On the Green at Age 18: BHS Junior Goes Pro

William Hinson, 18-year-old Blythewood High School junior and now long-drive pro, works out on the range.

‘Drive for Show, Putt for Dough,’ or so the old adage goes among seasoned duffers who make their bacon on the fairways. Sure, they’ll tell you, getting on the green is one thing, but dropping the ball into the cup is what brings home the hardware.

O, how times have changed.

Today, there is an entire professional circuit devoted entirely to the drive – the long drive. For show and for dough. And William Hinson, a Blythewood High School junior, has just inked a professional sponsorship to go long.

Tuesday morning, Hinson signed a one-year deal with Callaway golf products to join their 10-man XHot professional long drive team, and his parents, Edward and Jennifer Hinson, are thrilled. And a little nervous.

“It’s a lot to take in in such a short period of time,” Edward said. “Just a year ago, William was getting his first set of long drive clubs and saying ‘This will be fun’.”

William, who just turned 18, teed up for his first professional event last June. Then but 17, he finished in eighth place, with a top drive of 370 yards. In a field crowded with world title holders, William missed qualifying for the world championship by a single yard.

In his first six months as a professional, William has had three top-eight finishes, nailing his first championship at the Chance Charity Long Drive Championship in Marietta, Ga., last September with a final drive of 390 yards. In the World Championship meet in Vero Beach, Fla., William rattled off eight drives for over 400 yards through six rounds of competition before finally being eliminated. His longest drive as a pro is 406 yards, but he has belted it as far as 412 in last year’s Class 4A state high school championships as a sophomore on the Bengals’ golf team.

William Hinson (center) with BHS Principal Keith Price, mother Jennifer, dad Edward and BHS Athletic Director Vince Lowry after William signed on the dotted line with Callaway Golf.

“It’s a God-given talent,” Edward said of his middle son. “He was born with it. I certainly don’t hit it like that.”

William’s older brother, Josh, 21, also hit pretty well for the Bengals, bringing home a state title during his tenure. Josh was captain of the USC-Lancaster golf team and is now looking to walk on at the main campus in Columbia. The youngest of the Hinson boys, Jack, is in fifth grade at Bethel-Hanberry, and dad said the golf bug hasn’t bitten him hard, yet. Still, both mom and dad enjoy hitting the links with all three of their boys.

William has been playing since he was 9-years old, dad said, and while he would like to continue his high school career, his new-found professional status may curtail that somewhat. While under contract with Callaway, William is currently ineligible to compete at the high school level. But, Edward pointed out, if the pro circuit doesn’t work out, William can always return to the Bengals lineup.

Right now, the focus is on the pro links. William is currently ranked 80th in the world in the long drive competition and has already traveled extensively. His suitcase carries stamps from Las Vegas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and more, and his 2013 schedule will take him to California, Kansas and possibly abroad to Spain and the Far East. With all that travel, school is a challenge, his parents said, but it is something they are willing to work out.

For now, William is swinging a hot club, and ‘on the green at age 18.’

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