WEB.COM TOUR INSIDER
The evolution of Ben Taylor's winning mindset
April 12, 2018
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
Ben Taylor messes with fans at LSU baseball game
Editor's note: Ben Taylor joined this week's Golf's Next Wave podcast to discuss his college teammate Smylie Kaufman's upcoming wedding, London's must-visit borough, his favorite dipping sauce and more. Click here to listen to the episode.
Ben Taylor grew up outside London, England, and his junior golf days were filled with team matches, representing both his county and his country.
Taylor grew accustomed to playing both match-play formats and team stroke-play formats, learning the nuances of competitive golf through the lens of what’s best for the team.
The 25-year-old carried that approach to the United States, where he played collegiately for Nova Southeastern (helping lead the Sharks to a Division II national title in 2012), and later for Louisiana State – helping the Tigers to a Division I title in 2015.
Playing on the Web.com Tour is a more individualistic proposition, but Taylor put the lessons of team play into use at this year’s Club Colombia Championship, where he shot 15 under at Bogota CC to win by six strokes and take massive strides in pursuit of his first PGA TOUR card via The 25.
“Looking back at Bogota, where I was three in the lead entering the last day, I know I’m in a position on such a tough golf course where only I could lose the tournament,” remembers Taylor. “People were only going to catch me if I gave them a chance to catch up.
“That’s when I was able to play what would feel like a match-play type of strategy. I knew that if I kept it in play off the tee, and if I kept it on the right sides of the pins … if I did miss the green, I had the best chance to save par. And I knew the golf course wasn’t easy enough for people to shoot that low.
“Looking back on my time in England and Europe, all the team formats that I played, I certainly feel it has helped me to generate the knowledge I have on the golf course today.”
Ben Taylor interview after winning Club Colombia
With team titles at the Division II and Division I levels, and now his Web.com Tour title in Bogota, Taylor can channel a wealth of knowledge and success into the chase for a PGA TOUR card.
A deep background in the game doesn’t hurt, either. Taylor was introduced to the game at a young age by his father, a professional golfer and club pro who owns a six-hole course and driving range (Pachesham Golf Centre) in Surrey, England, just outside London.
Taylor also played competitive hockey for four years and was fascinated by the game – as a 10-year-old, he made a trip to the United States to catch a Detroit Red Wings game. At age 12, though, he began to devote the vast majority of his focus to golf.
He hasn’t looked back.
“Back in the day, I wanted to be a superstar ice hockey player, more than a golfer,” Taylor remembers. “But I soon realized that chubby little kids from England weren’t any good at ice hockey. So we packed the skates up.”
Taylor doesn’t recall much of a culture shock upon moving across the Atlantic Ocean to Fort Lauderdale, as he began his college career at Nova Southeastern – “It was like a permanent vacation. Whistling at pretty girls, palm trees,” he says with a laugh.
FootGolf: Web.com Tour vs. Sporting Kansas City
He remembers being more struck by the cultural differences upon moving to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. Cajun country proved hospitable, though. He looks back on the overall college experience as “the time of my life,” with the Tigers’ NCAA team title in 2015 providing an indelible memory.
Taylor squared his match against Southern California’s Bobby Gojuangco with an eagle at the par-5 17th hole at The Concession GC. Walking up the 18th hole, he knew his team had already secured two points in the best-of-five match, so he knew that winning the hole – and the match – would mean the Tigers’ first national title in men’s golf since 1955.
After leaving a 40-foot putt well short of the hole, he had an eight-footer for the win.
“It was on me to hole it, so that I didn’t three-putt the last to extend the final,” Taylor remembers. “It never crossed my mind that it could possibly miss. My coach (Chuck Winstead) and I read it, I stuck to the routine, and it was dead center the whole way.”
The team’s return to campus might have been the highlight. Once the team van, surrounded by three police cars, arrived outside LSU’s administration building, it was mobbed by about 500 people offering their congratulations – “even (school mascot) Mike the Tiger.”
“It’s one of the coolest things that I’ve actually felt,” Taylor said. “That moment made me realize that the most … the love and support of all the people that follow you. It felt like the football team just won the SEC (Championship) or something. It was really, really cool.”
Earning a PGA TOUR card by season’s end would surely provoke a similar sentiment.