A PGA Jr. League golfer’s journey from Rwanda to Scottsdale

Ben Brogdon
Traci Edwards/PGA of America
Team Arkansas' Ben Brogdon tees off on the par-3 16th hole during his Friday afternoon match at the 2017 PGA Jr. League Championship.
By Dan McDonald
PGA.com

Series: PGA

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017 | 7:22 p.m.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For many golfers at the 2017 PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental, their journey from first picking up a golf club to arriving at Grayhawk Golf Club began a short drive from their home.

For Team Arkansas’ Ben Brogdon, that journey didn’t begin anywhere near his hometown of Little Rock.

Instead, it began when he was 3 years old with a caddie named Afrodis about 8,000 miles away at Rwanda Country Club -- the only golf course in the small African country.

MORE: Full coverage of the 2017 PGA Jr. League Golf Championship | Photos from Grayhawk

“He took me out to watch some other African players that were some of the best out there,” Brogdon said, “And I thought, ‘If I could be that good, then I would love this game.’”

From there, Afrodis began to lay the groundwork for Brogdon’s incredible golf talents and love of the game that earned him a spot in Scottsdale this week.

After moving back to the U.S. when he was 5, it was then his grandfather that helped him build upon that initial interest in golf and develop his skills, especially around the green.

“For a whole year, he had me just working on my short game and I didn’t really hit full swings until I got a little older. That definitely helped me a lot, working on the short game and not focusing on the full swing.”

In 2015, Brogdon and his family returned to Rwanda to see his old home and reunite with Afrodis to play a round where it all began.

“It was really fun. When I got to the course, he didn’t really recognize me and I was taller than he was, so that was pretty funny.

“When I was in the U.S., I couldn’t really picture that stuff (in Rwanda). But once I saw it, I had memories of it. I recognized the golf course clubhouse and it hadn’t really changed all that much.”

His incredible work ethic on the course and dedication to continuing to develop his game has made him a standout player on his team, with goals for using this week at Grayhawk to take his game to the next level.

But before he takes on more junior tournaments and turns an eye toward his goals of a collegiate career, and the road to becoming a professional beyond that, Brogdon doesn’t take for granted the opportunities he has to play here in Arizona and back home in Arkansas.

“I realize how fortunate I am to play at the course I play at in Arkansas. And to see where I started to where I am now is a big difference. Out there (in Rwanda) it wasn’t the nicest of courses, and here (in Scottsdale) it’s such a nice course. I just feel so blessed to have these experiences.”