Hopefully the third time will be the charm for IJGA alum Ben Dietrich, who is currently competing in his third Players Amateur. The tournament, held July 9-12 at Berkeley Hall Golf Club, attracts many of the best amateur golfers in the country. The winner will receive an exemption into the 2016 RBC Heritage, a PGA TOUR event held in Hilton Head Island.
Born and raised in the small town of Conover, N.C., about an hour north of Charlotte, Dietrich started playing golf at age 10 as a way to spend time with his dad and brother. He became passionate about the game and moved to Bluffton, S.C., to attend the International Junior Golf Academy in ninth grade.
“Training at the IJGA really instilled a sense of time management,” Dietrich noted. “It really solidified what I was doing as far as practice, that’s for sure. But I think it really instilled time management, which I think is huge in college because you don’t have a whole lot of time with balancing golf and academics.”
During his junior year at IJGA, Dietrich committed to play golf for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
Now halfway through his college career at USC, Dietrich, a rising junior, has had his share of ups and downs. “I had an incredible freshman year, I just loved every minute of it,” Dietrich said. “I was able to compete in the post-season: SECs, regionals and nationals, which was an awesome experience.”
All of that golf left little time for schoolwork and it took Dietrich a little while to adjust to his new schedule. “I really struggled my freshman fall semester as far as balancing,” Dietrich admitted. “I played all four tournaments in the fall when I got there [to USC] and it was really hard to study for tests while you’re in a hotel room with the team. Fortunately I was able to get organized my spring semester.”
Dietrich drew on the time management skills he learned at IJGA to turn things around. “I kind of created time slots for everything and I was just on a schedule constantly and had times to study and times to practice,” he explained. “I think that was the biggest thing for me, just to be organized and know when I could do things and when I couldn’t. But it’s definitely a tough thing to do for sure.”
At the end of his freshman year, Dietrich was named to the 2014 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll and the SEC Community Service Team.
After an exemplary freshman year, Dietrich experienced a bit of a sophomore slump in his second year at USC. “I kind of missed the lineup there toward the end of the spring, which was a pretty big challenge,” Dietrich noted. “ It gave me some time to focus on my schoolwork and whatnot. This summer, my game’s starting to elevate a little bit, so I’m excited to see where it is.”
The Players Amateur will be Dietrich’s fifth tournament in a row. “It’s been a busy stretch, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Dietrich said. “I’ve met a lot of incredible people, stayed with a lot of incredible people and seen some pretty cool golf courses so I’m really enjoying my time this summer.”
Dietrich’s parents now live in Bluffton, which makes playing at Berkeley Hall that much more special. “I kind of consider it a home game,” Dietrich said. “Traveling the past few weeks, hotel rooms, host families, it’s all a jumble at times. But to be home with the family, to sleep in your own bed, be able to kind of make your own schedule around your tee times is pretty neat. It’s pretty exciting.”
In addition to being thrilled about playing so close to home, Dietrich is also excited about the tournament itself. “It’s a first-class event from start to finish,” Dietrich said about the Players Amateur. “When you check in, everybody’s knows your name; they know where you’re coming from. The golf courses are always in incredible shape. They know how to treat a player like a TOUR event…It’s by far the best tournament of the year in my opinion.”
Dietrich tees off at 8:50 a.m. tomorrow, July 10, 2015 for the second round of the Players Amateur. The event is free to the public. For more information about the Players Amateur, click here.