Bennett Wisner's competitive golf journey is only five years old yet it has already given him more than his share of success, and the latest has the Hampstead resident headed to Indiana at the end of the month to play in the biggest junior tournament of the year.
Wisner, 15, will be in the field for the Junior PGA Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind., at Sycamore Hills Golf Club. Wisner earned a spot by winning the Middle Atlantic PGA tourney title last weekend at Montgomery Country Club in Laytonsville with a final-round 65.
Wisner's two-day total of 137 was two strokes better than Columbia's Tyler Silberberg, who won the MPSSAA state championship last fall. And Wisner's second-round 7 under was the best score of the tournament.
Earlier in the week, Wisner won the 14-15 age division title at the Maryland Junior Amateur at Baltimore Country Club.
And he didn't even know the MAPGA tourney was taking place until he walked off the 18th green at the junior am and someone mentioned it to him.
Wisner was a last-minute entry at Montgomery Country Club and won the title thanks to a bogey-free second round that included an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole.
"He had a pretty good week," said Bob Wisner, Bennett's father, who still can't believe how much his son has achieved in a short time. "Sometimes it still feels surreal, but he's handled it pretty well so far."
Bennett Wisner didn't start playing until he was 10, back in 2007, and only after he watched Zach Johnson win the Masters and decided he'd give the sport a try. Four years later, as a rising sophomore at Boys' Latin, Wisner carded a 63 at his home course, Piney Branch Golf Club in Hampstead, setting a new course record.
Last spring he established himself as Boys' Latin's top player and earned a spot on the All-MIAA A Conference first team. Now he's streaking through the summer tournament rankings and has a big trip planned for the Midwest in a few weeks.
Wisner said he recently went through a stretch of poor play and sought advice from an old swing coach, who told him to shut off all communication from his other golf sources and focus on his shots.
"I wasn't mad that I was putting up bad scores," he said. "I was mad because I knew I could do better. ... That really helped."
Bob Wisner said his son won't be playing in any tournaments until the PGA Junior Championship, which starts July 31. The tourney is open to one male and female winner from 41 different qualifiers, as well as a few other select national junior tournaments throughout the year.
It's a tournament that has served as a starting point for several standout professional players, such as Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
The hard work it takes to qualify is something Bennett has been displaying for some time, his dad said.
"He's 100 percent committed," Bob Wisner said.
Bennett Wisner agreed and said he hopes to post low scores at the PGA Junior Championship in honor of his grandfather, who died in February. And the jitters that he'll have on the first tee will be welcomed.
"If you don't feel nervous, then you shouldn't be there," he said. "I think I use it to my advantage, and then I relax and just try to have fun."