Athlete of the Year: Bradley gets a boost from Bennetts

Mac Bradley had more than a successful senior year on the Grand Strand’s golf courses. The Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Year for boys golf also found a second home.

The military kid from New York, Hawaii, Maryland, South Korea and most recently Germany showed promise after picking up the game from his father at the age of 11, but he was having a tough time being recruited by colleges in the U.S.

Bradley’s dad looked for summer tournaments for his son to compete in to gain exposure last summer and discovered the Carolinas-based Hurricane Tour. A chance pairing with Conway sophomore Jeb Bennett, the son of former Coastal Carolina football coach David Bennett, changed Bradley’s course forever.

“I just happened to get paired with Jeb and he was telling me about this hot foreign exchange student at Conway,” Bradley recalled. “About halfway through the round he was like, ‘Hey, you should do that and come play for us. Hey mom, is it OK if Mac comes lives with us?’ It was crazy how it worked out.”

Bradley’s mother met with the Bennetts and agreed it was in her son’s best interest to play and gain exposure in the States. Soon he was just another member of the Bennett family, which grew in more ways than one.

“His mother had tears in her eyes and said, “I’ve been praying a family in the U.S. would take him in for his senior year,'” recalled David Bennett, who served as an assistant golf coach for the Tigers last season. “We were happy to have him.

“That boy weighed 168 pounds when he came to live with us and now he’s over 200. When my wife went to the grocery store she’d buy three gallons of white milk, three gallons of chocolate milk and those boys blew through it. Mac really shot up.”

But his golf scores started going down. After using the summer tour experience to adjust to the level of competition in the U.S., Bradley’s game really began to turn the corner in the spring.

“I was pretty good in Germany but I really had to pick up my game when I came here,” Bradley said. “I had a funky swing and I really had to work on my game to compete. My swing is still a little funky, but I improved a lot.”

Bradley won the Anderson Brothers and Blue Jacket Invitationals as well as the Region VI-AAAA tournament to lead the Tigers to the Lower State for the first time since 1982. The North-South All-Star selection placed eighth in the Lower State tournament to reach state tourney.

While Bradley was doing his part to attract interest from recruiters, so was Bennett. The former football and golf coach at Catawba College wrote letters on Bradley’s behalf to put him on the recruiting radar, and he finally got a hit when North Greenville College came calling.

Bradley recently returned home from a visit home to see his folks in Germany and he and his father made a side trip to London to catch up on lost time. Now it’s off to college to continue his golf career, but this time he will have two families rooting for him.

“My dad always told me to set my goals high and go for them, and that’s what I did, but I couldn’t have done it without the Bennetts,” Bradley said. “It was a great experience living with them. It was like an act of God.”

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