To say owner Luke Hollingsworth of Holly Ridge Golf Links in Archdale has put his heart and soul into his work would be an understatement.
The 39-year-old Hollingsworth has been the majority owner of the public course since 2007, but he and Chad Newton, a former head professional at Pinewood Country Club, have decided to join forces. Newton has bought into Holly Ridge as a part owner and both want to take the course in the same direction.
“Chad will bring in a whole new perspective from the golf operation standpoint and he gives us a good, solid PGA presence,” said Hollingsworth, whose family was one of the three owners who originally opened the course two decades ago.
Newton, also 39, is the president of the Carolinas PGA. He brings a lot of experience in the pro shop area, along with the teaching and management side of running a facility.
“Just his knowledge of the business is so important to where we want to go with our course,” Hollingsworth said. “We are both excited about this new arrangement.”
Newton spent the last 11 years at Pinewood Country Club in Asheboro and he developed a friendship with Hollingsworth that eventually led to a business relationship.
“I’ve watched how Luke has operated the course and his vision is very clear,” said Newton, a Winston-Salem native who also worked as a head pro at Bermuda Run Country Club. “This isn’t something that we entered into lightly. We both talked at great lengths about everything that’s involved.”
Newton has always spent his time in the business, nearly 18 years, focusing on the golf pro aspect. Now that’s changed with his first venture into ownership.
“Being a part owner and in the management part of it as well means you are more invested and while there are challenges. I’m ready,” Newton said.
Because Hollingsworth and Newton have been in the business for a long time they realize the challenges that face any golf course. Retaining customers, growing the game for juniors, and keeping the course in good shape are at the top of their list.
“It has to be all about the customers and the service you provide,” Newton said. “It is a lot easier to retain a current customer then to go out and recruit a new one.”
Hollingsworth says his philosophy is to make sure those golfers who come out to play have a good experience so they return again and again.
“Our goal is to provide the best golfing experience for everybody who walks through our door,” said Hollingsworth, a Randleman High School and N.C. State graduate. “We realize there are a lot of options out there but we want to give our customers what they deserve.”
Adding to the team at Holly Ridge is superintendent Dean Farlow and Nick Cromer, the Golf Shop Manager and Tournament Director.
Holly Ridge was one of the first area courses to convert to Champion Bermuda greens in 2009 – a grass that is more heat-tolerant in the dead of summer. It’s an experiment that has worked well, according to Hollingsworth.
“We’re very proud of our greens and they have matured very nicely,” Hollingsworth said.
Holly Ridge, which was designed by Jim Bivins, is a par-72 that measures just under 6,600 yards from the back tees. In October 2008 the course opened a new clubhouse.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on continuing to upgrade our entire facility,” Hollingsworth said. “And that’s what we plan on doing.”
For Newton, he’s excited about another challenge in the golf business and says he can’t wait to get started. Newton played baseball at East Carolina, but upon graduation got into the business starting at Wilson Country Club. He was also an assistant at Sapona Country Club and Forsyth Country Club.
His first job as a head pro was at Bermuda Run Country Club before he went to Pinewood, where he won several Carolinas PGA awards.
“It has always been a dream of mine to be in the ownership and management part of golf,” he said.
Newton said the timing was right for his career, and it couldn’t have worked out any better.
“I’m all in,” Newton said, “and the thing that’s exciting is Holly Ridge is already established and has a great reputation.”