The Story of abk golf

5/15/17- decided I was going to own my life story and launched anything but khakis, initially as a fashion blog.

12/30/18- launched abk golf as a branch of anything but khakis, initially to share golf course photos.

2/11/19- sold house in Charlotte, NC.

2/26/19- played Torrey Pines North and South courses in La Jolla, CA. Shot 94 and 96, respectively. Blown away by sunrise and sunset. Played the South course with the current QB at SDSU.

3/7/19- played East Lake in Atlanta, GA with my friend Justin. Shot 99. Hit my tee shot on 9 into the employee parking lot. Birdied 14.

3/17/19- played Pinehurst #2 in NC. Shot 109. Made an 11 on the first hole and my hands never stopped shaking. One putted 18 Payne Stewart style.

3/22/19- final day of employment at the bank in Charlotte, NC.

3/22/19- played East Lake again with my friend Ben. Shot 103. Hit the green on 9 this time…and five putted. Formal exhaustion set in.

3/22/19- arrived in Mississippi that night with an unofficial 14 handicap and went on the disabled list within the next 2 weeks. I was fried.

—Rest and rehab—

4/17/19- decided I was going to give it a go. How good could I get at golf, a sport that I hadn’t grown up with but had fallen in love with in adulthood? Official Day 1. Shot an 85.

4/19/19- joined Shell Landing Golf Club in Gautier, MS, but alternated play between Timberton Golf Club in Hattiesburg, MS and there for weeks. Major posture and swing change.

—practiced and/or played 87 of the first 120 days totaling 240+ hours and another 75+ hours of strengthening and stretching—

5/1/19- 13.2 handicap

5/15/19- 13.1 handicap

6/1/19- 12.5 handicap

6/15/19- 11.9 handicap

6/16/19- son got me matte blue Maxfli golf balls for Father’s Day. They have become my thing (and are quite the conversation starter).

6/21/19- shot 79 in Iowa with my friend Jay.

6/22/19- tested the game at the very narrow Dakota Dunes in South Dakota with my friend Jay. Shot 89.

6/27/19- major grip change. Hit balls sideways for a few days.

7/1/19- 11.2 handicap

7/2+7/3/19- shot 37/40 for combined 77 over 2 days

7/8/19- tested the game at World Woods Pine Barrens in Florida with my brother in law Jonathan. Shot 84.

7/10/19- started working from back tees (7024 yards) so I could practice every club in my bag on the course.

7/15/19- 9.3 handicap. Single digits. Goal 1 ✅.

7/24/19- decided to pack up the Jordan 11s and wear them only for special golfing occasions.

—some time in July, I stopped walking and started riding a cart due to right foot and hip pain—

8/1/19- 8.9 handicap

8/8/19- (highly) tested the game at the beastly Grand Bear Golf Course from the Grizzly Bear tees (75.5/143). Shot 92.

8/12/19- shot 79 back at the ranch

8/15/19- handicap currently 8.1. Hip getting better. Foot still hurts.

8/18/19- trending 7.7

When I started “my new life”, I was going to be a fashion blogger and golf course photographer. Turns out, I wasn’t that interested in or good at being either of them. I likely embarrassed myself multiple times. However, out of taking that first big leap, it eventually got me to writing and golfing, which both set my heart on fire.

That first step was quite frightening, but look where it has taken me. To a new life. I’ve done it. I’m doing it.

People may laugh, people may judge, people may gossip, and people may wonder. I just smile, put my head down, and get back to work. To be continued…

Have a great week.- Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website .

Now That’s Art

When I broke the news months ago about the move to Mississippi, most people had a similar joking, yet serious, response. “What are you going to wear down there, dude?”

Honestly, I was a little concerned. I doubted that the locals would be able to handle my fancy style, but then again, where in the hell would I ever HAVE to be fancy again?

(Nowhere is the answer. Down here, absolutely nowhere.)

But I HAD to be able to express myself via my clothing, or this just wouldn’t work. It’s a massive part of how I communicate with the world, and since I didn’t know anyone down here, I needed to start some conversations.

On the one side, there are certain parts of the day that dressing requires no thought. Chilling. Grinding. Happy Hour under the big oak trees. It’s hot AF. Don’t go nuts. Just wear whatever.

On the other side, there have been a couple of surprises where I have really been able to let my freak flag fly, and that makes me very happy.

First, at the golf course, it’s a daily laugh. Maybe it’s the blue balls that I use. Or maybe it’s the long, fitted (non-khaki) pants in 100 degree heat. The Jordan XIs. The jewelry. They usually start a “What do you do?” conversation, and then we are off to the races from there.

Next comes the boating gear. Oh, hell yeah. This is a category I never experienced before but where I’ve learned that anything goes. I’ve pulled out all sorts of stuff. Bright fishing shirts, bandannas, colorful sunglasses, hats, and so on. For me personally, this takes self-expression to a whole new level.

Lastly, and the biggest surprise of all, there is a town about 15 minutes away called Ocean Springs. It is artsy, with an artsy vibe, and artsy people. It even has a bona fide art museum, which I am yet to visit, but it is on the list. Who freaking knew? I wore one of my paint-splattered hats to dinner there the other night, and I could see the locals eyeing it down. It’s fun giving people something different to look at and talk about.

Mississippi was never going to be New York City. No doubt. But I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to express myself down here. My clothing, my tattoos, my hair, and so on are such a part of who I am, I needed this. I really did.

It’s also been one hell of a place to write. The words just flow underneath the sun and along the water.

Next week, my sister and her crew are coming to visit, and we all hope to spend some time at Horn Island. Horn Island, for simplicity’s sake, is a beautiful, uninhabited island some 5-10 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Years ago, the artist Walter Anderson, for whom that art museum in Ocean Springs is named, stayed out there for days on end to do his painting and writing, ensuring his work would be untarnished by the real world. I am smitten.

Are you thinking what I am thinking? You’re damn right. That’s next on my list. Grab a cooler, some quirky clothes, a few hats, and head out to the island. And just write. Get lost, let the words flow, and not worry if a single soul ever reads them.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Taking (Much) Less

“The Truth is always the truth.”-Somebody (my favorite quote)

What is your obsession with unlearning behaviors and beliefs? Was your life bad or something?

My life was not bad, but until I started unlearning, it wasn’t TRULY mine. The amount of outside influence on our souls is staggering if we aren’t paying attention. Do you know how freeing unlearning is? But do you know hard it is? In my experience, it is unequivocally, indisputably, undeniably, flat out harder to unlearn a behavior or belief than it is to learn a new one. Oh, and also, I am now fully paying attention.

Go on.

Think of the last time you had to say something just because it was politically correct, but it wasn’t you. Think about the last time you put a post up just to get more “likes”. Think about the last time you sold your soul for a dollar. Think about the last time you bought something because the marketers said you needed it. Think about the last time you did something that makes absolutely no sense in 2019 because your 3rd grade pastor’s voice is still in your head. Think about the last time you said, “Well, Mama always said…”. Do you agree with what she said, or just because she said it, it must be gold?

I could go on for days, so be careful when you say “Go on.”

So what’s your point?

I wanted to put myself in a position so that I could eliminate or, at least, minimize any need for me ever to be inauthentic again. To never have to think or act in a manner that is contradictory to what I actually believe.

To accomplish this, it was important for ME to get away from it all. I needed to fully rewire and refocus, and I was willing to sacrifice a ton (paycheck included) to align every single move and thought with who I really was. I had to OWN IT.

The premise of inauthenticity holds people captive every single day. And instead of unlearning, we are told to learn and consume more. How To this and How To that. I’ve gone the other way (surprise, surprise). Focus on clearing out the bullshit first. Life changing, obviously.

You said that was hard?

For my regular abk friends, you know it took 671 days. For my abk golf folks, today is day 110, and I am still fighting like hell to rid myself of bad habits.

Of those 671 days, 85%+ of that time was spent unlearning. I wasn’t out there reading Aristotle and Socrates to learn more and sound fancy. I was asking myself “why” in every single life category that already existed.

Once I decided that nonjudgmental, open-mindedness was going to be my North Star, the vast majority of my evolution became very simple. Unlearn everything that didn’t fit in that category. So simple. So, so incredibly difficult.

I used to be a big consumer. I definitely took more from the world than I gave back. Now, I’m in the process of flipping that. Other than massive quantities of BBQ, I consume very little now.

I watch very little TV. I don’t consume the news. I basically browse Instagram, listen to or watch comedy, and watch sports. I’ve traded in everything else for sunlight, water, grass, animals, and trees. I love seeing my alligator buddy on the 10th tee every day.

It keeps my mind clean and clear to produce the writing and the encouragement and the wry laughter that I want to give to the world.

How do you know what’s going on in the world then?

In three minutes max, I can gauge the pulse. I don’t need the details. The body and mind weren’t built for all these details. It just brings people down. Worries them. Scares them.

I’ve learned so much more by consuming so much less. I’ve learned that my refusal to compromise or conform comes from a good place and not a bad place. It has allowed the bad habits to slowly die. By DOING more and not consuming more, I’m quieter. I talk less. I like the silence. It aligns perfectly with what I am trying to do. Inward happiness, peace, and calm. I imagine that must be very difficult to find when consuming all the noise.

Are you worried unlearning all these behaviors will offend the folks who taught them to you?

I actually NOW think they would be proud. Parents and teachers are supposed to equip us with the skills to navigate life, not tell us what to do or how to live our lives. My dad, in particular, is a genius at this. All of these good peoples’ imprints are all over me, and I’m very thankful. I’m just going to make my own decisions.

Any last words?

Successful doesn’t necessarily mean happy, and rich doesn’t necessarily mean free. Free means free, and it takes lots of work.

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

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Me, NYC, and Volume 3?

“I told myself before the start that this was either going to be the dumbest thing I’d ever done or one of the greatest. And it was.”-abk

Well. THIS👆🏽 is where we left off last November. I had just finished the New York City Marathon Volume 2, exclaiming both how incredibly wonderful and ridiculously stupid it was that I had done it again.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday, and there, sitting in my inbox, was this year’s invitation from Team Arthritis Foundation ready for Volume 3. Run again. Raise some money. Let’s go!

Nope. Not this year. I can’t. And it kills me to have to say that. For one, I loved it. Volumes 1 and 2 were both mind-blowing and life-changing. But more importantly, to have to say “I can’t” to anything, which is a phrase not allowed in this household’s vocabulary. Because as you should know by now, I believe anything is possible (no matter how far-fetched), and I’m on a journey to live it.

But not this year. Not with my foot and my shin and my hip. I’m not going to register. I’m not going to convince myself. I’m not going to think twice about it. Because as much joy, fulfillment, and perspective as the two experiences gave me, both races beat the absolute shit out of my body.

Pounding my joints on the pavement over and over is literally one of the worst things in the world for an arthritis patient. So when I told Team Arthritis Foundation two years ago that I wasn’t running in honor of anyone and that I was the one who was actually afflicted, they almost passed out. What? Good God, man. Isn’t it painful?

Yes. Yes it is.

“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates.”-Forrest Gump

“I don’t care what mama said. What did mama do?”-abk

On the Saturday before the first marathon, I vividly remember sitting in the NYC hotel room, watching Penn State vs Michigan State football, talking on the phone with my sister. Christy and Banks were out visiting friends in the city, and I had my feet up nervously awaiting Round 1. My sister asked me, “Why are you doing this?”, and I had no answer that day. Well…I do now.

I observe a lot of idle dialogue, and for whatever reason, it is a massive pet peeve of mine. Lots of “you can do anything you put your mind to” rah rah and not as much actually doing it. I got to thinking, “I rarely pay attention to a talker talking, but I always pay attention to a doer doing. Maybe I should DO more myself. Maybe that might help someone.”

Case in point: I hardly ever listened to a word my mother told me (she knows this), but I undeniably admired and still admire the fact that at age 69, she LIVES her passion (piano) daily. She doesn’t talk about it. She just does it. And that has been a silent, guiding influence for my entire life.

My son got the “doesn’t listen” gene also, and I just giggle, because of course it came from me. But he watches every move I make and every single thing I do. So instead of telling him he can be whatever he wants, I’m just going to show him by how I live. He’s smart. He’ll get it.

“I’m a citizen of the world.”-Benj, 2017

“You can’t write that. It’s not true.”-Christy, 10 seconds later

I wrote this sentence in the initial “About Benj” section on the website, and Christy, rightfully so, put me in my place. Her comment stuck with me because it turns out I was writing what I WANTED to be, not what I was. And to get where I wanted to be, I had to get to work. Action. So I haven’t stopped for a day since then.

Two of those days, Race Day, I felt like a true citizen of the world, mixing and mingling with anyone and everyone. I’ll miss that this year. I really will.

But I’ve got bigger fish to fry. My continued quest to play extremely high level golf. 10 more states to explore to hit all 50. Refocus on the international exploits. Become a true citizen of the world. And if I have any chance to do and enjoy all of this, I need a healthy hip.

So will you tell your son that you COULDN’T do it this year?

Ha! No chance. He wouldn’t listen anyways. I’ll just go do something else. He’s smart. He’ll get it.

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website .

The Week I Found My Voice

“You shouldn’t read the comments (or maybe you should).”-Benj

I’ve had a handful of life-changing moments over the past few years. Some I’ve shared with you. Some are very personal. But one, there is one, that really gave me my voice. That completely changed my life. That, combined with these other moments, caused me truly not to care anymore.

Not care? Before we go nuts here, let me be the first to tell you that I likely care more about everyone’s overall health and happiness than most. What I do NOT care about are these things that have no effect on anything. They may be minor. They may even be major. You’ve heard me refer to them as riff raff and noise. Gossip? Negativity? (I will literally get up and walk out of a room.) These things that we have absolutely no control over and that just don’t matter. Not just to me. To anyone or anything.

…like hundreds of complete strangers’ comments.

On July 13, 2017, I wrote an article (of which I am very proud) for an online publication in Charlotte, NC called Charlotte Agenda. It was about the importance of self-expression and individuality, illustrated by my observation that everyone in downtown Charlotte dressed exactly alike.

30,000 people read my article that week which, shall I say, is a few more than usually read my stuff. Everything was going fine until a couple of hours after it was published, I started getting texts and phone calls, “Dude, these comments are wild!”

Comments? What comments? Who in the f**k would take time to comment about such an important and serious and controversial topic as khaki pants and blue shirts? I must have hit a nerve. Comments? Seriously? Are you kidding me?

Turns out, hundreds of them, and since I was not used to this, I started reading them, and, embarrassingly, I got rattled. They questioned my name, “Benj, really?”. They questioned my sexuality. They questioned my level of style knowledge, and some even claimed that my perfectly tailored pants were too tight 🤷🏽‍♂️. (Alright, I’m giggling now.)

It leaked into Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn, and so I finally just turned my phone off. For the rest of the week. I was visibly shaken, which didn’t and doesn’t happen to me very often.

It got me thinking. “What were people thinking about me? Were they serious? Were they offended? Was something going to happen to me? Was I going to get fired?” On and on.

Once it blew over later that week and literally NO ONE cared any more (did they ever?), I allowed myself to regroup and think about what all of this meant.

1. I prided myself on having thick skin. This proved I had a long way to go.

2. I prided myself on not caring what other people thought. This proved I had a long way to go.

3. Shame on me for letting other people’s opinions affect me in any way. This will never happen again.

“I only try and please myself.”-Ricky Gervais

Authenticity. Vision. Lack of compromise, regardless of external response. It’s been a game changer. In the short-term, I am well aware that I have missed out on followers, likes, money, and whatever so that I can be 100% me. I was absolutely dying at 40% me. I was better, but still treading water at 70% me. I am not quite 100% yet, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been, and thus more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.

I honestly believe that each person was put on this earth to be a unique individual, and then the people in our lives (love partners, friends, business partners, etc.) are just that. PARTNERS. Additive.

As individuals, we have these weird talents, ideas, and quirks that are to be used and displayed. But we often don’t use them. Because we are scared they make us look silly to “the commenters”.

We may think being the real us is silly, but AUTHENTICITY actually attracts. When I started doing ME as close to 100% as possible, I became a better person, all-around partner, father and miraculously, I now have miles more actual human friends and I have helped more actual people than I ever have.

All by being “selfish”.

All because of this little article I wrote.

All because some people who I’ve never met and likely never will got a little feisty.

About khakis.

Strange world, ain’t it?

Have a great week.- Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website .

abk: 2082

“You never know what life is like until you have lived it.”-Marilyn Monroe

Imagine you are 93 years old (like my son’s great grandmother that we all visited this week). Or imagine you are 87 (like my son’s great grandfather that we all see a couple of times per month). Or imagine you are 100 or 110 or whatever.

Did you do everything that you wanted with your life? Were your priorities in order according to you, or did you conform? Did you listen to others too much? Were you focused? Were you happy? Did you have regrets?

Now imagine you are 70. Same questions. Maybe you have 30 years left to live. Maybe you have two weeks.

Now imagine you are 37 like me. Same questions. Different context. Instead of “were”, let’s try “are”. Maybe the answers are a resounding “yes”. Maybe the answer is “soon” or “will be”. Maybe you liked my 671 day plan and are a work in progress.

If you passed away tomorrow, would you be pleased with how you spent your last seven days?

“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is…try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader…you can change it, you can influence it…” -Steve Jobs

What if you could truly design your own lifestyle like the late Mr. Jobs designed his products? What if you could take the two or four or six things in this world that really light your heart on fire and truly design a life around them? Where every waking second, or close enough, you were doing something that was meaningful or that you enjoyed? What if everything else (I call it noise) could simply be ignored? Why isn’t that idea introduced in high school or college? What if I told you that simply DOING those things you are passionate about and SHOWING them to the world is broadening, influencing, and making the world a better place?

If you could do anything you wanted, what would that be? Would you be willing to sacrifice some of the things that the world tells you to care about, but that honestly don’t interest you or interest you anymore? Could you rid yourself of meaningless stuff? Would you be willing to go from living in 3,000 square feet to surviving in 800 square feet? Could you deal with the fact that your life “looks different”? What if you had to walk into a family reunion and tell everyone that you were unemployed while you did the work? What if people didn’t even consider what you were doing “work”?

Could you do it? Would you do it? So that you could do exactly what YOU wanted every single day.

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

What if pursuing your dreams, goals, and the process takes your whole life? What if it BECOMES your entire life? What if you never make a dime on it? Is that a failure? Is it a success? Is it noble or foolish, or does it really matter? Is money the compass? Does IT force you to do things you don’t want? What if you could live your dreams, but you had to reprogram yourself? When should you start? Is it even possible?

When I completed my collegiate soccer career, I did not feel like I was done. I felt like I was good enough. I felt like there was more.

I got a tryout with the Columbus Crew of the MLS over a snowy weekend in Cleveland, Ohio, with about 75 other players. DI kids, minor league professionals, and me. All dreamers.

There were four cuts that weekend, and I made it to the final one. But there, the truth became evident. My body couldn’t handle the rigors, and I just wasn’t good enough.

But I did it. I tried. Because I couldn’t have looked myself in the mirror if I hadn’t, and so I did. And I “failed”. And I was proud, and I still am.

“Just Do It.”-Nike

Have a great week. -Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website .

The Golfing Chronicles: ⚡️⚡️

“dream big.”-abk


I wake up between 6:30 and 7am every day now, and it is already about 2,000 degrees outside. As I go outside to walk the dogs, it is not uncommon for one of my six golf shirts to stick to my body.


Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30am, I make the ten minute drive to the golf course to begin my day’s work. I am well aware that my day’s work looks very different from most people’s day, but that does not make it any better or worse. It just makes it mine.


Between 6:30 and 8:30am every day, I am a 37 year old in a 90 year old man’s body, battling my old friend ankylosis spondylitis every. single. day. Because of this, the same heat that keeps most people inside takes me outside. But damn it, soothing or not, it’s still hot.

After a few weeks of trying and tweaking and observing some semblance of a routine (God forbid), I’ve turned my first big corner. And it has me both excited and nervous, which is perfect.


Most every day, I post a picture or video on Instagram of me golfing, and the amount of unsolicited feedback via DM, text, or otherwise has been quite useful. Words of encouragement, playful jokes, or very valuable tips from people who are actual golfers. It has turned a very solitary activity into something quite different knowing that multiple people care, proving once again that it takes a village to do anything.


At this point, I am fully immersed in my golf goal. I feel my body changing. I feel my mind changing. I feel my spirit changing. This past week, I literally whispered to myself, “I think I can do this.”

It has been a slow, methodical grind, and it has only been 90+ days. I can only imagine what the next few months are going to look like. More heat. More aches. More aggravation courtesy of this beautiful game.


Most days when I am in town, I now do a couple of hours on the range and then walk 9 holes. Walking 18 holes every day made my feet feel like I was walking on hot lava at night, so that was enough of that. Interestingly, the practice and repetition on the range provide the real value, although seeing my scores get lower and lower and lower is indeed very rewarding.


I shot 79 the other night in Iowa over 18 holes and then shot a crisp 37 over 9 just a few days later back in Mississippi. Those are still outliers, but every single facet of my game is getting better, tighter, and crisper, and the scores are getting consistently lower.


Most days, I have an internal conflict that combats increasing confidence with a “don’t get ahead of myself” mentality. Because the game, just like life, has a way of jumping up and biting me the moment I think I have it figured out. But on the other hand, if I don’t have the confidence, I am dead.

When I started this journey in April, I just wanted to get better. “Get really good” is what I told most people. Some of them laughed. I was not joking.  Now, in July, I have an attainable goal of having a single digit handicap by the end of the month (getting much, much better). I’ve found myself getting really serious. As I approach each shot, I find my heartbeat slowing, my focus sharpening, and my breath steadying. That’s a lot different from me walking up to my ball and wondering what’s for dinner that night.

I am the one who has done the work, but I am so appreciative of everyone that has taken an interest in this portion of the journey. The person who suggested a swing change. The person who suggested a grip change. The pros at the club who are willing to help in any way possible.

I don’t know that many people have heard something quite like my story, where a 37 year old just quits “work” to “play” golf every day. Except work is exactly what I do, not ordering beers until after I am done, when I am ready to pour a cold 12 pack over my head.


I started as an unofficial 14-ish handicap, went to 13.2, then 12.5, now 11.2, and trending towards a 9.7. Even now, the probability of getting to a 0 in my situation is less likely than getting struck by lightning TWICE, I’ve heard. But last week I thought to myself, “You know what, I bet a 37 year old dude with active ankylosing spondylitis running two New York City Marathons was also highly improbable.”


And that’s when I told myself for likely not the last time, “Keep your focus son. There’s a lot of noise out there.  Own your life story.”

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website .