Each week throughout the year we will spotlight one Epson Tour player and provide an in depth look into her life - both on and off the course. Up next in "This week is all about..." series is Brittany Benvenuto.
Brittany Benvenuto is a left-handed women’s professional golfer. That alone makes the Pennsylvania native stand out on the Epson Tour.
The history of left-handed women’s golfers is very short. Bonnie Bryant’s victory at the 1974 Bill Branch Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla., is the only LPGA victory by a lefty, a direct opposite to the trend that began on the PGA Tour with New Zealand’s Bob Charles winning in the 1960s and has escalated with the play of Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson and others.
There have been a handful of wins on the Epson Tour by southpaws, but their upward mobility toward the LPGA has been limited, with zero top-10 finishes among the other four left-handers, in addition to Bryant, who have played at least one season on the world’s largest tour. Angela Buzminski has won five times on the Epson Tour since 2000, but didn’t carry forward. Benvenuto and Buzminski are the only lefties on either tour this season.
This is where Benvenuto, 26, steps in. The natural right-hander finished third at the Volvik Championship in California on March 1, elevating her to seventh on the Epson Tour money list as the schedule moves to Florida on March 27. The top 10 players earn their LPGA cards for 2016.
“I never see a left-handed girl when I play, even amateurs,” said Benvenuto, who learned to play left-handed after an early start in softball. “And you know that I’m kind of a right-handed person who plays golf on the wrong side of the ball.”
Being a left-handed golfer isn’t the only thing that sets Benvenuto apart. When she was a high school junior, Benvenuto was the captain of the boys team at Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Pa., north of Philadelphia. The team included her older brother Nick, a senior.
“I never looked at myself and felt that I was different even though I was a girl and a left-hander on the boys team,” Benvenuto said. “I lived across the street from the municipal course and the only way I could play was to work there. We had a little group that grew up on the course playing together. They were very supportive and that’s why I was so comfortable.”
Benvenuto realized she had a chance to play the game for a living in high school. She spent two semesters at the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida, a trip that enabled her to earn a scholarship to the University of Arizona where current LPGA player Alison Walshe was a teammate. After college, professional golf wasn’t the total focus, but after committing to the process and learning from Arizona-based instructor Susie Meyers, Benvenuto has steadily improved – from 166th to 107th to 59th and this season’s high mark.
“Susie has helped change my game 100 fold,” Benvenuto said. “My swing feels a lot simpler. More importantly, she helped changed the way I think around the course and in life in general. My mindset has completely changed – I’m more in the present and more positive.”
And evidently en route to becoming known for more than just swinging from the left side.