Traveling Coast to Coast in 2023, Ben Bridgers, PGA, Shares His Best Golf Trip Tips
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
(Photo courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge)
Ben Bridgers is the PGA of America General Manager at Pinehurst Resort. With nine championship courses, The Cradle short course and Thistle Dhu, an 18-hole putting course, Pinehurst private club members have one of the world’s greatest destination facilities at their fingertips.
However, travel remains as important for Pinehurst members as it is to golfers worldwide who list Pinehurst as one of their bucket list destinations.
Bridgers says trips among his Pinehurst members have been very diverse since he started traveling in 2014, a year after he came on board. They will usually include 22 members and two PGA Professionals to easily separate into two groups of 12 individuals when needed for travel, dinner, etc.
Though Bridgers attends many of the golf excursions with members, several other PGA Professionals on his staff also get to experience traveling with their members, fostering new relationships and reinforcing existing ones.
“We take three to four trips each year, and have been to Casa De Campo (Dominican Republic), Streamsong (Bowling Green, Florida) and Sea Island in Georgia,” Bridgers explained. “Kiawah, Sand Valley and Erin Hills are also destinations we’ve visited with members in the past.” He says the trips fill up soon after they are announced, with many repeat travelers, and others venturing out for the first time.
Bridgers took trips to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri in 2023, and to Bandon Dunes in Oregon for the summer solstice, when they’ll play 72 holes of golf on four courses in a single day.
They travel to Pebble Beach every other year, and host a group from Pebble Beach on alternate years in what they call the East-West Cup - three rounds in four days for 40 Pinehurst and Pebble Beach golfers.
Other than Bandon Dunes, an annual getaway, Bridgers and his team change it up from year to year, so members can experience some different venues and gain unique experiences that they’ll never forget. Bridgers says there is a core group of his members who enjoy frequent travel with their PGA Professionals, but the opportunity to participate is afforded to all members as plans are being made.
“We’re always considering additional trips to get even more people involved,” Bridgers says. “After all, word of mouth spreads when we return from each trip, and members who didn’t go this time really want to experience the fun next time.”
With travel, local sightseeing and on-course competition and games, member travel is an experience that builds connections that professionals take back to the club with them. It’s time spent together that is hard to replicate at your home facility. It gives members an opportunity to open up with their pros, when they might not do so back home, and it gives the PGA Professional a chance to be seen in a more natural light, rather than in his office or behind the golf shop counter.
Traveling with members doesn’t have to break the bank or take members or the pros away from home for weeks on end. Most of Bridgers’ travel is domestic, though some of it does take them across the country. Perhaps something more local is what your club needs. Members and pros should collaborate on planning a trip to a desirable location a couple hours from home. If it’s successful, then you can broaden your horizons and create memories that'll last a lifetime.