The only golf course superintendent to have hosted a U.S. Open Championship in Georgia will be among three men inducted into the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Hall of Fame in December. Bobby McGee prepared Atlanta Athletic Club for the 1976 U.S. Open. Aside from its stand alone status, the ’76 Open holds a special place in Georgia golfing history because it was won by another Peach State son, Jerry Pate.
McGee, who died in 2005, will be inducted along with William Shirley, certified golf course superintendent at Peachtree Golf Club also in Atlanta, and Ron Sinnock, who retired after a nearly 40-year career in 2005. The inductions will be a highpoint of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association’s annual awards banquet at The King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island on December 8.
Bobby McGee had to contend with rain in the lead up to and during the ’76 Open, complicating his preparation of the course’s bentgrass greens. The USGA later described the greens as “terrific” with McGee managing to produce the “desired lightning speed” at a cut of 5/32nds of an inch.
He was born in Rockmart, Georgia, the son of a golf course superintendent. Starting as an assistant superintendent at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, he later became superintendent at Atlanta Athletic Club. During his time there, McGee served on the Georgia GCSA board of directors and was president in 1975-76. He also served on the USGA Green Section committee for more than 20 years.
William Shirley began his golf course superintendent career at Newnan Country Club in Newnan in 1980 with no idea where it would lead. He’d been working in the pro shop when the job came open and club leaders encouraged him to step in. Completely unawares, that was Shirley’s first step on a path that is now 45 years long and counting.
From Newnan, he moved to Canterbury Golf Club in 1983, Rivermont Golf and Country Club in 1986, Idle Hour Club in late 1988, Capital City Club in 1994 before arriving at his current home Peachtree Golf Club in 1996. Shirley served on the Georgia GCSA board of directors and as president in 1993-94. In 2011, he was named Superintendent of the Year.
Ron Sinnock served as a Georgia GCSA director during nearly 40 years as a golf course superintendent in the state between Chattahoochee Golf Course in Gainesville and Coosa Country Club in Rome. At Coosa, Sinnock was superintendent host for a number of GSGA events including two State Amateur championships and the first State Mid-Amateur in 1982.
He was a pioneer of bentgrass in the state converting both Chattahoochee and Coosa from the coarser bermudagrasses of the day. His standing as a major figure in the golf course maintenance profession in the state was underlined in 1999 when he was named the Georgia GCSA’s Superintendent of the Year.