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Beben prepared to keep swinging at USC-Sumter

Posted: December 28, 2017 9:49 a.m.
Updated: December 29, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

CAMDEN SENIOR HANNAH BEBEN signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and golf-playing endeavors at USC-Sumter while flanked by her mother, Melissa Page, and her stepfather, Ashley Page. Standing, from left, are Camden High athletic director Brian Rimpf and Lady Bulldogs’ head golf coach Matt McCarley.

When asked how long Hannah Beben had been playing golf as a member of the Camden High girls’ team, Lady Bulldog head coach Matt McCarley paused and tried his best to give a definitive answer.

“Hannah came out … I think, this was her third year on the team but I will have to try and confirm that,” said the former Camden High and University of South Carolina golf standout.

A few minutes later, that same question was posed to Beben who, minutes earlier, had signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and golf-playing pursuits at USC-Sumter. Beben smiled and said she had been playing golf since her father taught her the game when she was 11 years old. However, Beben played just two seasons of golf at Camden High in the fall but with good reason.

“I didn’t really know that we had a team (at CHS),” she said with a laugh.

In her final season as a member of the Lady Bulldogs, Beben’s role was not limited to just being one of the team’s top players. As the squad’s lone senior, she was looked up to by her younger teammates both on and off the course. The final result was Camden’s finishing eighth in the AAA state championship tournament which marked the best campaign in the program’s five-year history, all coming under McCarley’s watch.

McCarley, who doubles as the head professional at the Camden Country Club, said Beben played a major role in his team’s success this past fall.

“Hannah is probably the best teammate and has the best attitude of any player I’ve ever coached in my five years with the girls’ team. She is just a great person to be around,” he said.

“She was very important to our success in that she was a senior and our next oldest player after Hannah was a ninth grader. We had a big gap in there and we really needed Hannah’s leadership and direction for all the young girls we had on our team.”

The leadership mantle was something which Beben took seriously. What she did not do, though, was change the way she went about her business on the course or, off it. “I just kept being me and hoped they looked up to me,” she said of her role as being the team’s leader.

The end result of Beben’s body of work in the classroom and on the links led to her recruitment by and, eventual signing with USC-Sumter. The Fire Ants are coached by Hope Giordano, who completed her first fall campaign at the school which is preparing for the spring season.

Beben said the two-year school is the perfect fit as she seeks to build on her foundation and, hopefully, sign with a four-year school after two years in Sumter.

“I think it was a great chance for me to start at a two-year school,” she said. “I know the coach and I know Beech Creek (USC-Sumter’s home course) pretty well. I really am happy to be going to a USC school. (Giordano) is really nice and really inviting. I think she has a lot to offer.”

Beben has been one of Camden’s best strikers of the ball off the tee in her two seasons. As any person who has played for or, taken lessons from, McCarley will tell you, the Lady Bulldog boss is a stickler for emphasizing the short game. He has been preaching that to all the young players he has instructed including PGA Tour standout Wesley Bryan who finished 41st in the circuit’s FedEx Cup rankings. McCarley worked on all facets of Bryan’s short game during his junior golf career.

“All kids need to work on their short game, including Hannah,” McCarley said. “We have to work on her swing but it’s nothing that she can’t do. Hannah is such a good athlete. She is physically gifted and is stronger than most girls. Once we get in her swing in place … she has a high ceiling.”

“My strength is my driving,” Beben said with a smile. “I definitely have to work on my short game; that’s very, very important. It’s the most important part of the game.”

Working part-time at the Camden Country Club, Beben said she gets advice and tips from McCarley anytime she needs help with her game. Seeing how McCarley goes about his business after having been her coach for the past two years has given Beben a different perspective than some of her teammates get in the fall.

“I learned how a team is supposed to treat each other and how a coach can be,” she said of McCarley. “He is everything I could have asked for in a coach. He taught us how to play and how to act on and off the course. He built a team out of nowhere and we finished eighth in the state this year. He’s a great coach.”

Beben and McCarley will use the holiday break to start getting the USC-Sumter signee on a program designed to help her be at her peak when she arrives on campus to begin practice in August. McCarley will break down and build up all facets of his former player’s game over the coming months.

“The encouraging thing about Hannah,” he said, “is that she hasn’t come close to reaching her potential, yet. We’re getting ready to draw up an off-season program starting this week and really start working on her fundamentals and get her into a tournament program heading into her first season at USC-Sumter.

“Right now, her driving is her strength but she can still hit it farther than she is right now. We’re going to be working on a lot of stuff. I really want to get her into a good tournament program and get her playing in the spring and the summer to get her ready to compete with the girls she will be competing with and against at USC-Sumter.”

Beben said she looks forward to continuing on her path to being a better player. Playing in tournaments and facing better competition will only help take her game to the next level.

“She is new at that,” McCarley said of Beben playing in tournaments. “Getting in competition will help her; it helps everybody. It should motivate her and I think she will be excited to get into golf tournaments and see the girls she will be competing against.”

Beben said tournament play will help prepare her for what she will see and experience in college golf.

“I guess being in bigger tournaments and meeting new people,” she said as to the adjustment she will make between high school and college golf. “Having played two years in high school, I already knew the people who I was playing against this year because it was the same group of people. Now, it will be playing with and meeting new players.”

Put McCarley in the camp as being someone who thinks Hannah Beben’s best days on the golf course are ahead of her. He is excited to see where that journey takes his former player.

“Hannah has a lot of upside. She is a very strong girl,” he said. “I’m looking forward to following her in the future.”

 

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