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!