May 15, 2013 01:15PM
● By tina
Texas locals Ben Crane and Hunter Mayhan are one-half of Internet sensation Golf Boys.
Pro Golfers Who Call North Texas Home
By Catherine Adcock, Deputy Editor
The number of professional golfers choosing to make North Texas their home continues to rise — and why not! With some of the best golf courses in the world and year-round playability, the area can be an Eden of sorts for any golf aficionado. In a 2010 interview with Southlake Style, Ben Crane opened up about his move to Texas. “Justin Leonard and Paul Stankowski, along with several friends on tour really put me on to the area,” he said. “I remember Paul pulled out a map of Vaquero Country Club and suggested I take a look. He suggested that I should buy a lot, and if ‘the golf thing works out’ I should build a house there.” The golf thing did work out for Crane and many others who call the Southlake area home.
Those familiar with a young Hunter Mahan could have told you he had the makings of a dominating golf pro many years earlier. In 1999, while a student at McKinney High School, Mahan won not only the 5A Texas State High School Golf Championship title, but also captured the U.S. Junior Amateur title. His former high coach Jerry Crumpton once recalled, “He was the type of player that when we’d go to a tournament, the other kids would ask, ‘Did you bring Hunter?’ and ‘Which one is he?’ Other coaches would end up following him, watching him play at times, instead of their own players.”
Today, Mahan continues to call North Texas home. Despite news of a multi-million dollar estate in the works in Dallas, the PGA still notes that he resides in Colleyville with his wife, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and Dallas Mavericks dancer Kandi Harris.
Following his time as one of the best in Texas, Mahan’s subsequent amateur years as a college student at the University of Southern California and then Oklahoma State University were marked by achievement after achievement: Pacific-10 Conference Freshman of the year; two-time Big 12 Conference Player of the Year; and two time first-team All American.
He earned his pro tour card in 2004 at the ripe age of 21, the second-youngest member of the tour that year. But being young never stopped Mahan before. He closed out the year with three Top 10 finishes. “Nothing prepares you for playing out on tour, being out on your own,” Mahan told PGAtour.com this past March. “It’s a different mental outlook. [In college], you’re playing in a small group of guys your age who are really good, [then you] come out here and [are] playing against guys who, for the last 20 years, have been really good.”
Three years after joining the PGA tour, Mahan racked up his first professional win at the 2007 Travellers Championship by comfortably beating Jay Williamson in the playoffs. His performance netted him a place on the 2007 U.S. President’s Cup team after being selected by Jack Nicklaus as one of two captain’s picks. He’s since been a member of four more President’s Cup teams and one Ryder Cup team, and he has garnered eight professional wins and $24.2 million in career earnings.
By 2010, the golf world was talking Hunter. That year, he racked up two PGA tour wins, beating Rickie Fowler by one stroke at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and besting fellow North Texan Ryan Palmer by 2 strokes at the WGC-Bridgestone International.
More recently, Mahan just missed making the 2012 Ryder Cup team after a year that included two professional wins at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open.
So far this year, the 30-year-old (he turns 31 on May 17) has started off strong. The defending champion of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship made it to the final of the 2013 event only to be beaten two-and-one by Matt Kuchar. He finished top 25 in the Cadillac championship, and it’s no wonder. During the downtime of the off-season, Mahan spent time with his team, regrouping and considering how to have an even more successful year. “I feel very clear in what I have to do right now, and that allows me to go out there and play golf and play free,” he said in March.
Westlake resident Ben Crane first made a name for himself at the University of Oregon. He had previously attended Baylor University, where he got his first taste of the state he would eventually call home. He turned pro in 1999 and earned his PGA Tour card in 2002. By 2003, Crane quickly racked up his first professional win at the Bellsouth Classic when he comfortably beat out runner-up Bob Tway with a four-stroke lead. More recently, Crane brought home his first Top 10 finish of 2013 at the Houston Shell Open, coming in at No. 4. The 37-year-old has racked up seven professional wins and posted career earnings of $17.4 million. Off the greens, Crane dedicates many hours to several charities, including Love 416, and is the mastermind behind Golf Boys (see sidebar). A resident of Westlake with his wife Heather and their two children, Ben can often be spotted strolling through Southlake Town Square with his family. For the man who wasn’t born here but got here as soon as he could, his golf game, like everything else, comes down to a matter of faith. “My goal for this year, like every year, is to glorify God,” he told Southlake Style in 2010.
This West Texas native cut his golf teeth at Texas A&M University before turning pro upon graduating in 2000. He joined the PGA Tour in 2004 and has posted four professional wins and $13.7 million in career earnings since. The 36-year-old’s dramatic career arc launched quickly with a win at the 2004 FUNAI Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort. A short four years later, Palmer faced rough and rainy conditions at the Ginn Sur Mer Classic and persevered through the water-logged course to win by one stroke over no fewer than five players. Palmer’s most dramatic finish occurred closer to home at the HP Byron Nelson in 2011. As he and rookie Bradley Keegan entered the playoffs, both faced the same windy conditions in the first extra round, and both teed off to the right into the trees. But Palmer hooked his approach into the water, while Keegan managed to make his close to the green, eventually winning the event. Today, Palmer and his wife Jennifer spend much of their free time working to better the lives of children through the Ryan Palmer Foundation.
The Golf Boys
Texas locals Ben Crane and Hunter Mahan form one-half of the Internet sensation Golf Boys. Along with Masters Champion Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, the group recorded a tongue-in-cheek send-up of popular boy band music videos in 2011. In the rather revealing video for the song, “Oh, Oh, Oh,” Crane gamely sports a bright-red unitard and blue helmet while Mahan rocks a knee-length, faux leopard fur coat and leopard-print leggings. For every 100,000 views on YouTube, Farmers Insurance pledged to donate $1,000 to Farmers’ and Ben Crane’s charitable initiatives. Recently, the Golf Boys responded to demand, of course, for a follow-up, releasing their second single, “2.Oh,” this past March. Proceeds from the Boys’ sophomore release, self-described as “a hip-hop video featuring four hopelessly tone-deaf and rhythm-deprived golfers,” benefit the nonprofit charity: water.