Pebble Beach Superintendent Bubba Wright shares his journey to hosting the U.S. Women’s Open

By |  July 5, 2023 0 Comments
Graphic: Golfdom Staff

Graphic: Golfdom Staff

It’s funny how a way to make a little gas money as a teenager can, one day, lead to a job maintaining a bucket-list location for so many, a true golfer’s paradise. That’s the reality for Pebble Beach Golf Links Superintendent Bubba Wright.

“I was actually an English major in college. I wanted to be a journalist … but I found out that was pretty competitive,” Wright says. “I had kind of an agriculture background growing up. This is a blend of ag and my love for sports. I interned at Pebble Beach for the 2010 U.S. Open and never looked back. It’s been great, a very rewarding career.”

A California native, Wright attended Rutgers University for its two-year turf program. He spent a brief stint at TPC Scottsdale, but otherwise, the oceanside views of Pebble Beach have been his office ever since.

“The view never gets old. You have to pinch yourself driving around the property every day,” Wright says. “The best part of my job is the staff. These guys have a ton of experience, a lot for me to draw on. It’s great to be a part of their lives and get to know their families.”

Tournament tested

Wright and his team already hosted the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. Pebble Beach Golf Links is well-known for the many tournaments it hosts, but in its 100-plus years of existence, this will be the first U.S. Women’s Open played on the course.

The USGA is not asking for much of an adjustment from the normal set-up of the course for the U.S. Women’s Open, Wright says.

“We have a pretty good blueprint here from hosting so many championships and U.S. Opens,” he adds. “There’s already a good framework for how they set up the course. What is unique about the women coming here is that you can play the course as long as you want. There’s no running out of space on our tee complexes.”

Wright says to expect what a U.S. Open at Pebble usually looks like — fast and firm greens, taller rough and narrower fairways.

“We’re very tournament tested,” Wright says of the course and his staff. “Look at this year, we went from the AT&T to quickly switching gears to the U.S. Women’s Open. Hosting tournaments is in our DNA, and we have guys who have been here for 40 years. They look forward to all of them and never take them for granted. Any time you get your course on camera, it’s an opportunity to showcase your work on a grand stage. We always get jazzed up for tournament golf.”

The famous No. 7 at Pebble Beach Golf Links is the shortest par 3 on the Tour at just 106 yards. Its cliffside location makes it a challenge for even the world’s best golfers. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

The famous No. 7 at Pebble Beach Golf Links is the shortest par 3 on the Tour at just 106 yards. Its cliffside location makes it a challenge for even the world’s best golfers. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

A new corps of volunteers

Along with his veteran crew, Wright looks forward to continuing a new tradition with the U.S. Women’s Open: welcoming a large contingent of women in turf to the volunteer crew.

“Troy (Flanagan) at the Olympic Club (in San Francisco) started that up and I was fortunate enough to be there for a couple of days with him and see them in action,” Wright says. “As soon as I saw it and after talking to Troy, I knew it was a no-brainer to bring it to Pebble Beach as well.”

The tradition continued last year at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, N.C. Wright expects about 30 women to join his crew for the tournament this year.

Kimberly Gard, territory manager for Syngenta, helped Flanagan get that first year’s volunteer corps off the ground. To see it continue — and grow — is a real thrill, she says.

“I’ve known Troy from way back when he was in Las Vegas and that was my territory,” Gard says. “He told me the idea, and I told him, ‘That’s brilliant.’ But he didn’t know where to go next. Eventually, we got it in a chat group, and then it snowballed. Two friends would tell two friends, and so on.”

Gard adds that the community it has created for women in turf is something no one expected.

“We knew it would be impactful, but we didn’t realize how significant it would become,” she says. “You’ll hear this over and over again; they’ll tell you they don’t know how to put (the importance) in words. For some of these women, they’re the only female superintendent in their entire state.”

Learn from the best

As the 78th edition of the U.S. Women’s Open nears, Wright says course preparations are in good working order. A wet winter allayed his previous concern of a drought. His biggest focus now is being prepared, having a great plan and sticking to it.

Wright adds that the opportunity to meet a large community of turf professionals for a common goal like the U.S. Women’s Open is a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved.

“Learning from the best people you can is my No. 1 word of advice,” Wright says. “Be a sponge. You’re never going to be able to tell a crew how it’s done unless you’ve done it yourself. Learn from the best people you possibly can.”

About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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