When he first picked up a golf club at the tender age of nine, Ben Stow could never have envisioned the success he would enjoy over the next fifteen years. Now a professional Challenge Tour golfer, the 24-year-old has achieved so much already.
From university in England to a scholarship in America, here he describes his career so far and what it takes to be successful.
Where it all began
Stow, who is originally from East Knoyle in Wiltshire, started playing golf as a 9-year-old but only began playing competitively when he was fifteen. Once he had put all other distractions to one side and fully focused on the sport, Stow found that he made significant strides and quickly moved forward.
He said: “I realised I was good at golf when I stopped playing every other sport and concentrated on that alone. I improved quickly.”
While studying at Gillingham School in Dorset, Stow played golf for England and competed in a number of home internationals. Dave Morris, a teacher at the school Stow attended, taught the 24-year-old for two years and had this to say about his former pupil: “I was always impressed with his focus and drive to achieve his goals. I never actually witnessed Ben play golf, but I knew by the characteristics of his personality and athletic ability that he had something special.”
From England to America
Although his talent was obvious to some, it wasn’t until he went to university that his ability was truly recognised. During his two years at Plymouth University, Stow met his coach and his performance in the sport improved dramatically. Shortly afterwards, an offer was made that he simply could not turn down – the chance to play golf in America. Asked how he was given the opportunity of a scholarship in the USA, Stow said: “Luckily I was a great player and my England manager had a lot of contacts in America. He got in touch with loads of different colleges and I did the rest.”
Stow transferred to the University of Kentucky for his final two years. The experience of studying and playing golf in America is something that he will never forget.
“It was amazing, I loved every minute of college and I am so glad I got the chance to go. It definitely changed my life. I have become a more versatile golfer, I have met some great friends and I have made some good contacts.”
Biggest achievements to date
Stow admits his biggest achievement in his career so far is winning the English Amateur Stroke Play Championship in 2014. However, competing in the 2013 British Open also ranks highly. Beating the likes of former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie to a qualifying place, the then amateur golfer found himself competing at Muirfield against the world’s best on arguably golf’s biggest stage.
“The Open was incredible. It was inspiring and nerve-wracking but I definitely learned a lot.”
People to thank
The 24-year-old graduated from Kentucky University during the Christmas of 2014, and since he has turned professional he has received many sponsorship deals. Stow hasn’t made it on his own though, and when asked if there is anyone in particular to thank for his success, he said: “My dad. He was my hero as a kid and still is. He would do anything for me. Also, I couldn’t have made it without my coach and my assistant coach at college.”
Other members of Stow’s family have also been supportive. Beth Cox, Stow’s sister, feels that his success is well-deserved. She said: “He works hard and has a strong mental attitude. I am so proud of him. He deserves it.”
Like any sport, to reach the very top there are sacrifices that have to be made. Although it is not ideal, in Stow’s mind it is unavoidable. He said: “I’ve had less social life and I haven’t been able to see my family or my girlfriend as much as I would like. There is no decision to be made in my eyes though, it is just something that has to happen.”
It takes extreme dedication and determination to make it as a professional, and the 24-year-old has some words of advice to any young golfers hoping to go far in the game: “Make sure you get good coaching and work extremely hard. Believe in yourself because sometimes others won’t.”
Stow is a perfect example to any young sportsman that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything you want to. He hopes to one day play in a Ryder Cup and when asked what his targets and goals for the future are, he replied: “To be the best. Why would you shoot for anything else?”
A sport he has loved since he was a little boy, golf will have a place in Ben Stow’s heart forever.