Billy Bagwell has a lifelong Carolina turf pedigree, starting with the baseball fields of Summerville near Charleston, cutting his teeth on Clemson College’s Walker Course, serving as the Director of Agronomy at the highly awarded Callawassie Island Club in Okatie, and now through his well-earned election as the 48th president of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association.
Starting at a young age, Bagwell accompanied his father – Athletic Director of the local YMCA – to area baseball fields to prep the grounds for summer seasons. From the baseball and soccer fields of his youth, Bagwell leveraged his early experience, convincing his high school to allow him a part-time job maintaining the school’s ballpark. Deciding to make this his “field” of study, Clemson University’s turf major was the obvious choice for this Carolina native where he learned from mentor Don Garrett – who was and still is the Superintendent of Clemson’s Walker Course. Bagwell says he “fell in love with the golf side of turf maintenance,” graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Turf Grass and starting out (after internships at Long Cove and Kiawah Island) as Callawassie’s Assistant Superintendent in 2007.
“I love working on coastal golf courses,” says Bagwell, and though the attraction is evident, he paints an inviting picture explaining why the fairway won over the diamond in the course of his career. “Baseball is the same every day – there’s not as much variety. Golf is different. There’s a larger acreage and so many things you can do to make it react differently.” Factoring the exclusive and celebrated grounds that comprise Callawassie Island, Bagwell also adds, “I get to see a gorgeous sunrise every day.”
Now at Callawassie 14 years, Bagwell was promoted to Superintendent when the position was vacated, and since has taken on “island wide community maintenance” as Callawassie’s Director of Agronomy. Noticed and celebrated for his impact during his tenure, Bagwell has led several environmental endeavors such as the island’s work to become designated a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in 2017 – one of only 23 in South Carolina. “Beyond a residential community we’re a wildlife sanctuary. The work we do balances delivering an experience for Callawassie Island residents to enjoy, and the important role we play in environmental stewardship.” Through this commitment and leadership impact, Bagwell’s reputation now precedes him, leading to his current role with Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association.
Founded in 1954, The Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association was established to help advance and support the profession of the golf course superintendent in North and South Carolina. By providing access to services, research, education, and networking opportunities, the association has helped enhance a level of expertise that is internationally renowned in the Carolinas golf industry. With close to 1,800 members, the association is the largest affiliated chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. As an active board member since 2015 Billy Bagwell has served as Director before being nominated to join the Executive Committee, starting as Secretary / Treasurer, and advancing to VP. Traditionally a one-year office, his role was extended an additional year during the pandemic, bringing him to the Fall of 2021 when he would be elected Association President.
As his first act, Bagwell celebrated the camaraderie and valued community that taught him “how much people are willing to help one another.” At his recent presidential address in Myrtle Beach at the CGCSA Conference and Trade Show, Bagwell stated, “I am so honored to serve alongside so many great people. The Carolinas GCSA is made up of many incredible people and we saw this week what happens when people work together to chase the same dream. Thank you for this honor to serve as the next President of CGSCA. People need people, and it was evident this week that we are all better together.”
We are so proud to have Billy as the Director of Agronomy for Callawassie Island and know he will do great things in his new role as the 48th President of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. We wish you continued success Billy and many congratulations!