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Trenton golfer succeeds despite early hearing loss PHOTOS

  • Trenton senior golfer Ben Martenson lost his hearing at 18 months old after being treated for Meningitis. With the help of a Cochlear implant, he has gone on to live a normal life and this fall will take his talents to Albion College. Photo by Terry Jacoby
  • Ben Martenson had a chance to tee it up for the Trenton varsity golf team this spring and in the fall he will attend Albion College, where he will continue his golf career. Photo by Terry Jacoby
  • Ben Martenson had a chance to tee it up for the Trenton varsity golf team this spring and in the fall he will attend Albion College, where he will continue his golf career. Photo by Terry Jacoby

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Ben Martenson learned one final lesson on the golf course during the last time he teed up the ball for the Trenton varsity golf team.

“I tried to be perfect,” he said. “It was just a bad day.”

He wasn’t perfect and his strive for excellence cost him a spot in the regionals last month during his senior year for the Trojans. But the 18-year-old standout will take all the lessons he learned at Trenton High School on to college where he will tee it up for Albion College next year.

Martenson, the son of John and Jennifer Martenson, has been learning lessons his whole life. And many of these lessons were ones most youngsters never have to learn.

When Ben was 18 months old, he contracted Meningitis and spent 12 days in intensive care at the University of Michigan Hospital. Either through the disease or the drugs they used to save his life, Ben left the hospital deaf.

When he turned 2, he received a cochlear implant.

“A cochlear implant allows me to hear sounds, voices, music and everything else,” he said. “I wear it always. The Cochlear implant has made it possible for me to have a ‘normal’ life. I have learned to tell the difference between a man’s voice and a woman’s voice. Without this device I am completely deaf.”

He admits there have been a few struggles along the way but never excuses.

“I have been mainstreamed in the public school system since the third grade and have been educated in a normal school environment for nine years,” he said. “I have had some help with reading and word comprehension and vocabulary has always been a struggle. I explain it as though most of the time I hear 90 percent of the conversation.

“In a classroom I hear the teacher but not always the students in the room. Math and analytical problems are not an issue but when it is reading and vocabulary questions with comprehension, I struggle a bit.”

Ben has never been afraid of struggles or working hard. In fact, he just works harder to conquer any struggles he encounters along the way.

“I do not think of myself as special, but I do believe I have had to deal with special circumstances,” he said. “I would like the opportunity to better myself with a college education and I deserve a chance.”

Albion College is giving him his chance. Any you can bet he is going to take a big swing at the opportunity.

Martenson has been swinging a golf club

“I first got interested in golf when I was 8 years old when I was signed up to play in a junior golf program by my parents and being surprised with a brand new set of golf clubs,” he said. “I started practicing, swinging the club in my yard, on the range until suddenly I fell in love with the game of golf.”

He said golf became his “hobby.”

“What I enjoy about golf is the competition with other players and I play some of the most beautiful courses in Michigan,” he said. “Golf is a mental sport and the hardest part is if you hit a bad shot you have to move on to the next shot and not get down on yourself. I keep reminding myself that every shot counts so stay in the game.”

Martenson is smooth on the golf course. He carries himself with confidence and poise, taking his time on each shot. He also has a powerful long game.

“I tend to be very accurate hitting off the tee and very accurate with my irons,” he said. “My putting, chipping, and course management definitely need some work.”

While the Trojans fell short of qualifying for the state meet this year, Martenson was proud of what they accomplished on and off the golf course.

“Playing golf for Trenton was a huge honor for me,” said Martenson, who also played basketball and tennis at Trenton HS. “It has open doors for me to play college golf, making new friends and especially playing with very competitive golfers.”

Martenson plays at least five times a week and works with PGA teaching pro Paul Hasse, who is his swing coach. He also gets advice from former PGA player Dave Vaclav.

“The people that have been my biggest influences in golf are definitely my parents, my brother, my grandpa, and especially my phenomenal golf coach Steve Burk,” Martenson said.

Last Updated: 6/17/2014 8:14:03 PM EST