There was one lone fan straggling behind the gallery of the Price Cutter Charity Championship final round as the leaders transitioned from the scenic rock-lined area near the 15th green to an important par 4, 16th. Ben Silverman exited the restroom as he began the final stretch, walking past the Web.com Tour supporter for a rare one-on-one interaction between fan and player.
Normally, the chants and sayings are joined together in congruence at golf tournaments, but the encouragement Silverman received from the spectator was easily heard. It wasn’t a football locker room pep talk – simply a “Come on Ben, one or two more birdies. You can do this!”
“It was just a funny moment. I didn’t need a pick me up, but it was just something nice to hear and helped push me through to the end.”
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but Silverman went on to birdie the 16th, with his approach shot proving to be one of the pivotal shots of his round.
The significance of this iron shot was greater influenced by factors occurring around Silverman. Ahead at the 18th green, Talor Gooch converted a birdie putt to move to 24-under, one up on Silverman, and Chesson Hadley was lurking behind him. Silverman even had to ask officials what was going on around him.
Ultimately, after matching Gooch’s clubhouse score, Silverman birdied the par 5, 18th with a tap-in, and Hadley missed an eagle putt which would have tied him. Silverman hoisted the Price Cutter trophy, and even sweeter, earned his PGA Tour card with the win.
It was a goal Silverman made in college – to reach the PGA Tour by age 30. He’s currently 29. Mission accomplished.
“It’s amazing. It’s hard to put a number on a goal and actually achieve it within that time. I had no clue when I made that goal back in college.”
Born and raised in the Toronto area, it should come as no surprise to learn hockey was Silverman’s first love. He dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player, but once his teenage years came, injury worries crept into the mind of the undersized Canadian. In the same year he hung up the skates for good, Silverman was on vacation in Vancouver when his mom asked if he wanted to sign up for a one-week junior golf camp.
Golf was initially just a hobby for Silverman – hitting balls on the range in his spare time. But the lessons brought on a new passion for the 13-year-old.
Silverman studied the nuances of the game and decided to pursue a collegiate golf career. He still resided in Toronto at this time, but a friend was attending a school in Florida called Johnson & Wales. Silverman desperately wanted to continue golfing, so he set out to research scoring averages by players on the current roster. In a bold move, Silverman bet on himself with no guarantee that he was going to make the team when open tryouts were held.
“If I tried out and didn’t make the team, then I was kind of screwed. I would’ve had nowhere to practice and paying $25,000 a year for nothing.”
He made the team at Johnson & Wales where he played two seasons, then transferred to Florida Atlantic to conclude his college career. The next several years for Silverman were simply a grind as he turned professional.
Silverman began playing on the Minor League Golf Tour where he won over 30 tournaments, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. For players pursuing a career on a smaller golf circuit, a cold streak can take a hit financially, and Silverman can attest to that early in his pro career.
“I was getting some help from my parents at the time, but I had to work part-time, three days a week at a golf course,” he said. “I was using that money to pay for my entry fees and then hoping I would play well enough to pay for rent and groceries. It was a constant cycle of working, playing tournaments and just trying to support myself.”
Silverman received a helping hand courtesy of the Maccabiah Canada Golf Association, which provides a platform for athletes with any kind of Jewish heritage. An American golf supporter helped support Silverman to pay his expenses so he could focus on golf rather than a part-time job on the side.
Silverman returned to his Canadian roots and joined the Mackenzie Tour for two seasons, then was promoted to the Web.com Tour in 2016. Now on this stage, Silverman wanted to exceed and make the quick jump to the top-flight level but admitted he was drained by the season’s midway point. As a result, Silverman placed 131st on the Web.com money list.
In 2017, Silverman got off to another slow start, but as the summer approached, a couple top 20s turned into top 10s, and then placed 5th one week before his breakthrough Price Cutter victory. Since that Aug. 13 date, he has put together finishes of 7th, 2nd and 24th.
“I think the biggest thing was learning how to travel better and conserve energy,” Silverman said of his turnaround.
“I was trying to play 18 holes on Monday and Tuesday to learn the golf course, and I think early in the 2016 season I burnt myself out doing that. I then started paying more attention to myself and the practice I needed to do, and when to conserve energy – exploring the city we were in with my wife to have a little mental break.”
Speaking of his wife, Ben carries her name wherever the next tour destination is, with ‘Morgan’ printed on his putter hosel. The couple met at Palm Beach International Airport at the gate for a 7 a.m., flight to Atlanta as Ben couldn’t resist to urge to speak to her.
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 14, 2017
“I just saw a beautiful girl sitting by herself and I wanted to go talk to her,” he said with a laugh.
“I sat down and in a very lame way started a conversation, and we hit it off. We stayed in touch for like four weeks until we were finally able to get together, then dated long distance for a bit.
“And the rest is history.”
Indeed it is. And the next piece of history recently transpired in the Silverman household with the birth of their son, Jack Palmer, on July 18. Of course, we had to ask Ben about naming his son after the all-time great golfers, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, but it’s not exactly what you think. It’s actually a funny coincidence.
“His name probably has more influence on her side, but it’s just a coincidence that it happens to be two of the greatest golfers ever,” Silverman explained. “Her great uncle was named Jack, and it was name we both really liked on name lists. (Daniel Davis) Palmer was the founder of chiropractic and my wife comes from a family of chiropractors, so that really means a lot to both of us. It’s just a funny coincidence how it all worked out.”
Everything is coming together for Silverman this year, both on and off the golf course. He’ll continue competing throughout the remainder of the Web.com Tour this year, then set sights on his first season on the PGA Tour in 2018. But pretty soon, he’ll have another spectator talking in his ear to offer advice, and it’s not an average joe on a golf course. It’s the kid with one of the greatest names in the world, Jack Palmer.
“The fact I now have my wife and son makes it more about me only and about our family,” he said. “Every tournament means more now. Every dollar, cent and FedEx point is going to count more now because I’m playing for my whole family.”