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.


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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Escape & Reset

by Matt McConnell

 Jul 23, 2015 at 6:19 PM

When it came time to plan a recent guys’ weekend, we knew it would be a golf trip. But that was only the beginning. We wanted our stay to really feel like a getaway - we needed to escape our daily grind, a little bit of adventure, and an off-the-beaten path kind of setting.

Musgrove Mill was therefore a natural fit.

The Arnold Palmer designed course, nestled at the base of the Appalachian Mountain foothills and etched along the banks of the Enoree River, is a property with facilities that are serene and comforting.

Settling In

Driving through the rolling hills of upstate South Carolina into The Mill felt like entering an enclave. A few wild creatures greeted us — deer, turkey, and even a fox — during our mile-long drive to the main clubhouse. The staff upstaged them, though: we were immediately and warmly greeted and given the keys to our spot for the weekend, Lee Cottage. The Mill offers two cottages adjacent to the driving range, as well as two suites adjoined to the clubhouse. Surrounded by pine trees, our home away from home was idyllic and cozy. We had four bedrooms, two private bathrooms, a huge shared living area, a full kitchen, a large-screen satellite television, a screened-in porch and – perfect for a guys’ weekend – a pool table. Delighted with our accommodations, we returned to the clubhouse to secure a 1:30 p.m. tee time.  

A Feast For The Senses

You know you’re on vacation when all you have to think about is golf and food. With time before our golf game, the staff again surpassed our service expectations by telling us it was time to think about dinner — a request well received among a group of always-hungry men. We decided to grab lunch in the clubhouse, which was top-notch, simple cuisine served in a relaxed ambiance.

Over lunch, we perused menus for the real dining highlight: Cottage Dinners. You can elect to have on-site chefs provide most of your meal for you, leaving the seasoned main course for you to prepare for yourself in your cottage. We went with what is the crowd favorite, the Musgrove Mill Original Steak and Shrimp Dinner.  

The Centerpiece

Bellies full but mouths already watering for the next meal, it was time to hit the course. Dubbed “the most challenging course you’ll ever love,” Arnold Palmer took inspiration from the site’s backcountry location when designing the layout. The Mill’s 6,940-yard, par 72 course often changes elevations; each hole is an entirely different experience. Fortunately, this bodes well for golfers of every level like us, as Palmer created a variety of tees.

We couldn’t stop marveling at the unpredictable elevations and landscapes. It was as if we were in the lowcountry marsh on hole number eight and then suddenly a highlands course on hole number ten. The Mill’s signature hole is number seven, considered one of the most demanding in the Southeast. Let’s just say the 190-yard shot over a bend in the Enoree gave us a good run for our money and leave it at that.

Thanks to its variety, it was in fact a course that challenged us in a very satisfying way. Plus, fairways of lush Bermuda grass made it a sight to behold around every bend. Every hole was so unique, it seemed like you could play this track all day and never get tired of it.  

Tradition Worthy

Wonderfully exhausted from our time on the course, we returned to the clubhouse for a round of drinks before it was time to see what those Cottage Dinners are all about. We arrived home to a shrimp cocktail appetizer, salad ingredients, and baked potatoes with all the fixings. No prep work required. There were also, as promised, seasoned steaks waiting for us to cook, so we cracked open a few beers and fired up our grill.

Afterward, sitting on the porch and re-hashing the day’s activities, one of my friends declared our trip one of the best he’s ever taken — and we had only finished day one! We planned for another round of golf the next day, as well as a little downtime spent enjoying our cabin and some fishing.

By the weekend’s end, we felt as rejuvenated as we’d hoped, and then some. We were so glad we had come to stay at Musgrove; inimitable service and unbeatable amenities made for a worry-free three days. Add in the friendship and community formed around golf, and this will likely become an annual tradition.

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