Ben Stodghill of Kirkland, Wash. has been elected as the new president of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. He succeeds Peter Fibiger of Victoria, B.C., who had served as PNGA president since May 2018.
Since 2006, Ben has served as chairman of the PNGA Championship Committee.
“I was approached by some members of the Board, suggesting I might want to consider being the next president,” Ben says. “With the reorganization of the PNGA and its relationship with its member associations, and with a stronger emphasis being placed on PNGA championships, they said because of my being on the Championship Committee for so long it would make for a nice transition.”
Ben has significant credentials, all designating his commitment to the game, and his enjoyment of giving back to it.
For nearly two decades, Ben has served as treasurer of the Bellevue (Wash.) Golf Course men’s club. Since 2007, he has been on the PNGA Board of Directors, and since 2010 he has served on the PNGA Executive Committee as a vice president. In 2008, Ben received WA Golf’s George Holland Award as their Volunteer of the Year.
And in 2014, Ben received the PNGA Distinguished Service Award, considered the highest honor the association bestows.
“Since 1899 (when the PNGA was founded), the association has been focused on the individual clubs throughout PNGA territory,” Ben says. “Now, the PNGA serves the respective associations under the PNGA umbrella, and they in turn serve their individual clubs.”
Ben says the focus is now to fully support the member associations. “And sometimes that means stepping back and letting them do their job,” he says. “The PNGA will be very conscious of scheduling championships which do not conflict with other events during a busy season. There will be a lot more collaboration with our member associations.”
He knows of the quality of PNGA championships, and sees the next step as elevating them to a wider audience, while recruiting quality players from a larger pool.
Ben and his wife Marilyn moved to Kirkland, Wash. in 1982, and he has been a volunteer at PNGA championships since the early 1990s.
“I got asked by the PNGA office to volunteer at a championship being held at Bear Creek CC (in Woodinville, Wash.),” Ben said. He worked the event with Jackie and Joel Belsvik (who themselves received the Distinguished Service Award in 2003), and they encouraged him to volunteer at the next championship. “And it just kind of grew from there.”
Ben grew up “on the Kansas side” of Kansas City. As a teenager, he worked as a caddie at a local country club. “I got lucky, because I got to caddie for some great players when they played in local tournaments, such as Gene Littler, Jim Colbert and Carol Mann.”
His family moved to Tennessee when he was a senior in high school. There, he worked in the pro shop at Fox Meadows Golf Course, before going on to college at the University of Memphis.
If you have ever played in a PNGA championship, chances are you have been fortunate to have had Ben Stodghill as your starter. His slow southern drawl – born and bred in him from his youth spent in Kansas, Tennessee and Texas – eases the first-tee jitters and makes the players feel as though they are part of something special.
When asked how he’s been able to volunteer for so long, Ben said, “I get asked that a lot. Every place I go, in every championship, the players always tell us how well-run the event is, and it feels good to be part of that. I know that if the event goes smoothly, it leads to greater participation. Also, I like to see the progression of the players as they grow – from the junior events, to the men’s and women’s, on up to the senior divisions.”
And we’re looking forward to continued growth, with Ben Stodghill as president.