Big Break Ireland Competitor
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Current Residence: Orlando, Fla.
College: LaGrange College / SUNY at the University of Buffalo
Home Course: Lake Nona Golf & Country Club
Profession: Golf Professional, Model, Actor
Big Break Ireland is not the first time Bennett Maki has appeared on Golf Channel. A model and actor, Maki has appeared in numerous commercials that have aired on the cable network the past few years, which has served as a supplemental source of income to achieving his lifelong dream of playing on the PGA TOUR.
Golf was not Maki’s first sport of choice. Growing up in Atlanta, he attended Riverside Military Academy, where he excelled in a number of sports – baseball, wrestling, track and swimming – and was a state champion swimmer. While in military school, he had to make a choice between golf and baseball, as both are played during the same season. He chose golf, and has never looked back.
“Attending a military school, I was able to focus solely on my academics and athletics,” he explained. “My involvement in sports, especially golf, helped me cope with the ins and outs of daily life.”
Following high school graduation, he had a roller-coaster collegiate career. He played golf at Darton Junior College for two years. Prior to his junior year, he transferred to LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia, close to his home in Atlanta.
Maki played for LaGrange for one year. The college did not give out athletic scholarships, and Maki soon realized that it was going to be too expensive for him to continue. He moved back to Atlanta, got a job caddying a local golf course and enrolled at Perimeter College. The following year, he had planned to enroll to Valdosta State University, only to find out that he would have to sit out a year due to NCAA eligibility rules.
“That came to me as a surprise,” said Maki. “I had my life on track in the direction in which I was pursuing and wasn’t expecting this change of plan. Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law came to my rescue.”
His sister was finishing her Emergency Medicine residency at ECMC Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y. They presented him with an offer he couldn’t refuse: enroll at Buffalo to earn his degree then move with them to Orlando after she completed her residency, where she would buy him a membership at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, one of the top private courses in the country.
He accepted the offer and moved to Buffalo. He doubled-up on his course load to finish his college credits around the same time his sister finished her residency. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and credits his sister and brother-in-law for providing a road map for his future.
“I had to really buckle down as I knew I was running out of options,” said Maki. “That one year in Buffalo taught me that if I really apply myself, I can do anything in life.”
He moved to Orlando in early 2009, and was given a membership to Lake Nona. He applied all that he had learned at Riverside Military Academy and his collegiate experiences to set short-term and long-term goals for his professional career, with the ultimate goal of being a full-time professional on the PGA TOUR.
Learning quickly that playing professional golf can be a struggle financially, Maki turned to modeling and acting to supplement his income. He has done numerous commercials the past couple of years for such clients as Muscle Milk, Mizuno Golf, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Atlantis Resorts, Wyndham Resorts and New Era Caps, where was a stunt double for Evan Longoria.
His favorite shoot was the New Era commercial. “I had to perform a risky jump out of a helicopter eighty feet into the Tampa Bay,” he explained. “It was a great experience.”
He is quick to point out that he does not see himself transitioning to be a full-time actor.
“Acting has been a big part of my life. Learning from different, talented people and having the opportunity to experience the creative part of me has been very fulfilling,” said Maki.
Unlike a lot of his playing competitors on Big Break Ireland, Maki is just starting his professional career. He is continuing his path of setting short-term and long-term goals, with the hopes that his results on the mini tours will catapult him to the larger professional circuits, and, eventually, the PGA TOUR.
Big Break Ireland could very well be the springboard he needs to achieve his goals.
Watch Bennett's Video Bio.