Home Course Heroes

by Brad King

 Jul 16, 2019 at 6:30 PM

The ‘Palmetto Players’ earn major accolades at big events

In a state brimming with talented golfers, a contingent of McConnell Golf members from South Carolina has risen to the cream of the crop. Hailing from Musgrove Mill Golf Club, The Reserve Golf Club and Grande Dunes, the “Palmetto Players” have enjoyed a particularly impressive recent run of success.

In 2018, Musgrove Mill members Robert Lutomski and Walter Todd Sr. were honored as the South Carolina Golf Association (SCGA) Players of the Year, awarded to the top amateur and the top senior amateur in the Palmetto State.

Lutomski, who resides in Holly Tree, used a consistent season to win his first amateur Player of the Year award. Todd, who hails from Laurens, won his third straight senior amateur Player of the Year, joining a select group of Palmetto State golfers who have accomplished the honor. The two McConnell Golf members received their Player of the Year awards in January at the annual South Carolina Golf Day celebration at Columbia Country Club.

“These guys are all ideal representatives of the best golf being played around the Palmetto State,” said Musgrove Mill Director of Golf Jeff Tallman. “They truly personify all the finest qualities that golf has to offer and everything that is good about the game.”

Lutomski was able to win the Player of the Year award by just eight points over N.C. State junior Christian Salzer from Sumter. In recent years, SCGA Player of the Year winners have ranged from former tour pros to collegiate players to lifelong amateurs.

Lutomski captured one team championship and posted another high finish with partner Weston Bell, who is also a member at Musgrove Mill. The duo won the SCGA Partners Championship and The Member’s Club at Woodcreek in early spring by firing a tournament-low 16 under par. The two would pair up again to finish in a tie for second at the Players Four-Ball Championship at Columbia Country Club, finishing just four shots back of the winners.

In late May, Lutomski and Bell competed in the 2019 USGA Four-Ball Championship at Oregon’s Bandon Dunes.

“We have pretty similar games,” Lutomski said of Bell. “We’re both longer hitters and have similar iron lengths. We clubbed off each other a lot and (Bell) is really good at reading greens. It’s good to get a (SCGA) championship win, finally.

Todd tied Rick Cloninger and Frank Ford III, who had previously won the senior award in three consecutive years. Among the highlights during Todd’s award-winning campaign was a victory in the Lowcountry Senior Invitational and making the round of 32 in the USGA Senior Amateur.

Todd never finished outside the top-15 in any tournament during the 2018 season. He earned a top-five finish at the North-South Senior Championship. He finished fourth in the SCGA Mid-Am and made the quarterfinals in the Carolinas Four-Ball Championship.

Todd has been a stalwart in SCGA competitions for many years, having won multiple state Four-Ball Championships with his brother T.D. Todd — also a Musgrove Mill member — and in later years with Greenwood golfer Chip Whitt.

In 2017, Todd and his son, Neal, teamed up to win the SCGA Dudley-Sullivan Father-Son Championship. The previous year he paired up with his other son, Walt, to capture that same title. The combination of Walter and Walt — a Musgrove Mill member who played collegiate golf for Winthrop University — has won two Carolinas Golf Association Father-Son titles and two South Carolina Golf Association Father-Son events.

We alternate years with the boys,” said Todd Sr. “One year I will play with Walt in the SCGA tournament and Neal in the CGA Father-Son.”

Earlier in the year, Todd paired up with his nephew, Thomas Todd III, to claim the SCGA Mid-Am Four-Ball.

“Golf is a game for a lifetime, as well as for generations to play,” said Tallman. “These guys continue to demonstrate this, year in and year out."

Tallman added that the quality and challenge presented at Musgrove Mill prepares its members for high-level competition.

"Everyone at Musgrove Mill is so pleased with and rewarded by the outstanding play and results by our members in a wide variety of state, regional and national competitions,” Tallman said. “Our golf course was designed by Arnold Palmer during the heyday of his architectural career and Mr. Palmer considered it among his very best. It is certainly among his most critically acclaimed. The golf course that the King designed for us at Musgrove Mill is one of the most challenging and enjoyable you will find anywhere, which I believe is one of the main reasons it produces such great champions.”

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Where Are They Now?

by Brad King

 Mar 22, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Catching up with Musgrove Mill member and collegiate standout Natalie Srinivasan of Furman University.

In South Carolina, Furman University junior Natalie Srinivasan is helping lead the Paladin women’s program to heights it hasn’t enjoyed since future LPGA Tour players Dottie Pepper and Maggie Will led the school to a runner-up finish in the 1987 NCAA Championship. Furman boasts a storied women’s golf history, with Pepper, Betsy King, and Beth Daniel among its decorated alumnae.

Srinivasan, who hails from Spartanburg, S.C., ranks 66th nationally and is second on the Paladin team with a 72.4 stroke average over 11 rounds. She tied for third at both the Cougar Classic and the Lady Paladin Invitational in the fall.

Last season, Srinivasan — the daughter of Musgrove Mill Golf Club members Tammy and Ajai Srinivasan — was named to the Golfweek All-American third team and earned WGCA All-American honorable mention. She was voted the 2018 Southern Conference Player of the Year — as well as being named to the WGCA All-American Scholar Team, the SoCon Academic Honor Roll, and the SoCon All-Academic Team.

Srinivasan led the conference with a 72.36 stroke average over 36 rounds, the second-best stroke average in Furman women’s golf history. She tied the Furman low-round record at the time with a 65 in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Tallahassee Regional, where she went on to finish third.

After winning league individual medalist honors at the SoCon Championships, Srinivasan was named the 2017 SoCon Freshman of the Year. She also competed in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, where she tied for 69th — with her father serving as her caddie.

In January, Srinivasan received a pleasant surprise when she and Furman senior teammate Haylee Harford, along with Paladin alum Alice Chen, were invited to compete in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, held April 3 – 6.

“I was lucky to be at home with my family when I opened the invitation, so that was pretty cool,” says Srinivasan. “To be able to play Augusta National and have your scores count — that’s going to be very special.”

“This should be an amazing event that will showcase the best in women’s amateur golf,” says Furman head coach Jeff Hull. “Having three players in the field is special. I am so proud of all of them.”

For the event, an international field of 72 women amateurs will compete over 54 holes of stroke play. A cut will take place after 36 holes, advancing the leading 30 players to the final round at Augusta National Golf Club. In the event of a tie after 54 holes, the winner will be decided by sudden-death playoff.

Provided she remain an amateur, the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur Champion will receive an invitation to the next five Augusta National Women’s Amateurs, the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open, the 2019 Women’s British Open, and any USGA, R&A, and PGA of America amateur championships for which she is eligible for one year.

 

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Work & Play

by Matt McConnell

 Mar 07, 2019 at 11:41 PM

This company’s annual retreat mixes business with pleasure at Musgrove Mill.

Musgrove Mill Golf Club is widely regarded as the perfect place for a corporate retreat. McConnell Golf member Matt Alexander knows from experience — he brings around 25 associates from Charlotte-based Eaton Corporation to Musgrove Mill for an annual three-day retreat. For the past couple of years, employees and business partners travel from all over the continent — from California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Mexico — to meet at Musgrove Mill.

The travel is worth it. From the moment Alexander’s group drives through the secluded woodlands to the gated entrance, where cart attendants wait at the front of the clubhouse to escort the group to their cabins, everyone begins to exhale.

Jeff Tallman, director of golf, coordinates the group’s itinerary. The next three days are spent relaxing on the property without the group having to move their cars. The retreat is a mix of work and play. Each cabin is complete with everything they need, from A/V equipment to golf carts. One of the best amenities? The accommodating hospitality of Musgrove Mill’s staff.

“Jeff and his team provide everything that we could possibly need,” says Alexander. “We have held meetings in many nice locations, but we always return to Musgrove because of the personal attention that Jeff and his team give us. They make everyone feel at home.”

Food is prepared in the clubhouse and delivered to the cabins where the business meetings are conducted on the first day of the retreat. Following their work, the team breaks for cocktails and dinner in the cottage. With a pool table, fireplace, poker set, and satellite television, the cottages provide entertainment while everyone enjoys each other’s company.

Day two begins with breakfast and meetings in the Lee Cottage. Then the real fun begins — in the afternoon, many in the group tee off on the challenging Arnold Palmer-designed course. Group photos are taken along the course, especially on the elevated tee box of the fifth hole and the signature seventh hole along the Enoree River. The non-golfers go nearby to shoot sporting clays at the wildlife refuge of the Clinton House.

Later, the entire group reconvenes for drinks and dinner at the Lee Cottage. Dinner is served on the back deck, against the backdrop of the scenic wilderness of Upstate South Carolina.

“The fact that we can all spend three days together in a great location, away from the office, and get some work done makes Musgrove Mill a great business retreat,” says Alexander.

“Add in the beautiful golf course and the way Jeff and his staff have everything coordinated, and it makes this easy and enjoyable. Our associates request we return every year.

 

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Growing Their Game

by Brad King

 Jun 19, 2018 at 9:24 PM

Musgrove Mill’s longtime superintendent, Will Holroyd, earns Carolinas GCSA’s highest honor.

Will Holroyd Superintendent at Musgrove Mill Golf Club, received the Carolinas GCSA’s highest designation — the Distinguished Service Award — and was honored during a ceremony at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center last fall.

A veteran of more than 40 years in the golf course superintendent profession, Holroyd commands a stellar reputation for his course conditioning, mentoring aspiring superintendents, and service to the industry. He graduated from Clemson University with a degree in horticulture in 1975 and started out as superintendent at Oconee Country Club in Seneca, S.C., the following year.

After stints at Pickens Country Club and Fairfield Glade Resort in Tennessee, he came home to Clinton to help open Musgrove Mill, an Arnold Palmer design on the banks of the Enoree River, in 1988. There, Holroyd hosted some of the biggest events in South Carolina golf, including two State Amateur Championships.

“Will Holroyd has been a staple at Musgrove Mill for as long as I have known,” says Daryl Boe, a course rankings panelist for Golf Digest magazine and member at Musgrove Mill since 1995. “He and [Director of Golf] Jeff Tallman are both, in my mind, the two pillars on which Musgrove Mill holds its lofty perch. When I first joined the club, I don’t think I had ever played many finer greens. Even though we’ve been dealt some very bad hands from significant weather events over the years, Will continues to work his magic on the course. What Will consistently does, with the hands he is sometimes dealt, is among the finest greens-keeping accomplishments I have ever seen.”

The quality of his work at Musgrove Mill can also be measured by his tenure there. The fact that he has served as its sole superintendent for more than 30 years speaks volumes for his expertise.

Here, Holroyd reflects on his earliest days in the industry, accomplishments, and plans for the future. 

BRAD KING: Congratulations on winning the Distinguished Service Award. You were the 29th recipient of the award in the 63-year history of the 1,800-member organization. How does it feel to receive such a prestigious honor?

WILL HOLROYD: It is always special to be recognized by your peers. It’s very humbling to be included on a list of the previous recipients, who have meant so much to so many people in our industry. It’s overwhelming, honestly. The most rewarding thing is to be able to recognize all those who share in the honor. I am grateful to my employers, past and present, for giving me the opportunity and the resources to apply my craft. A special thanks and recognition go to my wife and family. My wife, Carole, has sacrificed so much in allowing me to pursue my passion. She is a very big part of my story. We joke that she raised the kids and I raised a golf course. There is a lot of truth to that.

BK: Your nomination for the DSA was accompanied by 17 letters of support from individuals across the industry who have benefited from your expertise and input. Is mentoring others an important part of your job description?

WH: Mentoring is very important. The most rewarding part of this whole thing was getting to read all the kind remarks in the letters of support. Many of the letters were from former staff members who spent time working with us early in their careers. I don’t know if I taught them anything as much as they just learned from the process. My mentoring style has mostly been by example. I have always told young people that I would help in any way that I could, but it was their responsibility to observe and to learn from both our successes and our failures. Most of our former “pupils”have learned well and are quite accomplished in their own right. This award is more a reflection of their accomplishments than for anything I’ve done.

BK: You’ve been the superintendent at Musgrove Mill since the day it opened 30 years ago. What has it meant to build your legacy there?

WH: It has always been a special place for me. About three years before construction began, there was a press release in newspapers about the formation of the club to be built. I went home from work at the golf course that evening and showed the article to Carole. I told her that this was the job I wanted. It was right then that we focused our sights on Musgrove Mill as the target. We pursued the opportunity through every avenue we could fi nd. Carole was so anxious and nervous about my first interview that she ironed my boxer shorts. Now that’s what I call being “all in!” Fortunately, we were eventually offered and, of course, accepted the job. I came on board halfway through construction. When I got there, it was nothing but dirt. Now, agronomists consider dirt a “dirty word,” claiming there is no such thing. It’s soil! Well, trust me … this was dirt! It has been most gratifying to build and continue to nurture such a special golf course on a great piece of property.

BK: Who have been some of your most important influencers?

WH: First, my parents. My mother is a retired school teacher/librarian, and my father was a Methodist minister. I learned from them about dedication to your work and about the importance of service to others. I had a lot of help early in my career from professors and grad students at Clemson. My first job was at a golf course ten miles from campus. I called on them many times, and they were always generous with their time and expertise. During my time at Clemson, I worked part time at a local course for Herb Edwards, a golf pro/superintendent. He was very passionate about turf science. Everything he did was with playing conditions as a priority. It was this influence that shaped my approach to turfgrass management: agronomics first, but playability in the end.

BK: Future plans?

WH: I plan to continue “raising my golf course,” because, unlike the ones my wife raised, this “kid” never leaves home … and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Ask a Member

by Casey Griffith

 Mar 21, 2018 at 1:07 PM

Not every sport loves you back throughout your life, but golf — as it often does — proves to be the exception. From Juniors first developing their skills to the fine-tuning and frustrations of adulthood and on into the golden years, our clubs teem with enthusiasts of all ages.

Charles Douglass, Musgrove Mill Golf Club

At a course where time seems to slow and tensions ease, Musgrove Mill has served as a needed escape for McConnell Golf members since it joined the portfolio in 2007. As visitors know, the atmosphere is relaxed but the course is no less of a challenge. It’s here that Douglass has kept his game in tip-top shape for over 20 years.

How did it feel the first time you shot your age?

I don’t remember the first time I shot my age, however I am sure it was very satisfying. Last summer, I did manage to post an 81 and 84 at Green Valley CC when I was 86.

Share with us a little about your time at Musgrove Mill.

I have been a member at Musgrove for about 25 years and enjoy playing there very much. Since McConnell Golf acquired the course, I have enjoyed the privilege of playing many of the McConnell courses.

What’s the next goal or milestone for you?

I have not been able to match my age at Musgrove (it does have a higher slope), but who knows, maybe one day. As the motto of South Carolina reads, “While I breathe, I hope.” 

   

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A Warm Welcome to the ACC

by Brad King

 Aug 24, 2017 at 6:21 PM

This past April, two McConnell Golf properties in South Carolina hosted ACC tournaments. Duke University emerged at the top of the leaderboard for both, but according to the teams and coaches, McConnell Golf stood out as a true champion.

“The 2017 ACC Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships were a great success,” says Kris Pierce, ACC senior associate commissioner for championships. “The ACC and our member schools are grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by McConnell Golf, Musgrove Mill Golf Club, and The Reserve Golf Club, along with all of the staff, volunteers, and club members.”

The Men’s Golf Championship took place at Musgrove Mill Golf Club following 15 years at Old North State Club. Meanwhile, the Women’s Golf Championship was played at The Reserve Golf Club following a nine-year run at Sedgefield Country Club’s Ross course.

A SHOT MAKERS COURSE AT MUSGROVE MILL

Duke’s men’s golf team won the ACC Tournament for its first league title since 2013. The Blue Devils won for the eighth time overall, managing a 14-under-par score of 850. Duke finished with a 12- shot advantage on runner-up Clemson.

The Men’s Tournament was thrown a curve ball just prior to the start, when a dire weather forecast for Sunday caused the league to announce the teams would play 18 holes on Friday and 36 on Saturday, double teeing every round to ensure a 54-hole tournament. Not to mention a few downpours at night, which led to playing lift, clean, and place in the fairways both days.

“Despite all that, everything went great,” says Jeff Tallman, Musgrove Mill director of golf. “We gave them a good show. The golf course held up well. Our volunteers stepped it up, sunup to sundown.”

Tallman said that despite the ACC’s relatively fast move to different venues, McConnell Golf’s attention to quality assured a smooth transition.

“The ACC had to pick a spot quickly after being told they couldn’t hold the tournament in North Carolina, so they came down here,” he says. “The greatest thing was the comfort factor of all 12 ACC schools coming to Musgrove Mill. They knew what they were going to get. Tom Ducey and a few others from Old North State Club came down to help. There were a lot of familiar faces for the coaches and players, which helped. I

think they found that down at The Reserve, too, where it was a smooth transition and made it really comfort- able. They just knew what they were getting with the quality of a McConnell property.”

Sophomore Alex Smalley led Duke with a 4-under 212 for a fifth-place tie. Teammate Jake Shuman tied for eighth place at 214. Matt Oshrine and Alexander Matlari tied for 10th at 215.

Wake Forest placed third at 3-over, followed by Florida State (4-over), North Carolina State (9-over), Virginia (10- over), Georgia Tech and North Carolina (both 19-over), Virginia Tech (29-over), Notre Dame (36-over), Louisville (41- over), and Boston College (57-over).

The individual champion was Jimmy Stanger of Virginia at 5-under 211, winning a playoff with North Carolina’s Ben Griffin, Wake Forest’s Paul McBride, and Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer. Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris and N.C. State’s Stephen Franken tied with Smalley for fifth at 4-under.

“I think the players and coaches really liked the change of venue,” says Tallman. “This golf course is totally different from Old North State. It’s more of a shot-makers course; it’s not a bomber’s course. They weren’t able to let it go down here; they had to position the ball. I think that was a challenge.”

Longtime N.C. State men’s coach Richard Sykes approached Tallman after the tournament and told him how much his team had enjoyed Musgrove Mill. “I love this place,” Sykes said to Tallman. “But when we get in the van and drive back to Raleigh, I think I’m gonna have to stop at a cow pasture and let these guys hit some drivers.”

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Musgrove Mill Hosts the ACC

by Brad King

 Apr 27, 2017 at 3:18 PM

This year, the ACC contested its Men’s Golf Championship at Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, S.C., following 15 consecutive years at McConnell Golf’s Old North State Club in New London, N.C.

Duke University emerged on top of the leaderboard, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament for its first league title since 2013.

The Blue Devils won for the eighth time overall, managing a 14-under-par score of 850 at Musgrove Mill. Duke finished with a 12-shot advantage on runner-up Clemson. Sophomore Alex Smalley led Duke with a 4-under 212 for a fifth-place tie. Teammate Jake Shuman tied for eighth place at 214. Matt Oshrine and Alexander Matlari tied for 10th at 215.

Wake Forest placed third at 3-over, followed by Florida State (4-over), North Carolina State (9-over), Virginia (10-over), Georgia Tech and North Carolina (both 19-over), Virginia Tech (29-over), Notre Dame (36-over), Louisville (41-over) and Boston College (57-over).

The individual champion was Jimmy Stanger of Virginia at 5-under 211, winning a playoff with North Carolina’s Ben Griffin, Wake Forest’s Paul McBride and Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer. Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris and N.C. State’s Stephen Franken tied with Smalley for fifth at 4-under.

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