The Family Fogler
May 21, 2013
Ben Fogler was born at Vanderbilt Hospital.
On the evening of January 20, 1993, the 19th-ranked Vanderbilt men's basketball team played host to eighth-ranked Arkansas in a nationally televised game between two Southeastern Conference powers. Eddie Fogler was in his fourth season as the Commodores' head coach.
"I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I can remember the Arkansas game on a Wednesday night, ESPN," Eddie Fogler said. "I can remember we played very well and beat a very good Arkansas team pretty handily. I remember [Arkansas] Coach [Nolan] Richardson getting tossed out of the game with two technical fouls."
Billy McCaffrey's 28 points paced the Commodores as all five starters scored in double-figures en route to a 102-89 victory. But it was the events of the following day that have cemented the game into Coach Fogler's memory.
The next morning, the Fogler family became a foursome when Robin Fogler gave birth to her son, Ben, at Vanderbilt Hospital. The family moved to South Carolina later that year when Eddie accepted a job as the Gamecocks' head coach--a position he would hold until leaving coaching in 2001 when Ben was eight years old.
The latter move cleared the elder Fogler's calendar, allowing him to be ready when it became clear that Ben was interested enough in golf to start playing the junior circuit in his home state. Having that opportunity for father-son bonding was a huge bonus for dad.
"It's given me a lot of time to spend with my son," Eddie said. "He got very involved in South Carolina Junior Golf, which is a terrific junior golf organization. I got to learn how to be a golf dad and navigate tournaments and traveling, where to play and when to play. So Ben and I--and his mother, to some degree--we traveled. That was a lot of fun to do, and he and I spent some quality time together. He and I also rode home after he didn't play very well, which is when a lot of lessons are learned when you play the game of golf."
Ben progressed in the junior ranks to play many Carolinas Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association events. He earned a total of seven Top-20 finishes in AJGA events, including a runner-up finish at the 2010 North & South Junior Championship. He caught the eye of a number of college golf coaches. In making his decision about where to attend college, Ben remembered all the good things his parents had said about their time at Vanderbilt.
"Growing up, they always talked about how much they loved Nashville," Ben said. "And academics have always been stressed by them as coming first. Vanderbilt is in the top handful of schools in the country and the combination of academics and athletics, that's basically what sold it for me."
Ben was recruited by former Vanderbilt head coach Tom Shaw, but when Scott Limbaugh arrived to mentor the Commodore men's golf team, he also realized the potential Fogler held. Limbaugh attributes many of Fogler's best qualities to the example set forth by his father in athletics.
"He has some certain attributes that you can tell (he's a coach's son)," Limbaugh said. "He never backs down. He's a pretty tough, resilient kid when he's on the course--a tough competitor. I'm sure he gets a lot of that from his dad, and seeing how his dad was as a coach."
After ranking fifth on the team in scoring as a freshman, Ben has moved up to second on the squad and was the low Commodore in four events this season. At the Arkansas State University Fall Beach Classic, Ben's third-place finish helped lead Vanderbilt to its second of three team championships on the season.
Ben faced some adversity in the spring season when he was held out of the Jim West Intercollegiate in early April, another event captured by the Commodores. But instead of sulking, the sophomore responded by qualifying for the 2013 SEC Championship in Sea Island, Georgia.
"Coach Limbaugh stresses to us to be resilient," Ben said. "I'm a very competitive person and I want to play every tournament and hit every shot and be out there. When you don't play for the first time in a while, you feel it, and you just want to get out there and prove yourself the next time."
Ben posted the Commodores' low total at the event, but it was his Sunday round in harsh conditions that captured the biggest praise from his coach. Ben got off to a quick start with a birdie on the par-4 second hole, which he had bogeyed in each of the event's first two rounds. With three holes to play, Ben was at even-par on a day where the tournament scoring average had jumped two full strokes due, in part, to 30 mile-per-hour winds.
A triple-bogey on the 16th hole threatened to derail Ben's round, but he kept his composure to par 17 before stepping up on 18 to sink a 20-foot birdie putt. Limbaugh says that "never quit" attitude is a Fogler trademark, both on and off the course.
"He showed it at the SEC Championship," Limbaugh said. "The Southeastern Conference is by far the toughest golf conference in the country. We had 12 teams ranked in the Top 35 this year. For him to finish 20th there, and be our low man there, was really big. The round he played, the final round of the SEC Championship, was a really, really good round."
With all of the accomplishments he is racking up on the course, Ben has never lost sight of his academic responsibilities. The economics major was Vanderbilt's nominee for the SEC's annual Scholar-Athlete of the Year award after he held the team's highest GPA during the fall semester.
"He's really committed to being great in the classroom, and it's really important to me that we do the right things in the classroom," Limbaugh said. "Ben led our team in GPA in the fall, and that's just as important to me as him leading our team in the SEC Tournament. That's ultimately what we're here for."
Ben's academic record is solid enough that his parents refrain from questioning his progress in school.
"His mom and dad, we're awfully proud of what Ben's done at Vanderbilt," Eddie said. "He has done extremely well in the classroom. We don't really ask him much more about his academics because we have full faith and confidence that his grades are going to be good."
And now that Ben has found a home at Vanderbilt, his parents also have stopped from trying to show him around the city where they used to live.
"There was a little bit of that when we first came here, for the first visit or two," Ben said. "But they were here 20 years ago. Now I feel like I know the area better than they do."
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