Family Ties

by Lauren Eberle

 Apr 19, 2017 at 3:44 PM

When Jeff Tallman was in Junior High School, his mother would often drop him off for the day at a golf course. “If it was sunny and summertime, I’d be out there,” he recalls. “I loved every minute.”

Years later, Tallman still gets a thrill out of spending his days on the golf course. But as the Director of Golf at Musgrove Mill Golf Club, actual golf is just a portion of his job. In addition to running the day-to-day operations of the club, he works to make guests feel like family, spending time with each group that comes to play.

Tallman got into the golf business out of school, starting at a couple of clubs in Indiana. After he married, he moved to Augusta, Georgia and worked as an assistant golf pro. A few years later, a position opened at Musgrove Mill Golf Club. The Tallmans, who had an eight-month-old at the time, saw great appeal in Clinton, South Carolina’s tight-knit community and soon made the move. 

“Musgrove Mill’s intimate setting helps us stand out,” Tallman says. “We really take the opportunity to connect with our members.”

Tommy Parrish is one of Musgrove Mills’ original members, and says Tallman is a people person who has done great things for the club: “You’re always glad to see him, and he’s always glad to see you.” 

It was spring when the Tallmans first arrived to Clinton. “The azaleas were blooming, Presbyterian College was abuzz, and we found a home in the center of town,” recalls Tallman, who is the father of three nearly-grown girls. “It’s been a true pleasure raising a family here.”

Family is a theme that motivates much of his business practice, too. “We’re golf professionals; we’re not professional golfers,” he explains. “We can play good golf, but what we’re always thinking about is our members - not our game. What can we do to make their day better? Every time they pull in through the gate, they can enjoy what we call the ‘decompression chamber.’ They can reconnect, relax, and refocus.” 

Seeing the sport change over his time in the business, Tallman says he still hates to hear folks say golf takes too long. “I like to think of golf as quality time you can’t get back,” he says. “The four hours someone spends with their dad or mom on the golf course - they’re some of the best times of their lives.” 

His father was an avid golfer, and would take Tallman along from the time he could walk. In high school, he had a particular fondness for golf. His college team even finished 16th in the NCAA. 

“I got into the golf business for the golf - but I don’t think this is a business that you can just acquire a taste for,” Tallman explains. “I think it has to be in your blood. You have to love getting up and out there ... And you have to have a family that understands all of that. This is a service business and it takes a lot of give. You either have it or you don’t - and I’m so glad I do.”

A Tip From the Pros

From Musgrove Mill's formidable #7, Tallman discusses weighing the risk/reward of a challenging hole. 


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Member's Corner

by Jessie Ammons

 Jul 01, 2016 at 9:33 PM

When Tom Williamsen joined Musgrove Mill two decades ago, it was a secluded haven for mostly local golfers. Twice a year, Williamsen and his wife, Faye, would make the six-and-a-half-hour drive from their northwestern Virginia home, bags packed for a week long stay. Williamsen says they looked forward to the quiet escape: “When you play the golf course, you don’t see any houses and you don’t see a road. The only thing you see out there are turkey and deer. Because they have cottages and rooms in the clubhouse, when we go, we park the car and don’t ever leave the property.”

Now the couple have raised their grown children, Erik and Kaaren, and Williamsen has retired from his position as a Lutheran pastor. Always an avid golfer, the game is now his full-time focus. He serves on the Golf Digest rating panel, a group of about 1,000 golfers nationwide who visit courses year-round to rate them for the magazine’s annual Top 100 list of best places to play. With dozens of courses under his belt, Williamsen says Musgrove Mill is still his favorite. “The golf course is unique,” he says. “You don’t play it and think, ‘Oh, this is great, and it sort of reminds me of this golf course or that golf course.’ It stands alone.”

Now, the couple have traded in their week long biannual vacations for more frequent weekend jaunts. If Faye is unable to join, Tom plugs into the “close-knit community” of members, specifically a group of “golf nuts” he’s gotten to know well over the years. And he’s sure to spend time with the Musgrove Mill staff, whom he now considers friends. “I’ve known Jeff Tallman for 30 years now and he’s the best golf pro I’ve ever had,” Williamsen says. “I always go down and talk to Deborah in the kitchen. The employees down there are just phenomenal.”

As Musgrove Mill continues to garner acclaim, Williamsen reports that it has maintained every bit of secluded local charm. “You’re out in this pristine wilderness. A retreat is exactly what it is. It’s just a ball"

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Remembering Doug Mahan

by Matt McConnell

 Jun 25, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Late Musgrove Mill member Doug Mahan once kindly wrote about his favorite hole at the Mill, which was and still is #5. “Musgrove Mill is dear to my heart. It’s a phenomenal golfing venue. It’s a true golfer’s golf club,” he began, before continuing humbly. I can’t say I knew the man from reading his article, but after witnessing the “Battle at the Mill,” a memorial celebration for Doug Mahan, I feel as if I knew him well. 

On April 29th, 70 players from six different countries met together on the fairway of #5 at Musgrove Mill to continue celebrating Doug Mahan’s life seven months after his passing last fall. Close family of Doug’s were already waiting 75 feet above us on the tee box with one revolutionary war cannon ready to blast off. As the crowd on the fairway was getting bigger and bigger, mist began turning into rain, setting the tone for an emotional and amazing ceremony.

As we awaited the beginning of the ceremony, I gazed across the fairway which was packed with all of Doug’s friends from around the world and I thought, “Wow this is amazing.” I then could overhear one agree with another that “this was exactly Doug.” All of a sudden without warning, the cannon master approached the edge of the tee box, stood up straight and yelled, “Aim… Fire!”

Kaboom! A loud cannon blast shook throughout Clinton, SC as Doug Mahan became one with Musgrove Mill. After a few seconds of this surreal moment, someone broke the silence in the fairway with a “Wow” followed by another “Wow” as we watched Doug’s ashes linger above us. Then, a man in a Scottish tartan came in our view and began to play Amazing Grace beautifully on his bag pipe. At that point, all 70 players in the fairway cheered loudly for Doug and his family above us.

Once the ceremony came to a close with bad weather upon us, everyone was ready to begin what they always enjoyed with Doug - playing golf. This occasion was very special as it heralded the first “Battle at the Mill” in honor of Doug with six teams playing against each other and representing their home countries. All of his mates from Australia, England, South Africa, New Zealand, and Holland were there to fight it out all day. But as usual, the Americans prevailed.

After their round, everyone gathered for dinner on the back deck of the clubhouse, which was the most amazing part of the day to me. All 70 players plus Doug’s family were sitting at the same table with an incredible view of the sun descending upon the golf course. The promising noise of spring filled the air with frogs and crickets chirping louder and louder as the sun lowered. Initially, we thought the event was in jeopardy with bad weather. However, we felt nothing but peace as night fell.

I really began to get to know Doug when his good friend Dr. Bruce Bode stood up and commented “This is a phenomenal day. The weather held off, and his whole family was here. I would like to toast to Doug in his memory, to a very phenomenal person that changed so many people.” After many clinks from the wine glasses and shouts of “Here Here!” and “Cheers!” each country would have one person to talk about their great friend Dougie. I heard so many incredible things about this man from so many different accents. The Australians got things started by saying, “It didn’t matter whether you have known Dougie for five minutes or five years, you were still awarded with the same enthusiasm from him.” Later, the English pointed out, “You always felt like you were special to Doug. He always had a bit of time for you, and he made you feel really good to be around. You judge a man by the company he keeps, and I think this group says everything about Doug.” Big smiles filled the table as more stories about Doug were expressed, especially how the Dutch put it: “He was larger than life.”

What really came clear to me was when the South Africans said “He was a great connector, and he connected all of us.” Everyone then stopped for a moment to take a look at each other across the table and to truly agree. With our full attention on the South African Ambassador, he finished his peaceful words with, “In African folklore, when the rains come down at a memorial or ceremony, it’s a welcoming. And Doug was welcomed where he has gone--and then he turned the rain off so we could play golf.” I felt chills going down my back as others had both smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. Many truly believed this, as we were dealing with tornado warnings the morning of what became a beautiful day.

The dinner continued with laughter and sadness. Regardless, I learned so much about Doug Mahan and life in general--I wish I could fit it all in this article. But another amazing moment was when Doug’s longtime friend spoke and told us how Doug once said “God gave us a memory to have a second chance to happiness,” which would lead him to say “So through our memories of Doug, we second that chance of happiness.” Of course, this was followed by many more rounds of “Here Here” and “Cheers!”

Eventually, Doug’s brother Alex took the table and would go on to say “If you asked what made Doug a great man…it wasn’t his stature, it wasn’t his height [the shorter brother joked], it wasn’t his strength because he was a strong guy; but it was the stature of his name that made him great.”

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