The Bridges Cup officially became a global mid-amateur event in April, when it hosted its second-ever tournament at France’s Les Bordes Golf Club. The first Bridges Cup was held six months earlier at South Korea’s Nine Bridges. Two continents, two World Top 100 courses, two unforgettable showdowns — it’s well on its way to becoming one of the globe’s most prestigious mid-amateur events.
The 2023 Bridges Cup brought together 24 elite mid-amateur golfers to compete in a Ryder Cup-style tournament on a 1,400-acre golf oasis located 90 minutes south of Paris. Les Bordes offers two championship tracks and a par-3 course. The Old Course, a 7,000-yard Robert von Hagge design, opened in 1987 and was the top-ranked course in Europe for several years. It’s tree-lined and peppered with undulations that demand precision, making it an extremely challenging test. The New Course, a 7,300-yard Gil Hanse design, opened in 2021 and is one of GOLF’s Top 100 Courses in the World. It plays firmer and faster than the Old Course, with large waste areas and fascinating green complexes greeting golfers on nearly every hole. Lastly, the Wild Piglet is a 10-hole par-3 course that is designed to engineer fun. The New Course and Wild Piglet are the only Hanse designs in Europe.
Each of Team U.S.A.’s and Team Europe’s 12 competitors were hand-picked by their captains — Jeff Fujimoto leading the USA, and Simon Holt heading Europe. Fujimoto, a member at Whisper Rock Golf Club, has strong roots in the amateur and pro game, and he’s an advisor at 8AM Golf. Holt, a North Berwick member, runs luxury tour business Connoisseur Golf, and he’s also a GOLF Top 100 Panelist. Captains select their teams based on the following criteria: a strong résumé in tournament play, a respected reputation on and off the course and an affiliation with a quality club.
The rules, an adaptation from traditional Ryder Cup style, are simple: six four-ball matches on the New Course on the morning of Day 1, followed by six four-ball matches on the Old Course in the afternoon. Six foursomes matches (alternate shot) opened Day 2, with 12 afternoon singles matches closing the tournament. Thirty points up for grabs. The question: which team could get to 15.5 first?
And if you were wondering if there would be any fireworks, American Andrew Medley (Whisper Rock) provided a glimpse in the first match of the week. Teaming with Taylor Wood (Montecito Club), Medley holed out for eagle on the par-4 3rd hole, and he added his second eagle of the round on the par-5 13th en route to the Americans’ first point.
“Andrew Medley was on fire,” Holt said. “He was definitely the standout and certainly the difference in the first match.”
The 7th hole of the New Course at Les Bordes Golf Club.
Americans Hoyt McGarity (Bel Air Country Club) and Scott Anderson (Muirfield Village) were 2 down after two holes in their match, but they fought back to tie it after seven holes, and McGarity birdied the 10th for his squad to go 1 up. They closed it out on the 17th green for a 2-1 U.S. lead.
“We had to grind it out,” said McGarity, the CEO of 8AM Golf. “We got off to a rocky start on the first hole, second hole. We looked at each other as partners and said we got to pull it together here quickly, and I think we played great after. It was scrappy, but we stayed in every hole and kept the pressure on.”
The Americans’ other morning point came from Charlie Grace (Ohoopee Match Club) and Drew Stoltz (Whisper Rock), who were 1 down after five but made five birdies in their next 10 holes to win 5 and 3 en route to a split morning session, 3-3.
“The last few matches coming in, they could have went either way, but Europe prevailed,” Fujimoto said. “But 3-3, we’re excited, we’re happy with that.”
Team U.S.A.: Back row: Scott Anderson, Drew Kittleson, Brian Williams, Andrew Medley, Trey Marucci, Drew Stoltz, Del de Windt III, Ben Hayes. Front: Tom Nolan, Hoyt McGarity, David Porter (vice captain), Jeff Fujimoto (captain), Charlie Grace, Taylor Wood.
Stoltz and Drew Kittleson (Whisper Rock) later added a clutch point to cap the afternoon session. Tied through 17 holes, Stoltz and Kittleson both stuck approaches close on the par-4 18th as both of their playing partners found the water fronting the green. The Americans took a 7-5 lead into Day 2.
Europe was optimistic in its foursomes chances and got off to a hot start on Day 2 by leading in four of the six matches, but the Americans turned it around and dominated the session 5-1 to grab a 12-6 lead heading into the final 12 single matches.
The Americans needed just three points to retain the Cup, but Europe again got off to a strong start. It led in four of the first five singles matches, but Medley eventually earned the first U.S. point with a 1-up win.
Europe won four of the next five matches to cut the lead to 14-10, but McGarity’s 5-and-4 victory over Tom Etridge, Europe’s vice captain, pushed the U.S. to the 15 points needed to retain the Cup. Wood, a two-time All-American at the University of Southern California, later sealed the U.S. victory. The U.S. won seven of the 12 singles matches to win 19-11.
We talk about golf a lot, and then we talk about families and friendships, and the last time we saw each other — and hopefully the next time we see each other.
“We’re excited that we won the 2023 Bridges Cup,” Fujimoto said. “They wanted to come out here and play well and represent the USA and beat the Europeans.”
And the club, Les Bordes, turned out to be the perfect setting.
In the 1980s, Baron Marcel Bich, founder of ballpoint pen behemoth Bic, spotted the area’s untapped potential for a world-class golf course. He hired von Hagge to bring his vision to life, but Bich kept Les Bordes overwhelmingly private until his death in 1994. The club is now changing — and quickly. Since 2018 it’s been owned by a London-based private equity firm founded by Driss Benkirane, an avid golfer with a new vision for Les Bordes, his goal to mold it into one of the premier 36-hole facilities in the world. Benkirane, a scratch golfer and member at other top clubs in Europe — and his first-rate team of veterans of iconic Sunningdale, Morfontaine and North Berwick — has infused the property with fresh energy and ambition (and was thrilled to host the world’s top mid-ams).
The current focus is on increasing membership (both local and international, although it’s selective) and building on-site luxury homes and a wellness resort. The estate also has family-focused amenities, and a Six Senses hotel and spa is set to open in 2025. The hotel will be open to the public, although the golf course would still be members only.
Team Europe: Back row: Gavin Dear, Darren Crowe, Rodrigo Soares, Michael Smyth, William Shucksmith, Antoine Delon, Daniel Schmieding. Front: Colin Loveday, Jacob Austin, Simon Holt (captain), Tom Etridge (playing vice captain), Ollie Daws, Jacobo Cestino.
The growth of Les Bordes — a diverse club consisting of 20 different nationalities, with about 50 percent American members — mirrors the growth of the Bridges Cup. These matches began when CJ Corp, one of South Korea’s leading holding companies, decided to invest in the amateur game just as it had in the pro game. It leaned into this concept of bringing together the world’s top mid-amateur players at the world’s top venues to create these memorable weeks.
“We talk about golf a lot, and then we talk about families and friendships, and the last time we saw each other,” Holt said, “and hopefully the next time we see each other.”
The 2024 Bridges Cup is scheduled to be held at Haesley Nine Bridges, another of South Korea’s world-class gems, where CJ will once again play host. Only time will tell where these matches will be held in 2025 and beyond.
Josh Berhow contributed to this story.
SAINT-LAURENT-NOUAN, France — It’s interesting to watch an event grow from one year to the next.
When I touched down in South Korea last October, I didn’t know what to expect during the first-ever Bridges Cup. What it delivered was spirited vibes and an impeccable host venue in Nine Bridges Golf Club. This year, for the second iteration of the Bridges Cup, those two qualities remained the same — laughter and friendship were the core of the event, and the venue in Les Bordes Golf Club proved to be just as strong. But the quality of competition grew significantly.
Team USA and Team Europe each had 12 competitors who were handpicked by their respective captains with the following three criteria in mind: Handicap Index and a strong history of tournament play; a respected reputation on and off the course; and quality of affiliated clubs. While Handicap Index was the third-most important quality ahead of the first Bridges Cup (to ensure the inaugural event was as fun to play as it was competitive), that quality became more significant this year at Les Bordes, making it feel like a truly elite mid-amateur championship.
Both teams gather around the trophy upon the completion of the 2023 Bridges Cup.
The structure of competition also changed to prevent one side from running away with the Cup early like Team USA did in South Korea. The matches this year mirrored the traditional Ryder Cup format, albeit compressed into two days — Team USA and Team Europe ended Saturday morning’s opening Fourball matches tied at three points each, and Team USA pulled away during the afternoon’s fourball matches, eventually leading with 7 points to Europe’s 5 points. The next day, Team USA won five of their six foursomes matches to extend their lead to 12-6. The U.S. sealed the deal when it won seven of its singles matches, finishing with a 19-11 victory.
Even though Team USA eventually won in commanding fashion, the Europeans, who represented five countries, fought to the finish. They had a chance to come back well into Sunday afternoon’s matches, and it was apparent, as a spectator, that they were digging deep to make it happen. Eventually, Team USA’s Hoyt McGarity, the president of 8AM Golf who conceived the Bridges Cup, won his match 5 and 4 over England’s Tom Eldridge to claim Team USA’s 15th point, which was enough to retain the cup. Taylor Wood, a plus 4.2-handicap, sealed the outright win when he won his match 5 and 3 over France’s Antoine Delon.
Wood stayed steady under pressure as the crowd gathered around him and his match, and that came as no surprise — the two-time All American at the University of Southern California has competed in nine USGA championships and helped the West Team win the prestigious East-West Matches in 2020.
Andrew Medley of Team USA was the only player on site to win all of his matches.
The only competitor to fly home from Les Bordes with a perfect winning record was Team USA’s Andrew Medley, a plus 1.4-handicap and former Eastern Amateur Championship winner.
Les Bordes Golf Club, with its three courses and beautiful clubhouse, was an ideal host for the Bridges Cup. On the eve before the matches began, a friendly competition at the Wild Piglet, a new Gil Hanse-designed 10-hole par-3 course, warmed up the teams. The matches were then held on both the New Course and the Old Course on Saturday, both of which had their own personalities — the New Course, a 7,300-yard Hanse design that opened for play in 2021, is wide open and plays firm and fast and features large and character-filled green complexes; and the Old Course, a 7,000-yard Robert von Hagge design that opened for play in 1987, is tree-lined and undulated, demanding precision over every shot. Sunday’s matches were held exclusively at the New Course, and the variety of playing grounds kept the golfers, and the competition, feeling fresh.
The Old Course at Les Bordes.
Only the Americans headed home with the Cup on Monday morning, but both teams left with a sense of fulfillment and camaraderie.
SAINT-LAURENT-NOUAN, France — The first day of matches at the Bridges Cup has wrapped. The U.S. and Europe tied with three points each after the morning fourball matches, then Team USA pulled ahead during the afternoon. The U.S. leads with seven points over Team Europe’s five points heading into Sunday.
After watching 13 hours of golf on Saturday, I noted three qualities that stood out: the excellence of play; the beauty and variety offered by both courses at Les Bordes; and the unique camaraderie that results from team match play.
Team Europe’s Ollie Daws plays to a plus-5 handicap.
Team USA and Team Europe each have 12 competitors who all have plus-handicaps — the average handicap of Team USA is +2.7, and Team Europe’s average is +3.5. There were at least 86 birdies recorded on Friday, along with five eagles. I’ve watched a lot of tournaments at a variety of levels, and I was surprised by the quality of play during this first day of Bridges Cup. Especially coming down the stretch, with Team Europe’s Ollie Daws and Team USA’s Drew Kittleson each nearly eagling their final holes to put points on the board, being a spectator was a blast.
A large practice green sits right next to the first tee at the Old Course at Les Bordes.
The morning’s fourball matches were held at Les Bordes’ New Course — a 7,300-yard Gil Hanse design that opened for play in 2021. Its open fairways, which are built on a sandy base, play firm and fast. Large waste areas and fascinating green complexes greet golfers on nearly every hole, and the course flows seamlessly from start to finish.
The afternoon’s fourball matches were held at the Old Course, a 7,000-yard Robert von Hagge design that opened in 1987. Unlike the New Course, which is wide open and designed to play low, the Old Course is tree-lined and peppered with mounds and severe undulations that demand precision from every shot. It is notoriously difficult — for many years, a golfer’s name was added to a board inside the clubhouse if they managed to break 80, and up until 2021 Jean Van de Velde held the course record with a score of 1-under 71 (that record is now at 66). For golfers and spectators alike, the tale of two courses made for an interesting one-two punch on this 36-hole day.
Partners Andrew Medley and Taylor Wood were so unstoppable during their morning fourball match, Team USA captain Jeff Fujimoto kept them together for the afternoon matches (which they won again).
Lastly, the friendships that ensue from team match play is unparalleled. Golf is too often such an individual sport, it’s difficult to feel like a teammate when you’re playing your own ball. Watching these guys get into it was a blast, and it left me wondering why more golf tournaments aren’t structured as true team events.
Two rounds at Les Bordes remain — foursomes matches on the New Course will kick off the action on Sunday, followed by singles matches on the same course.
SAINT-LAURENT-NOUAN, France — Twenty-four elite mid-amateur golfers gathered by the Les Bordes Golf Club clubhouse Friday morning for a photo op. The snaps were part of media obligations that the players have before and after their practice rounds at the Bridges Cup, a two-day event that kicks off Saturday and pits a dozen players from the U.S. against their European counterparts. It was an unusual scene for an amateur tournament, but a pro-grade feel is in the Bridges Cup’s DNA.
Each player receives uniforms and travel gear the week before they arrive at the venue. Once on site, the teams compete on courses that are suitable for hosting high-level professional events. Even in practice rounds, the players wear their team colors; they’re announced on the tee ahead of every match; and there are scoreboards on the courses. The team spirit is high from dawn until well after dusk. To play in the Bridges Cup is to understand how it feels to compete in high-level professional team events.
The scene is set at Les Bordes for the Bridges Cup
The Bridges Cup began in 2022 after an investment from CJ Corp, a prominent South Korean holding company. CJ Corp has invested heavily in the professional game over the last decade — CJ Logistics, a branch of CJ Corp, sponsors nine professional golfers, and the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, the PGA Tour’s first-ever event in South Korea, has guaranteed to offer a purse that exceeds $9 million each year through 2026. CJ Corp is now supporting the amateur game in addition to pro golf, and it’s leaning on 8AM Golf, a holding company that owns and supports 14 golf brands (including ), to bring that amateur investment to life. CJ Corp and 8AM Golf agreed that the most impactful way to support the nonprofessional game was to create an elite match-play team event — one that feels different from the others on the amateur circuit.
CJ Corp will host every even-year Bridges Cup in South Korea, at either Nine Bridges or Haesley, but the event will visit new locations during non-CJ odd years. This weekend, the 2023 edition will be decided at Les Bordes, a 1,400-acre estate 90 minutes south of Paris. Les Bordes has two 18-hole courses — the Old Course, which was designed by Robert von Hagge in 1987, and the New Course, designed by Gil Hanse in 2021 and which ranks among GOLF’s Top 100 Courses on the World. The Wild Piglet, a Hanse-designed 10-hole par-3 course, rounds out Les Bordes’ golf offerings.
Michael Smyth (Scotland) and Rodrigo Shares (Spain) during a practice round on the Old Course.
OISÍN KENIRY (BOTH)
Andrew Medley (USA) practicing on the New Course.
Team USA and Team Europe each have 12 competitors; all have plus-handicaps and were handpicked by their respective captains. Jeff Fujimoto, an advisor to 8AM Golf, is captaining the Americans, and Simon Holt, CEO of the Netherlands-based holding company Top 100 Golf B.V., is leading the Europeans. When identifying potential competitors, the captains weighed players’ golf resumes (previous tournament results, affiliated clubs, number of courses played, etc.) and personalities to ensure the Bridges Cup continues to become known for both quality of play and overall atmosphere. Scores matter, of course, but so does the vibe.
Team USA is comprised of players who’ve competed at the collegiate, USGA amateur and professional levels; on Team Europe are players who have competed in Walker Cups, R&A members and some who’ve competed professionally. The average handicap of Team USA is +2.7, and Team Europe’s average is +3.5.
The competition will mirror the traditional Ryder Cup format, albeit compressed into two days — fourball matches will unfold on the New Course and Old Course on Saturday morning and afternoon; foursomes will follow on the New Course Sunday morning, and singles matches on the New Course will round out play on Sunday afternoon.
If the tournament matches the excitement from 2022, one team will win in thrilling fashion, and everyone will go home with a strong sense of friendship and connection.
The Bridges Cup officially has a new home.
The Bridges Cup — a Ryder Cup-style 12-man competition pitting top amateurs from the U.S. and Europe against one another — debuted in 2022 at Nine Bridges Golf Club in South Korea.
In the spirit of the Ryder Cup, players for both teams are selected by team captains, who judge candidates based on their achievements in golf. In 2023, Jeff Fujimoto and David Porter will serve as captains for the American side, while Simon Holt and Tom Etridge will handle team selections for the Europeans.
True to its Ryder Cup sibling, the Bridges Cup will be contested on European soil in 2023. The tournament host, Les Bordes, is a 7,400-yard course designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner in the French countryside, about an hour south of Paris. It is one of the most renowned new courses in the world, earning honors from GOLF’s 2021 Top 100 Courses in the World ranking, among broader buzz from the golf world at large.
The 72-hole match play event will be contested from April 27-30, 2023, with the competition held over two, 36-hole days on the 29th and 30th.
Thirty elite amateur golfers walked through South Korea’s Gimpo airport in late October pulling Bridges Cup-branded travel bags. They were also wearing matching branded hoodies and carrying identical backpacks. Together, they boarded the Bridges Cup-exclusive Boeing 737 that would fly them to Jeju Island, a place often referred to as the “Hawaii of South Korea” and home to Nine Bridges, a World Top 100 Golf Course that meanders around the island’s mountains.
The unison of movement through the airport was impressive. These golfers, who’d traveled from seven countries, were sporting the gear they’d received for an event they’d never heard of just six months prior. In a grand yet effortless fashion, this congregation at Gimpo initiated the inaugural Bridges Cup, a golf tournament that is positioned to become a mainstay within the amateur circuit.
The teams gather around the trophy on the 18th green at Nine Bridges to kick off the tournament.
MIN SU YONG
The Bridges Cup is the brainchild of Jay-hyun Lee, chairman of CJ Group, which is one of South Korea’s leading holding companies that oversees a variety of businesses from food service to biotechnology to media. Lee’s investment in the professional game over the last decade has been profound. CJ Logistics, a branch of Lee’s CJ Corp, currently sponsors nine professional golfers who compete on seven tours. And the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges is the PGA Tour’s first-ever event in South Korea. Winners since the inaugural event in 2017 include Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy, and it has guaranteed to offer a purse that exceeds $9 million each year through 2026.
Lee is now focusing on the amateur game in addition to pro golf, and he’s leaning on 8AM Golf, a holding company that owns or supports a dozen golf brands (including GOLF magazine and ), to make that amateur investment come to life. Lee and 8AM Golf agreed that adding an elite match-play team event to the calendar of amateur championships was the most profound way to support the nonprofessional game.
This was easily the coolest experience of my life.
This event, however, would need to feel far different from others on the amateur circuit. It would treat its competitors like top-tier pro golfers — each player would receive uniforms and travel gear ahead of getting flown to the venue. Once on site, the golfers would play a course worthy of hosting a premier professional event. Nine Bridges, which is South Korea’s top-ranked course, is meticulously maintained and offers a variety of holes that test every part of a golfer’s game. The course would be peppered with scoreboards, the competitors would get interviewed during and after their rounds and all meals and logistics would seamlessly be taken care of. To play in the Bridges Cup would be to understand what it’s like to compete in the most professional team events.
The amateur golfers who competed in this tournament were handpicked by each team’s playing captains — Team USA’s Hoyt McGarity, president of 8AM Golf, and Team International’s Simon Holt, CEO of the Netherlands-based holding company Top 100 Golf B.V. When identifying potential participants, the captains valued a player’s golf résumé (previous tournament results, affiliated clubs, number of courses played, etc.) and personality to ensure this debut event was a success in terms of quality of play and overall atmosphere. The Bridges Cup would center around scores, of course, but it also needed to be wrapped with an unprecedented vibe.
Harry Bolton hits an approach.
MIN SU YONG
A competitor checks out where the matches stand.
MIN SU YONG
The action at Nine Bridges began with a hot start from Team USA, who led 32 to 7 over Team International after the first round of four-ball matches. Team USA went on to win 13 to 11 in the afternoon round of foursomes. On the second and final day of competition, Team USA won the morning round of four-ball matches 15 to 7, and Team International squeezed out an impressive 16-to-4 win in the final round of foursomes. Team USA, however, was too far ahead and ultimately claimed a commanding 64-to-41 win.
The week’s surprise triumph was less tangible than anything displayed on the leaderboards. The opportunity for amateur golfers to compete for their country, proudly wear team uniforms and collectively experience the uniqueness of golf in South Korea brought these participants, many of whom had never met each other, closer together than ever expected.
The Bridges Cup’s flag blows in the wind.
“This was easily the coolest experience of my life, and I feel fortunate to have participated in a number of cool experiences,” said Team USA’s Tug Maude, a member at Merion Golf Club and the director of market development at Intown Golf. “I loved the effort to make this feel like a Tour-level event. Everything from the swag to on-course signage to being miked for nine holes really made it feel like we were part of something special.”
There are only eight bridges at Nine Bridges — the symbolic ninth represents the way golf connects people. The Bridges Cup, in similar fashion, will impact the amateur game and connect golfers in ways that few amateur championships do. As the event develops, its main goal will always be to offer an experience unmatched within the amateur golf space. Competitors are already enthusiastic about returning to South Korea in 2024 when the matches will be held at Haesley Nine Bridges. These two South Korean venues set an impressively high bar for the Bridges Cup. But if this inaugural event serves as any indication, competitors will fly home each year with memories and friendships that will shape them for far longer than anything that transpires on site.