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By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Goldendale Golf Club members and high school team get lessons from pro coach

 

April 18, 2018

Jaryd Cline

Professional golf coach Jeff Bender goes over the results of Josie Quantrell's swing on his Trackman device last Wednesday at the Goldendale Golf Club.

Last Wednesday and for the previous 10 years at the Goldendale Golf Club, professional golf coach Jeff Bender has made the trip to Goldendale from his hometown of Prosser to help partake in the annual Pete Lee Memorial Clinic.

Bender, who's been golfing his entire life, reached Pacific Northwest Section and the Nebraska Section of the PGA, 'but his heart was always in coaching and training the game,' which he's done for most of the last two decades.

But last Wednesday at the Goldendale Golf Club, Bender held two training sessions, a morning session for club members and an afternoon session with members of the Goldendale High School golf team, with his Trackman.

Bender brought his Trackman, "the best and most accurate launch monitor and golf radar on the market," which provides you with the most accurate feedback on ball flight and club data among many other things.

He's been coming to Goldendale at least once a year for a decade, dodging deer on the way down while once running out of gas in Bickleton. He had worked in Goldendale earlier though, and coached a pair of siblings who went on to golf collegiately after stellar high school careers.

"Two young people came out of the mountains – Bree and Zach Wanderscheid – and they didn't have a lot to go with," Bender said.

Not too long after, Zach won a pair of Class 1A state golf championships before going on to golf at the University of Idaho while Bree also won two state titles and is currently golfing in her senior year at Washington State University.

Bender coached the siblings from Goldendale, but also coaches golfers from all over the northwest.

He currently coaches kids from Tacoma, Lewiston, Idaho, La Grande and Arlington, Oregon, along with a handful of players around the Yakima Valley.

Before Bender started to coming to Goldendale every year, the high school team used to go over to Prosser to the Black Rock Creek Golf Course and train with Bender.

Sherrye Morrison, the bookkeeper at the Goldendale Golf Club, thought it would be a good idea and beneficial to the Goldendale golf community as a whole if Bender came to Goldendale to not only teach the high schoolers, but anyone around town who's interested.

"I said, 'What about if we bring Bender here to Goldendale instead of just the juniors benefiting, let some of the residents, the members benefit from it as well,'" Morrison said.

Bender then began coming to Goldendale, setting up mini sessions to work individually with club members before working with the high schoolers during their practice.

When the members heard Bender would be in town to work individually with them with his Trackman, they couldn't sign up quick enough.

"But when (the members) heard they were going to have an evaluation, a one-on-one with Jeff Bender, I mean, they signed up right away," Morrison said.

Bender's former students have earned massive scholarships in the past, with one of his top academic girl golfers even earning a $416,000 academic scholarship to Pomona College, a Division III school in Claremont, California.

"That's the biggest reward," Bender said. "Look, if you can play this game, and you want to play it and go to college for free ... there are golf scholarships just sitting there."

That's one of the aspects of the job that he enjoys most, setting his players up for success on the golf course but more importantly setting them up for success later in life.

"I can say that I've played with Tiger Woods. I can say that I've played with Phil Mickelson," Bender said. "But no, my fondest memories actually keep going. I'm 48 now and there's some really surreal things that are happening now."

Bender currently coaches a few high school girls who he knows have the talent to play professionally down the road. One of his students is the youngest national ranked women's golfer in the state and another he's played with is ranked in the top 150 golfers nationally.

"So I'm literally looking at two young ladies and I'm going 'I'm playing with future tour players.' So it's very, very spooky because they're good in all sorts of ways," Bender said.

He's played on the PGA Tour, he's golfed with some of the legends of the sport, but Bender looks at older golf coaches who have guided their students to the top of the sport, and hopes to soon see himself in the same position.

"I think the best is yet to come," Bender said. "I would say I've had some good memories but I'm hoping there's better."

More information on Bender and his golf academy can be found at bendergolfacademy.com.

 

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