Ben Lanting, Associate Professional from Bear Creek Golf Club in Lakewood, Colo., has earned the 2018 Colorado PGA Associate Professional of the Year Award. “It is a tremendous honor for me to have won this award. There are so many great Associate players in this section and to achieve this goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year is a blessing from God,” Lanting said.
The highlight of the year for Lanting came at Saddle Rock Golf Course in Aurora, Colo., when he claimed the championship in the National Car Rental Colorado Assistant Professional Championship. In that event, Lanting began the final round three-strokes behind four-time champion Caine Fitzgerald of Meadow Hills Golf Course. He got off to a hot start by birdieing the first hole and made the turn tied for the lead.
He ran into some speed bumps on the closing nine as he bogeyed the downhill par-3 16th hole. He righted the ship with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 17th. Lanting had to battle not only Fitzgerald but also his nerves on the final hole.
“Eighteen is a tough hole and it was tough to feel my hands there to be honest with you,” he noted following the awards ceremony. “I hit my tee shot right down the middle and was between clubs but decided to take the smaller club in the moment and hit it hard. I hit it to about a foot and was able to have a stress free putt to end the day.”
It was at the Assistant Professional Championship that Lanting recalls his best memory of the year. “I was a few shots back of the lead and was talking to Kirk Rider (the Head Professional at Bear Creek Golf Club) on the phone about what I needed to do to finish top-four to get to the (National Car Rental Assistant Professional Championship) in Florida. Kirk paused and said, “Top 4?! Go win this thing!” That shifted my focus to be a little more aggressive and it was a huge blessing to be able to win that tournament the next day.”
In additional to the Assistant Professional Championship, Lanting tied for victories at the Greeley Country Club and Fort Collins Country Club Pro Ams. Throughout the season, Lanting relied on a steady game tee-to-green.
“I think the strongest part of my game this year was hitting greens in regulation,” he noted. “I don’t typically make a ton of birdies, but I don’t make a ton of bogeys either and that consistency from tee to green was a key for me.”
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pursuit of getting better this year,” noted Lanting upon learning he had won the award. “Carving out time to play and practice before and after work has been both challenging and fun because I love this game so much.”