Coach Ben Bergner has been a rock star with The First Tee of Greater Seattle since 2013! Get to
know him as he shares how he got his start in the game of golf, his insight, experience and
advice for young players!
“I really like golf and I like to have fun with whatever I am doing,” Coach Ben says. “I have been
hitting golf balls since I was 2 and have been playing competitively since I was 8, and it is really
just about enjoying yourself. That’s all golf is about.”
What motivates you?
“Honestly, I enjoy sharing the game of golf with people, and it’s not always just golf. You learn
how to problem solve. Golf is a series of challenges that there is never one answer for, and you
always need to think critically. You are always given a different situation and you need to make
the best of what you got. What motivates me is that there are always people trying to figure
that out and that we are there to help them.”
What is your best advice for young players?
“Aside from the fact that with every shot you hit, you need to hit the center of the club or as
close to it as you can, you have to believe you can hit the shot you are trying to hit.
“Frustration comes easily from the ‘golf is hard’ standpoint, but a lot of it is expectations.
Players tend to have expectations that aren’t always realistic. Even the pros miss the majority
of putts from 10 feet!”
Which First Tee lesson or activity is your favorite?
“It’s not an actual First Tee lesson, but competition should be fun! I believe in encouraging fun
competition to test your skills with different activities and games. Much of life is a competition
and we need to have ways to practice that are fun!
“One activity that works really well is the Swish Hoop Race – how it works is you set up hoops
and hitting stations in an open area – hoops/targets can be modified to accommodate different
“The goal is to fly a ball into each target hoop – closing that target for the team
– and to ‘close out’ the round by closing out all targets, scoring an overall point. After a
team hits a ball in a hoop, they must announce their current score. With two hoops, you can
just announce ‘first.’ With 3 or more hoops, it works best to use different color hoops and
have teams announce loudly the colors they have successfully landed in, e.g. ‘purple and
red’ with green hoop remaining. Players within a team alternate a single shot at a time.
After each round – rotate groups to new hitting stations.”
Favorite golf joke?
“I don’t have a favorite golf joke but I do often use ‘FORE’ as a forewarning say if somebody
would inadvertently meander outside of the safety zone.”
Favorite club in the bag?
“I am an equal opportunity clubist! It is a mindset – whatever club I need to hit is the right
What hobbies do you have outside of golf?
“I honestly like golfing a lot. I have a 3-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback named Cacao that keeps
me busy. I also like playing guitar and have been playing for around 20 years. I enjoy BBQing,
smoking foods, going to the beach, and I am up for playing any just about any sport at any time.
I keep enough stuff in my trunk so that if anyone ever wants to play a sport, I got it!”
“My mom’s jambalaya! Grilled shrimp, chicken, Portuguese sausage, rice, tomatoes, Creole
seasoning – spicy, smoky and just amazing!
“I also love sushi and teriyaki – we have such good teriyaki here!”
Getting back to your journey through golf, who was it that taught you to play?
“My dad. He introduced me to the game. He would take us to the driving range and would drill
holes out of wooden clubs to make them lighter. He taught me to play until I was 8 – he
wanted me to learn from other people so that I would not get frustrated with him. Even to this
day he will watch instructional videos and share with me along with tips on how to incorporate
them into my game. We play once or twice a week. He knows my game and has seen it evolve.
A special moment was when I shot 64 at Jefferson in February and he said it was the best golf
he has seen me play and that was special considering the many rounds we’ve played together.”
What is a special memory that you have from teaching the game and its values?
“I learned how fearless some participants can become. I remember an Eagle class that I was
coaching at Riverbend and would take them out to play on the course. When pairing them up I
would ask who wants to play against me and every single time, young Eagle player Cole
Reynolds said ‘ME!’
It’s rewarding to see how hard the kids work and their desire to come and prove it. Cole
coming to class eager to test himself reminded me of myself and how I used to have the skill to
beat my dad but could not prove it when playing against him. It reminded me of me and it is
special to see that. I beat my dad for the first time when I was 19 or 20 and that includes A LOT
What advice would you give to the aspiring golfer?
“If you want to play golf and enjoy it for the long-term, you need to learn to forgive yourself. I
don’t consider myself a hot head, but we are all going to hit bad shots and have bad shots
multiple times within a round – golf is not a game of perfect. Arnold Palmer used to give
himself 7 steps to be emotional and then emotionally done with a shot. 7 steps and it is over –
the only shot that matters is the next one.”