Lee-Bentham looks to use golf to help others
She may be just in her first season on the LPGA Tour, but Canadian Rebecca Lee-Bentham has big aspirations for her golf career that span far beyond the golf course.
For her 20th birthday present, Lee-Bentham asked for donations to the program MyCharityWater, which provides clean water to people in third-world countries who otherwise would not have access to uncontaminated drinking water. More than $500 was raised for Lee-Bentham’s birthday wish, and that is just the start of her philanthropic goals.
“In the future I definitely plan to get involved in more charities,” said Lee-Bentham, who played one year at the University of Texas before turning pro. “I want to take what I have and help those in developing countries who are struggling to survive. I’m also passionate about helping people who face depression and hope to be involved in organizations associated in helping people live happier lives.”
Lee-Bentham is happy in her own life, which centers around competing against the best women’s professional golfers in the world on a weekly basis. She has made three of seven cuts so far in her rookie campaign, banking $13,837 in the process, and feels at home on Tour.
“I knew I wanted to turn pro ever since I first started and pretty much prepared myself to be here,” said Lee-Bentham, who began playing golf at the age of 12. “Most of it is what I expected – ‘no pain, no gain.’ The good part is that most of the players on Tour get along, and it’s easy to make friends and have fun.”
What isn’t easy is handling the rigors of squaring off against the world’s best week-in and week-out, but Lee-Bentham is prepared for the task.
“The reality of playing on the LPGA Tour is that it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be out here,” she said. “It takes a lot of hours practicing, traveling and being away from friends and family.”
Like many young players, Lee-Bentham said the mental aspect of the game is proving the most daunting to master.
“My mental game needs the most work,” said Lee-Bentham, who qualified for the Tour by finishing tied for ninth at q-school. “Having confidence to play against the best players in the world isn't easy, and it's something that I definitely need to improve.”
Lee-Bentham’s family has been rooted in Toronto for some time. Her Korean-born parents emigrated to Canada in their teens and raised her and her sister, Sarah, and brother, Paul, there.
In addition to golf, Lee-Bentham has been extremely active in other athletic and artistic pursuits. You name it, she can do it.
“I ski in the winter, sail and canoe in the summer,” she said. “Drawing is my hidden talent. When I was younger, I was really creative and wanted to become an artist when I grew up. I also wanted to become a singer, but don’t think I can say that I’m ‘talented.’
I also used to play the piano and violin when I was younger.
“I like watching korean dramas (I’m trying to improve my Korean language skills).”
Lee-Bentham’s golf skills developed through her teen years. In addition to helping Texas win a Big 12 championship, Lee-Bentham won the 2010 Canadian Junior Girls Championship and 2011 Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship.
She is part of a group of young Canadians looking to make an impact in the golf world and help raise the stature of the sport once again after players like Dawn Coe-Jones, Gail Graham and Lorie Kane helped put Canucks on the map.
“I think the current state of Canadian women’s golf is definitely moving in the right direction and is going to continue to get stronger,” Lee-Bentham said. “Over the past several years, Golf Canada has been very dedicated to developing its players and has been doing a great job doing so. If you look at the current Amateur rankings, it shows how much potential Canadian golf has for the future.”
As far as her own potential for the future, Lee-Bentham is targeting success both on and off the course.
“As a player, my goal is to win tournaments and make it to the top of the rankings,” she said. “I also want to represent Canada in the (2016) Olympics. As a person, my goal is to use golf as a way to help and serve as many people as I can.”
So far, she’s off to a strong start in both regards.