. And then I started thinking through those ideas “you know, I’m not the best basketball player on my team. I’m probably the third best soccer player on my team. Gosh, I’m maybe the tenth best tennis player I know.” And then I thought “you know what, I’m the best golfer of my friends and maybe that one will work.” So that’s when I began to focus by thinking “all right, I’m going to quit these other sports and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”
I remember hearing my teaching pro say to me “if I’d just worked a little harder I think I could have made it,” and that was a defining moment for me! When he said that it was like I made a deal with myself that I would never say that. I would just give it everything I’ve got. I figured if I poured everything I had into it and I worked harder than anyone else, then I would succeed but even if I didn’t I would just learn a lot along the way. And that’s something that’s foundational to the way I approach my golf game – I know I have a great work ethic.