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Fairmont State’s Knight in limbo

Photo provided Former Ritchie County Rebel and current Fairmont State University senior Ben Knight celebrates his first career hole-in-one last Thursday at Pinehurst’s The Cradle Course. Soon thereafter he learned the NCAA had canceled all spring championships.

PARKERSBURG — Golfers play the game for a variety of reasons.

The ultimate goal for many is to finally make that elusive first ace.

Some golfers can play their entire life and never get a hole-in-one while others seem to perhaps just have better luck.

Ben Knight, a first team all-Mountain East Conference golfer for Fairmont State University, finally had his dream come true last Thursday while playing Pinehurst’s The Cradle, a par 3 course which opened in 2017.

“That was my first one and it was pretty cool,” said the ex-Ritchie County Rebel standout of recording an ace on the No. 8 hole. “It was 59 yards. All the grass down there is dormant and we were hitting off mats.

“We were playing in a sevensome and the hole was just a little bit up hill. We saw it go in and it was pretty cool. I’ve holed out from further before, but it wasn’t for a hole-in-one.”

Knight and his Fighting Falcon teammates had opened the spring season in late February in Hilton Head, S.C.

“There have been 389 aces on the entire course,” Knight said after he made his. “The greens on that course are really sloped and it just depends where the pins are. You can hit something a little further and spin it back toward the hole.

“Some of the pins were pretty impossible, just so much undulation on those greens. You hit thousands and thousands of golf balls at flags and I’ve been close. I’ve hit the flag and tore up the cup. When you see one go in you are like ‘what’ and it was awesome.”

His ace didn’t come in a competition, but the Fighting Falcons had taken a spring break trip to have fun, bond and continue working on their game.

“We stayed in a house down there,” Knight continued. “We were all sitting and they canceled March Madness. I saw that in the van on the way back. I was constantly refreshing Twitter and looking at the NCAA page and then it said they canceled all spring championships for Division I, II and III. It just didn’t seem real. Two times that day what happened didn’t seem like it actually happened, like total culture shock.

“We have fall and spring seasons, year around you are playing golf and prepping for regionals. Fairmont State hasn’t sent a team to the regional golf tournament in forever. Last year, we had a pretty good year, but our last tournament they canceled the final day and they take like the top nine, 10 teams in each regional and we were the alternate.”

The FSU senior, who was looking forward to helping his team reach the regionals this spring, admitted “I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder this year and our team did. We were sitting like eighth in the regional (rankings) in the middle of February.

“We knew we were in a decent spot to make regionals and that was the team goal to make it to regionals and we were all just handcuffed. There was nothing we could do.”

The NCAA has announced it was planning to grant an extra season of competition to all student-athletes who have participated in spring sports this year. However, the NCAA’s Council Coordination Committee is still working on the details.

“The thing I’m questioning now they are granting seniors another season of eligibility,” Knight added. “I think there are a lot of blanks that need to be filled in. Our national championship (which has been canceled) is in the spring and our conference championship is in the fall.”

Knight said he had to take six hours this summer and would graduate with his degree in business administration.

“I have a couple online classes and they extended our spring break a week so we are technically on spring break and all classes we had in class are online,” he continued. “They sent out an online orientation kind of deal on how to take tests, how to submit assignments if you actually never had an online class.

“I’m kind of at the point do I want to grow up and go into the real world? I’m sitting and waiting to see what they say. I need a little more concrete information to make a decision, plus that’s a whole other year of school.”

Playing the waiting game now, Knight said it’s been a taxing ordeal overall, but he’s holding out hope the day of his first career hole-in-one isn’t going to mark the end of his golfing career with Fairmont State University.

“It was like a black Thursday, everything shut down and everyone was just waiting,” Knight noted. “I’m trying to stay as positive as I can about it.

“I could put in all this work and all these sacrifices and I don’t think it’s the way it’s supposed to end. I’m trying to be as hopeful and optimistic about it that the right thing will come about.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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