NEWTON, Kan. – Ben Hogenkamp’s name pays homage to a famous man of history.
Because he was born in March, his middle name is taken from St. Patrick, whose life and legacy are celebrated on March 17.
When it came to his first name, Nick and Susan Hogenkamp were looking for something short to complement their long last name. They settled on Ben, unaware of the double takes that their third son would encounter when introducing himself, especially after golf became his passion.
It’s totally a coincidence, said Hogenkamp, of Minster, Ohio, who is playing in his first USGA championship at the U.S. Amateur Public Links. It’s funny the reactions I get from people. Everybody assumes my dad was a big Ben Hogan fan.
In his second nine during the second round of stroke-play qualifying, Hogenkamp played like the four-time U.S. Open champion, making birdies on four of his final six holes to shoot 4-under 67 for a total of 2-under 140 that tied him for 10th.
That was the best round I’ve ever played, said Hogenkamp, 22, who hugged his parents and displayed the kind of joy that Hogan never evinced after a round. I didn’t think I had a 67 in my bag today, but once the wind laid down, I really got ahold of my driver and everything smoothed out. I took advantage of that.
In the first round of match play, Hogenkamp, the USGA rookie, will face Sean Knapp, 52, who is playing in his 34th individual USGA championship. They will tee off at 12:20 p.m. CDT.
A recent graduate of Wittenberg University, the 22-year-old took time out from his job search to enter the Public Links, the only tournament he planned on playing this summer. His qualifier was at Beavercreek (Ohio) Golf Club, a site with which he was familiar, and not just as a player.
Last summer, Hogenkamp was a P. J. Boatwright Intern for the Miami Valley Golf Association, working at the association thanks to a grant provided by the USGA. He was involved in many aspects of the organization, from helping to update the website to assisting with competitions, including qualifiers for USGA championships.
In 2013, Hogenkamp showed up early at Beavercreek for the Public Links qualifier, helped to set up, played 36 holes, then helped to clean up. This year, he only had one responsibility, and he won the qualifier, securing a trip to Newton, Kan.
That experience really has helped me, said Hogenkamp. You get a feel for the other side of the tournament experience and everything that goes on behind the scenes. I think that has made me feel at home here, because I feel like I know the people and how they run the championship.
At the Miami Valley Golf Association, Hogenkamp had a good mentor in Steve Jurick, the association’s executive director. In addition to teaching Hogenkamp about the golf industry, he encouraged his intern to keep playing golf, even taking him out to the course for matches. In fact, Jurick was quick to point out that he had beaten Hogenkamp last week.
It was wonderful to have Ben working for us last year, said Jurick. The things that I look for in a Boatwright candidate are stability of character, and the ability to learn and think on your feet. Whether it was working on the website, talking with members or dealing with competitors, Ben picked them up quickly.
Boatwright Interns are invaluable for us. They perform crucial day-in, day-out responsibilities.
One of the highlights of a Boatwright Internship is a two-day orientation session at the USGA’s headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., where scores of interns learn about the USGA’s work and its relationship with state and regional golf associations around the country.
During his visit last year, Hogenkamp enjoyed seeing Iron Byron in the Research and Test Center, as well the exhibits in the USGA Museum celebrating golf’s all-time greats. His favorite?
The Bob Jones Room.
Hunki Yun is the director of strategic projects for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.