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HGTC students win third straight Carolinas Turf Bowl Championship

HGTC turf team

L to R: Charles Granger, Railey Smith, Andrew Rich, Mike Millburn, John Weeks and Ashley Wilkinson. Provided

CONWAY — Horry-Georgetown Technical College continues to dominate in the field of turf management, as a team of students recently three-peated as champions of the annual Carolinas Turf Bowl held in Myrtle Beach.

The Nov. 15 event at the Convention Center — part of the two-day Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association Conference and Show — was additionally the eighth win in the last 10 years for the team dubbed the Fighting Mole Crickets.

Golf & Sports Turf Management students Mike Millburn, Andrew Rich, Railey Smith and John Weeks beat schools Clemson University, North Carolina State University and Central Piedmont Community College with coaching by professors Charles Granger, George McCauley and Ashley Wilkinson.

“I could not be prouder of a team that bonded and worked hard to achieve the win,” said Granger, HGTC Chair and Professor of Golf and Sports Turf Management in a statement. “Each student on the team is employed by a local golf course, and a few are already in assistant superintendent positions.

“The win speaks volumes for academics and the importance of students being employed and supported by the golf course superintendents and turf managers while they are in school.”

In the midst of the championships, HGTC officials opened a Turf Care and Demonstration Center in 2020, giving Golf and Sports Turf Management majors a hands-on opportunity to study turf industry practices of golf, commercial and residential applications.

The 27,000 square feet of land on the Conway campus features a Par 3 hole with a TifEagle putting surface, Bentgrass and bermudagrass demonstration green, seven types of lawn grasses for homeowners and lawn care professionals to evaluate, a bunker and a Toro irrigation system.

HGTC has offered a turf-related degree since the 1960s when it was founded in Conway off of U.S. 501. More than 8,400 students signed up for classes at the college's three campuses this fall, the largest enrollment in its 56-year history.

“We may be underestimated at times, but our students are truly the masters of the game and have an outstanding record to prove it,” said HGTC President Marilyn Murphy Fore. 

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Follow Richard Caines on Twitter at @rickcaines

Richard Caines is a business reporter for The Post & Courier - Myrtle Beach/Georgetown Times. He is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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