Golfer Ben Crumley and coach Bill Crumley end North Marion careers at 4A state championships

by: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion golf coach Bill Crumley and golfer Ben Crumley left North Marion together.

At the end of the school year, North Marion High School said farewell to the Crumleys. Ben Crumley wrapped up his high school career, while his father, Bill — a longtime coach and educator — is set to retire.

But before the two left North Marion for good, the Crumleys made one final mark at the Class 4A boys golf state championships.

It was the second-consecutive trip to the OSAA tournament for Ben, who finished 31st out of 81 golfers at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell last year.

Ben qualified as an individual this season after shooting an opening-round score of 85 at OGA Golf Course in Woodburn and improving by six strokes on the second day to finish third on the leaderboard and earn first-team all-conference honors.

“It was kind of a disappointing first day, especially considering I spend a lot of time at OGA,” Ben said. “I just had to be confident. I knew what I was capable of doing there and just had to focus on how to play the course.”

For his second trip to state, Ben traveled to Eagle Crest Golf Resort in Redmond. It’s a course he had never played, but Bill, who coaches the North Marion golf team, has experience there and said the course matches well with Ben’s game.

“It’s higher elevation, so the ball travels a little bit,” Bill said. “It’ll be a little bit of a test for the boys at first to see what their distances are, because it’s going to be different.”

Said Ben: “When I get going, hitting well off the tee, I hit the ball fairly far. If I get my long clubs and my wedges dialed in, I’ll be doing fairly well. I mean if you’re hitting fairways and greens, it’s a pretty easy game.”

Ben’s goal was to aim for a top 20 finish with a two-day score below 160. He ended up shooting a 74-81 (155) to take seventh place.

Although the tournament marked the end of Ben’s high school golf career, he plans on taking his game south this fall to Biola University, a small private school in Southern California. Ben was drawn to Biola in part because his older sister Megan has been going there for two years.

“I went down there with her and I really liked it,” he said. “You can’t argue with playing golf in 70- to 80 degrees all year long. It’s a lot of fun.”

His father likely won’t be far behind, either. Ben is the last sibling out of four to leave the Crumley house, and with retirement ahead, Bill and his wife, Joanna, are excited to take advantage of the extra time.

“My wife and I are looking forward to the opportunity to have some freedom and spend a bunch of time with the grandkids, chase these guys around wherever they go and get to watch them compete,” Bill said.

He already does some part-time volunteer coaching with the Biola track team, where Megan competes as a thrower, and retirement allows him to dedicate more time with her, and with Ben, whom he has coached for the past seven years.

“Coaching Ben is kind of like watching somebody that’s really good at something and just kind of giving him tips,” Bill said. “I haven’t had to do much. I just guide him and use my eyes with the things he already knows.”

Said Ben: “It’s gotten to the point where he knows most of what I’m doing. It’s just a matter of wording it in a way that a PGA pro teacher would say it.”

Ben, a varsity athlete in basketball and football, decided golf was the sport he wanted to pursue after college.

“Golf isn’t just a sport ... it’s a passion,” he said. “I enjoy every part of it. With other sports, you enjoy the game when you’re in the moment, but with golf, everything about it I love, and that’s what it came down to.”

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