The life of a golf course architect is a nomadic one. For most, it's a maze of flights, long days in the dirt and a grab-bag of hotel rooms.
But Atlanta-based architect Bill Bergin has tossed aside continental breakfasts and jet engines in favor of wheels. Over the past four years, he has logged more than 160,000 miles in his 2018 Mercedes Airstream Interstate.
Before you ask: yes, the van has a name, and yes, it's golf-related: Albie, short for "Albatross."
"It's truly a mobile office," Bergin says of Albie. In addition to ample storage for all the tools of Bergin's trade, Albie is equipped with work, shower and sleep spaces. "When it is on the road," he says, "one of us is in the back working."
By "us," Bergin means himself and his son, Matt, who has been part of his dad's architecture firm, Bergin Golf Designs, since 2016. Like the Joneses, the Dyes and the Fazios before them, the Bergins keep the family tradition of golf course design alive.
Zigzagging across the Southeast, Bill and Matt split the driving. "I probably get more done in the back [of the van] than I do in my regular office," Bill says. So far, they've driven Albie to three dozen design and renovation projects across 10 states.
Albie has been especially busy in 2023; Bergin Golf Designs' website lists 13 current projects in different stages of work. There are renovations to existing courses in his native Georgia, at Valdosta Country Club and the Palmetto Course at The Landings Club outside Savannah. In the far northwest corner of the state, Bergin is building a brand-new mountaintop layout at McLemore Club, on the heels of a major renovation of the property's original Highlands Course. He is also overhauling two munis: The Links at Audubon in Memphis, Tennessee; and Indian Pines Golf Course in Auburn, Alabama. He has other projects as far south as Fort Myers, Florida; and as far north as Richmond, Virginia.
Equal parts workhorse, home-away-from-home and father-son bonding place, Albie continues to chug along, helping the Bergins make the golf courses of the South more exciting each year.