Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

Singer Ben Rector brings his clubs on tour—and it shows

January 31, 2020

Eric Ryan Anderson

If you envy professional musicians and the independence their careers afford them, you might want to stop reading here.

Ben Rector is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who appeared at No. 49 on our ranking of the best musician golfers back in 2014. His handicap was 13. Since then he has whittled it down to as low as 4.

Rector’s secret? About three years ago he got home from a tour and, as often happens, found himself buzzing with energy. “I was bouncing off the walls,” he says. His wife, Hillary, suggested he find a hobby, so he joined the Golf Club of Tennessee, a Tom Fazio-designed course just outside Nashville.

Once just an occasional golfer, Rector was suddenly into it. “Before, I was playing with my father-in-law’s clubs and would go months at a time without golf,” recalls Rector, 33. Now he’s a once-a-week player when he’s at home with Hillary and their daughter, Jane, and “I take my clubs on tour with me and usually play a whole bunch on the road.”

Scroll through Ben Rector’s Instagram account (@ben_ rector), and you’ll see photos and videos from a few of the courses he played while touring the United States last year: Pinehurst, Shadow Creek, Chambers Bay, Bandon Dunes.

He gets a lot of invitations to private clubs, too, including Augusta National, which he has played twice. Touring the West Coast in 2019, one epic four-day stretch brought him to Los Angeles Country Club, Cypress Point and San Francisco Golf Club before ending up at Bandon. “It truly was insane,” he says.

“I’m so lucky to have I stumbled into golf.”

Raised in Tulsa, where he played high school football and baseball and ran cross-country, Rector began to get serious about a music career while attending the University of Arkansas. He has since released nine albums of keyboard-infused pop. The two most recent studio albums, “Brand New” and “Magic,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Folk chart and No. 2 on the Indie chart.

“I just feel super lucky to have an interesting job that is engaging and that I like,” he says. “And I’m so lucky to have stumbled into golf—to have a hobby that ends up dovetailing into my job the way it does.”

Anybody in music he hasn’t played with but wants to? That’s easy. “Huey Lewis,” Rector says. “I freaking love that guy.”