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As an excelling an amateur, Drexel golf coach Ben Feld serves literal inspiration to his Dragons

Philadelphia Inquirer 9/28/2022 Matt Ryan, The Philadelphia Inquirer

When Ben Feld’s golf career at Drexel came to a close, he wasn’t sure what he would do professionally. He had an important decision to make, and, ultimately, someone who had recently arrived at the West Philly campus led Feld to make a life-changing move.

In Feld’s senior season with the Dragons, Chris Crawford made his debut for Drexel, and it was then that Feld could tell Crawford was different. Feld decided to stick around as an assistant coach, and, after all these years, he hasn’t left.

“It was pretty apparent that [Crawford] was going to be a special player, and I thought, ‘Hey, why not hang out, get a master’s degree, and help Chris and the program along for the next couple of years?’” Feld said. “And little did I know what I was getting myself into.”

After initially joining the staff in 2013, Feld became the interim head coach in February 2016. That June, he was formally named head coach, and now, he’s entering his sixth season at the helm of a golf program that’s on the rise.

“When I think of a way to describe Feld as a coach, I think of relatability,” said Jeffrey Cunningham, a 2022 graduate and member of Feld’s first recruiting class. “His young age, incredible game, and life experiences make it so that he has most likely lived through the challenges and hardships that a student-athlete goes through during their time at Drexel.”

Although Feld is coaching (and also a financial adviser), he has continued to play amateur competitive golf as an amateur since he graduated. At 31, he has competed in numerous big events, including earning a gold medal at the European Maccabi Games in 2015 and winning the 2017 Golf Association of Philadelphia Middle-Amateur Championship.

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Feld credited his love for competition to his dad, Larry Feld, who died in 2018.

“The biggest reason I have for enjoying competition so much and having the perspective and attitude I have is my father,” Feld said. “[He] taught me to chase dreams and never give up. So I think about him a lot on the golf course.”

With work taking up a lot of his time, Feld has to be more diligent when he practices. If he’s not giving full effort, it’s not worth his time and the sacrifice people like his wife, Jessica, are making for him. He mentioned that the lack of time he gets to play golf has increased his desire to improve and compete.

Feld said that over the past five years, he’s seen his golf game “improve pretty substantially” every year and that his goals within competing have changed.

Last month he played in his first USGA event, the 122nd U.S. Amateur in Paramus, N.J. Only 312 of the 7,749 entries qualified. In stroke play, which was 36 holes, Feld shot 6-over par, missing a playoff to go to the round of 64 by one stroke.

“[I] didn’t feel like I really had my best stuff, so to be able to be in the mix at that level with some of the best players in the world was awesome,” Feld said. “To continue to try to qualify for USGA events with the ultimate goal of winning one, one day, for sure is something that I’ve thought about.

“It was the coolest golf experience that I’ve ever had in my life. Obviously, a piece of me is disappointed, and it was painful to be watching these guys on TV that shot one, two shots better than me. But really, 95% of my emotions coming away from that week were overwhelmingly positive because I felt incredibly validated in the work that I put in, and I proved to myself that I belong at that level.”

Nearly a decade ago, Feld decided to stay at Drexel. At the time, no one knew what was in store.

But all these years later, it’s safe to say that even when Feld didn’t know what to do professionally, he still ended up making the right choice.

©2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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