Playing to win: Connor Bringhurst set to hit the links in the Dominican Republic

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Connor Bringhurst is quite familiar with the fairway. Since he was 10 years old, the Ridgefield player has participated in tournaments all across the United States. Before that, he’d spend days out on the course as a caddy for his older brothers Kellen and Cade.

“I didn’t really fall in love with it until I was about 10 years old when I started to do tournaments,” Bringhurst said. “Once I turned 10, I really started playing a lot and grinding on my game. I would try to go with my brothers a lot so they could give me some pointers.”

Turning to his older brothers for advice wasn’t a bad place to start. Throughout their time at Ridgefield High School, Kellen and Cade Bringhurst set personal records, participated in state tournaments and ultimately brought home some hardware for the Spudders for the first time in school history.

Connor is more than just a caddy for his brothers now, but an honorable challenger. He’s managed to best Kellen a few times and Cade once.

“That was a huge accomplishment for me,” he said about beating Cade. “I was really happy.”

Now 13, Connor is golfing in a team setting for the first time as he competes for the View Ridge Middle School Herons. On the course, he competes with a fellow teammate in duos, playing for the best hit between the pair. While different from playing on his own, Connor said he enjoys playing in a team setting because he gets to cheer on his teammates, talk with them about strategy, and it gives him a chance to feel like he’s playing in the Ryder Cup.

Outside of school, Connor competes in many different solo tournaments. Over the first weekend of October, he shot an 80 stroke game at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell, Oregon, winning his division of the first autumnal U.S. Kids Golf Tournament. Over the summer, he played in the Oregon Junior Golf circuit, winning five tournaments total, and placing in the top five for the rest.

“It’s fun to win,” Connor said.

He said playing well gives him a lot of confidence to play the ball how he wants.

Playing for U.S. Kids wasn’t a new experience for Connor. This spring, he accumulated enough points through his wins to qualify for the U.S. Kids Caribbean Championship in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in November. After that, he’s headed to Florida to golf at a PGA course in December.

“I feel really accomplished,” Connor said. “Like my hard work is finally paying off and I can get my game where it needs to be and have some fun in the Dominican Republic.”

Fun isn’t the only thing Connor is striving for, though. 

“I want to beat ‘em,” he said, mentioning he is looking forward to the competition. “I want to get that win.”

Before he heads out for two full weekends of golf, Connor said he needs to work on his long game and get more distance on his drives. He plans to hit the weight room to put on some muscle before heading out.

As for his short game, he feels like it is “right where it needs to be” and he feels his hours of putting practice has paid off in the long run.

For Connor, the game of golf is more than practicing your hits and building the strength needed for long drives. Building a strong mental game and having the right mindset is just as important.

“You always got to have a good attitude out there. You can’t ever get down on yourself,” he said. “It’s almost a 100% mental game up there. Even when you’re having a bad day, you should stay positive.”

Connor said building a positive mindset and learning to “take some time” while out on the links is the biggest thing his brothers, who are his biggest golfing inspiration, taught him about the game. His favorite professional golfer, Collin Morikawa, has a similar mindset and remains calm on the course.

“I can always see him smiling on the course. He’s never had a bad attitude,” Connor said of Morikawa.

With both of Connor’s older brothers serving mission trips in Ethiopia and New York, he hasn’t gotten to challenge them on the links in awhile. But Connor said his brothers are proud of him and a little jealous that they weren’t as good as him at 13.

“The first thing Cade said to me was ‘dang, you’re going to beat me when I get back,’” Connor said.

In the meantime, Connor will keep playing in solo tournaments and alongside his team at View Ridge Middle School. After that, he plans to bring his mindful play to the Ridgefield High School team, with the ultimate goal of playing D1 golf in college and possibly making the PGA Tour. Until then, he just plans to have fun.

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