Jan. 31, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
Ryan Holroyd has always had a passion for being a Gamecock, even if his role is behind the scenes. Holroyd is in his first season as a volunteer assistant coach with the South Carolina men's golf program.
"What I love about golf more than anything now is the relationships, whether it's relationships with coaches or the players," Holroyd said. "To have the chance to enjoy the game through the eyes of these competitive players is just great. To have that perspective is really unique.
"I've known (head coach) Bill McDonald for quite a while. He's seen my passion for the game, and he approached me about helping out where I could be useful to the program and to the guys on the team. As a volunteer assistant coach, I try to be another source of encouragement and support."
It's not the first time he has worked behind the scenes as he was an equipment manager for the South Carolina football team during his undergraduate days in the early 1990s. In working with the football program two decades ago, and now working with the golf program, Holroyd has a deeper appreciation for what college coaches do.
"I think the average fan has no idea how much time that those coaches put into it and how much they are away from their families," Holroyd said. "The demands and the pressure are very high."
After graduating from South Carolina in 1994 with a degree in retail management, Holroyd served as an assistant golf professional at Spring Valley Country Club in Columbia for six years, where he was a Class A member of the PGA and a member of the board of directors for the South Carolina PGA.
"The PGA has two different branches," Holroyd said. "You have the tour, and you have the PGA of America which encompasses all of your club pros and teaching pros. That's where I was. I was a teaching pro and helped run the golf at Spring Valley Country Club, giving lessons to kids, adults, and seniors. I ran a lot of clinics.
"To get into the program and become a Class-A certified professional, you have to take playability test, and then you go through an educational program over the course of about a year and a half to two years. You go through all different facets of being a club pro."
After following the team around, that was the first time in my life where I ever had any regret about not playing at a smaller school because the atmosphere was just so infectious.
As an undergraduate at South Carolina, Holroyd did not play for the Gamecocks, although he did have other college offers.
"I played for Spring Valley High School, and I had talked with (then) coach Steve Liebler about walking on, but I had my fill of golf at that time," Holroyd said. "I was helping Bill (McDonald) at the Camden Invitational last fall, and I was riding around with him. I told him that previously, I never had any regret about not going to a smaller school to play because I always wanted to be a Gamecock. After following the team around, that was the first time in my life where I ever had any regret about not playing at a smaller school because the atmosphere was just so infectious."
While he didn't compete for the Gamecocks, Holroyd did enjoy his opportunity to be a part of Gamecock Athletics in his role with the football team.
"I had an opportunity to get a scholarship working as an equipment manager for the football team," Holroyd said. "So I did that from the spring of '91 to the spring of '94. I worked mostly for (former head football coach) Sparky Woods, and then one semester for Brad Scott when he came in to be the football coach."
Holroyd found out about the opportunity from a high school chum who was already working in the department as an equipment manager.
"The toughest part about that position is that you were still taking a full course load in college, but you still had a 40 hour work week job as an equipment manager," Holroyd said. "That was a tough balance. During the fall, you're there before the football players get there in preparation, and you're there well after they all leave. So you put in quite a few hours back in those days. That was the toughest part, but it was a lot of fun being around the program and traveling with the team."
On game day, in the days before wireless headsets, Holroyd ran the sideline holding the chords to the headset for defensive line coach Brad Lawing. While it doesn't sound glorious, Holroyd has great memories from his experiences.
"I followed him all along the sidelines," Holroyd said. "I loved that guy. It was a fun job. I was between the hedges (in Athens, Ga.) when Brandon Bennett went over the top in the last second of the game to give us the win in Georgia. I also remember playing Tennessee when we first got into the SEC, and Hank Campbell made a stop to beat them."
As he looks forward to new memories with South Carolina Golf, Holroyd is well aware of Coach McDonald's sense of humor and propensity for pranks.
"I will never try to pull a practical joke on him," Holroyd laughed. "I've heard the stories from people who have tried to prank him. You don't want to do that because he will get you back, and then some."
Holroyd's day job keeps him busy as a specialty pharmaceutical salesmen for Allergan, Inc. He lives in Columbia with his wife, Amy, and their two boys, Carson and Christian.
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