Benjamin School golfer Ryan Jahn came in fifth at regionals and 19th in the state and has earned a golf scholarship to Jacksonville University.
For those who compete in high school sports, the line between “student” and “athlete” is thin. But the line between “teacher” and “coach” can be thin as well.
Take the cases of 18-year-old Jupiter resident Ryan Jahn, a senior golfer at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens, and the pre-K to 12 school’s 29-year varsity golf coach, Toby Harbeck.
“I’ve been at Benjamin since fourth grade,” Jahn said, “and had coach Harbeck as a middle school grammar and literature teacher. He tried to talk me into joining the team in eighth grade, but I waited.”
The Buccaneers won the 2009 state championship with Jahn as a freshman.
He had a torrid sophomore season; became a junior team co-captain, and pushed Benjamin to a third-place state finish as a senior.
He also pushed his co-captain. Senior Clancy Waugh finished second at states individually, and was named The Palm Beach Post’s Boys Golfer of the Year. Jahn joined him on the Fall 2012 High School All-Area Team, and Bucs sophomore Jalen Ledger made the second team.
“Myself and Clancy shared MVP honors the past two years,” Jahn said, and went back and forth the team’s number one. It was a healthy, friendly competition.”
Harbeck, who’s also athletic director at the school’s lower and middle campus in North Palm Beach, guided Waugh to a scholarship to Wake Forest and Jahn to a scholarship to Jacksonville University. A third senior, Jake Williams, received one to attend Ohio University.
“My scholarship is part-athletic; part-academic,” said Jahn.
"Jacksonville coach Mike Blackburn has really turned around and built the program over the past five years. He drew me there.”
Jahn moved to Florida from his native Michigan at age 10 because of job opportunities for his father Ed, a building contractor. But he received more golf skills from mother Shelley, who manages the family’s recently-opened Sundaes Frozen Yogurt shop in Jupiter. She’d won a high school state golfing championship in Michigan.
Her skills were passed down from her father. Jahn’s grandfather and mentor, Palm Beach Gardens resident Jim Lantz, inspired his grandson to pick up a club at age 3 and start competing at age 6.
“He started me out with little plastic clubs, and then started taking me out to the range,” Jahn said. “He continues to inspire me to do my best every day.”
He also credits Harbeck and swing coach Martin Hall, of Ibis Golf and Country Club in West Palm Beach. Jahn is paying their influence forward through his younger sister Reagan, a 15-year-old sophomore on the Benjamin varsity golf and lacrosse teams.
Jahn played basketball as a second sport as a freshman before concentrating on golf, and says he’ll study accounting and finance at Jacksonville as he pursues a golfing career. Preferably one following in the footsteps of his favorite player.
“My ultimate goal is to be like Phil Mickelson,” Jahn said of the PGA champion and fellow left-hander. “But a finance or business degree can certainly turn into a career in the golf industry if playing doesn’t work out.”