|Ben Cox enjoys some time on course with dad|
|Written by Chris Lee|
As Ben Cox was wiggling his way into his customized golf cart Tuesday, June 26 at Ballyneal Golf Club, some of the troopers from a day earlier were waking up after a full day of golf.
“I feel a lot better than I did last night,” one of them said when asked by fellow competitors how the muscles were feeling.
Cox, who was injured in a March 2011 skiing accident, was at Ballyneal last year just over three months after finding out he was paralyzed from the chest down. He was playing golf with his old man—it was Father’s Day.
He was able to play two holes of golf last year but he had a little bigger goal set for this time around. He was going to play the front nine holes at the course southeast of Holyoke with his father to wrap up the Hundred Hole Hike (HHH) at Ballyneal.
Before they hit the course last Tuesday, Ben was introduced to some of the nine golfers who had spent the previous day golfing to help raise more than $200,000 in pledges as part of the nation-wide HHH. They were waking up after playing over 100 holes of golf just a day earlier—something that would probably kill most people, especially in 100-plus degree heat.
More on that later ...
Ben Cox, at left, is all smiles as he greets Jim Colton Tuesday morning, June 26. Colton, who helped raise over $110,000 for Cox during the Ben Cox 155 last year, was a main backer in this year’s Hundred Hole Hike which was held Monday, June 25 at Ballyneal.
Cox and his father, Kenneth, hit the course last Tuesday for some holes of their own—something Ben did for the first time a year ago after a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. —Enterprise photo
Last year Ben managed to play two holes of golf due in part to a special golf cart provided by Ballyneal. This year, Ben was in a similar cart but it was one his dad found and fixed up for him.
The seat in which Ben sits not only swivels to the side to allow for swinging room, but it also tips forward and in essence, stands Ben up. There is a sun shade above the chair but it folds out of the way as the seat is raised and tipped.
Kenneth said he found the cart in Sterling. It had belonged to an amputee who recently died.
The only problem Ben and his dad found first thing Tuesday morning was maneuvering the cart down the course. Since Ben doesn’t have a full grip, he has to wear a special golf glove designed by Craig Hospital to help hold the club in his hand. A club is secured within the glove and removing the club each time to drive between shots just adds that much more time to his round.
After fitting the glove on his hand and preparing to move to the first tee, Jim Colton appeared to greet Ben. Colton raised over $110,000 for the Cox family last year during the Ben Cox 155—the event which has spawned into the HHH. After hearing of Cox’s accident, he wanted to do something. He had an original goal of walking 108 holes and raising $5,000. That quickly ballooned into 155 holes and over $110,000.
Ben and his father received baby blue HHH shirts last Tuesday, like those worn by the nine golfers the previous day. Colton explained the blue came from the shirts Ben and Kenneth were wearing last year when they played together on Father’s Day.
Colton even had another surprise for Ben—a pair of TRUE linkswear HHH golf shoes. “These would be great if I could feel my feet,” Ben said with a smirky grin on his face. He put them on anyway.
About midway through the first hole, Ben and his father joked with Colton that it was a pretty sick joke to give someone who can’t walk a pair of nice golf shoes. Colton acknowledged but said he was going more for the look.
Last Tuesday when Ben pulled up to the first tee, it was obvious he was in a good mood as he joked, “I can’t believe we are playing from the same tee,” referring to his father.
After a few adjustments and the all important introduction, Ben teed up, aimed and smashed the ball straight down the fairway. He received numerous cheers and praises. His buddy Colton chimed in with, “That’s straighter than you’ve ever been.” Kenneth said Ben’s core has gotten a lot stronger over the past year which has helped his swing.
Former Ballyneal caddie Ben Cox makes solid contact with his first drive last Tuesday morning. Ben’s father, Kenneth, found a custom golf cart that allows his son to hit the ball despite the lack of use of his legs and full grip of the club. —Enterprise photo
After Ben’s second shot,
Colton showed his amazement again by saying, “Ben, you’re money!”
Ben went on to take an eight on the first hole last Tuesday—something he seemed to be alright with. “Awesome,” Colton said.
Being the competitor Ben is, he was keeping score in his head hoping to squeeze one by the old man. Kenneth even took a mulligan off the first tee. He said he was going to have to give Ben a lot of shots.
As the twosome moseyed up the hill to Hole 2 tee, one could definitely tell they were happy to be on the course together.
Ben and Kenneth went on to play seven and a half holes last Tuesday. Midway through the eighth hole, the heat and exhaustion did the duo in.
Despite falling short of his goal, it was a great day on the course with dad. Ben ended up taking 71 shots. “Par,” Ben joked.
Ben was scheduled to return to Lubbock, Texas last Friday. He has 10 credit hours left before he receives his civil engineering degree from Texas Tech University. He hopes to complete that degree this fall.
Oh and by the way, he is engaged to be married to fiance Stephanie Cruz on March 17, 2013—the two-year anniversary of his tragic accident.
“We wanted to turn something bad into something good,” Ben noted.
Ben Cox drives his golf cart down the fairway of Hole 1 at Ballyneal Golf Club Tuesday morning, June 26. His father, Kenneth, is not far behind. The two were able to enjoy some holes of golf together last week. —Enterprise photo
Hundred Hole Hike eclipses $200K
Nine Ballyneal members came together Monday, June 25 with one goal in mind. Each golfer set out bright and early with the hopes each would have played at least 100 holes of golf by the time the sun fell over the chop hills south of Holyoke.
After finding so much success last year with the Ben Cox 155, the Hundred Hole Hike was formed.
HHH is a national network of golf marathons where participants plan to walk 100 or more holes of golf in one day in order to raise money for various worthwhile charitable causes.
Colton launched the Ben Cox 155 June 22, 2011. Managed by Colton’s One Divot, a charity that aims to help change the world for the better one divot at a time—HHH is inspired by the Ben Cox 155.
A total of 64 hikers are scheduled to complete the HHH this year. As of Monday, June 25, 17 golfers around the U.S. had walked 1,918 holes with $208,000 pledged.
Last Monday, nine golfers heard their alarms well before the sun had even peeked the horizon. By the time all was said and done, each golfer had surpassed their 100-hole goal. Colton, for the second year in a row, walked 155 holes of golf in one day. He said Tuesday morning that around hole 135 he wasn’t sure he would be able to continue. But with daylight left, he marched on.
The nine golfers helped boost the HHH total over $200,000 in pledges.
Those participating at Ballyneal for charities of their choice were Colton, Brian Carruthers, Doug Wright, John Penny, Jon Miller, Mitch Ehly, Rob Miller, Rob Rigg and Wyatt Halliday.
For more information or to donate to HHH, visit http://hundredholehike.com.
Holyoke Enterprise June 5, 2012