Benton High golfers
Benton High School golf team seniors Shane Cram, Corbin Cantrell and Jacob Wyatt, with their coach, Tim Cram.
The story sounds more like Hollywood than reality, more fiction than fact. But it is true. In 2004 Benton High School won its first state championship ever, but not in football. These champions were golfers.
This was a huge moment for the school. It would be nearly ten years, though, before they tasted such victory again. That victory, though, was unexpected.
In 2012 Benton High made it back to the state championship. Going into the last day of the championship, they were losing. With three freshmen – Corbin Cantrell, Shane Cram, and Jacob Wyatt – on the five-person team, their odds of winning were not stellar. But Shane Cram, one of the three freshmen, explains that, “At regionals we played pretty terrible, and they only beat us by one. So, we knew we had a chance. We just knew we had to put two good rounds together and we’d have a shot at it.”
That’s exactly what they did. Coming from behind, they won it by two strokes. The team continued to win the state title the following two years, led by these same three young men. Now as seniors, they are gearing up to make a run at their fourth straight state championship.
The state title is not the only thing that drives these three seniors to play at their best. Corbin, Jacob, and Shane have known each other for a long time. As far back as the fourth grade, Corbin and Jacob have played together. Shane joined them in middle school. They are more than a golf team; they are friends. “We all hang out outside of golf, maybe twice as much as we do here,” Shane said.
For the game of golf, the importance of young players like these cannot be overstated. When asked about the importance of young dominant pros like Tiger Woods and Rory MacIlroy, they said that these definitely are important to the game.
“It used to be kids were kind of shoved off. But now kids are the priority…they are the future of the game,” said David Martinez, general manager of Palmetto Country Club, where the team practices.
The success of the team is not only important to Benton High School, it is important to the sport. If these young golfers go on to become increasingly successful, it might inspire the next generation of golfers. And their coach, Tim Cram, sees great potential for their success. He shared that all three players are looking at competing in college and beyond.
The success of Corbin, Jacob, and Shane was made possible largely by the support of the Palmetto Country Club. According to the golf team and general manager David Martinez, the members at Palmetto have been very supportive. The team practices at Palmetto, and the three seniors got their start playing golf there. Golf clubs like Palmetto are working to raise a new generation of golfer to revitalize the sport.
By Josh Guthrie