Athlete of the Issue: Ben Soicher
Most people consider golf to be a sport designated for old, wealthy men who socialize more than exercise and drive around the golf course in their Polo T-shirts and slacks. Well, that’s not the case for Ben Soicher, an eighth grade student at Mill Valley Middle School (MVMS).
Soicher picked up his first golf club when he was two and hasn’t put it down since. He was introduced to the game by his father, Barry Soicher, who played for Tulane University in college and brought Soicher to the course to watch him play regularly. “He’d give me candy every time he made a bogey [one stroke over par],” Soicher said.
But golf is not as popular with the rest of the Soicher family. “[My] mom and brother hate it,” Soicher said, laughing.
Despite his young age, he enjoys the game because of its individual aspect, “I’ve never really liked team sports, and in golf if you play badly, you can’t hide behind someone else,” he said.
Soicher has been ruthless on the course. Coming off six straight tournament wins, including the San Jose Invitational, Soicher was the youngest golfer to qualify for the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA).
Soicher has also played with Division I golfers from Stanford. Last summer, he competed in a tournament with 70 participants, most of whom were in college, and managed to place 16th. In addition, he has played in a two-day event with golfers from Beijing.
Soicher says his very first tournament during fifth grade was the most influential. “I saw a kid playing at a tournament who was 16 and really good, and that’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
Soicher currently plays for the MVMS golf team and practices at the Mill Valley and Sonoma golf courses five times a week after school. And if he is not at the course, he has a net in his backyard and a putting green in his room.
Soicher plans to continue golfing as a Hawk. “Right now [my decision is] probably Tam. It’s less difficult academically, which would make more time for golf,” Soicher said. “There would be less stress about grades.”
His second option is Branson, but he seems confident about playing golf at Tam.“I talk a lot with [varsity coaches] Dustin [Nygaard] and Bruce [Cardinal], and most of my friends are going there,” Soicher said. “They also have a really good [golf] team.”
Soicher is talented enough to take Tam to the elite level, and he definitely has the motivation to get there. “All his hard work, he’s done it himself. He really loves the game,” Soicher’s father said.
Soicher’s goal is to play for the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) during high school, an organization that runs elite tournaments for amateurs. What keeps Soicher motivated is the urge to always improve his game. “You have no idea how you’re going to play. There have been times when I’ve been upset, but it’s just about getting better,” he said. “Never stop trying on the golf course, because every shot counts.”