Johnson Holliday gave his coach plenty of memories.
But one of Aynor golf coach Patrick Wilkinson’s favorites was a trip to a tournament at Pendleton earlier this year. There was Holliday, one of the best golfers in the state, helping out some of his competition on the practice putting green prior to a tournament round.
“He’s earned a lot or respect from players and coaches from the area,” Wilkinson said. “It doesn’t matter who you pair him with. You could put him with three guys who can’t break 100. He’ll be encouraging them. A lot of players wanted to play with him. They respected him. … You don’t find that characteristic out of many people at all.”
Just so happens Holliday, the Toast of the Coast Boys Golfer of the Year, packages that demeanor with some stellar ability.
He recently signed with NCAA Division-II powerhouse USC-Aiken after finishing fifth individually in the Class AA state tournament. He ended the year with an 18-hole scoring average of 75.75 and was a medalist or co-medalist in seven separate events.
He’s considered one of the better players to come out of Aynor High School. And he said his production was only possible because of his ability to combine three traits. There was the competition aspect. But maybe more importantly, he wanted to help others and maximize his fun with the game while he still could.
“You can’t just go out there and be a stiff,” Holliday said. “If someone’s not playing well, I’ll go out there and give them a few tips. You don’t want to be beating people when they’re playing bad. You want to beat them when you’re playing your best.
“It’s junior golf. Maybe if I was going out there to make a living doing it, it would be different.”
Holliday’s next step will be joining a USC-Aiken program that recently finished fourth in the NCAA Division II National Men’s Golf Championships. He’ll be playing on a course that allows him to firm up his short game and continue to develop overall.
Wilkinson has continued high expectations for his departing senior, in part because of Holliday’s attitude. He was able to shrug off the occasional shank and make the most of it.
“Once you get upset and the adrenaline starts flowing, bad things can happen,” Wilkinson said. “Johnson learned at an early age that you’re going to hit bad shots.”
Holliday certainly hit more good ones than bad.
He was selected to the North-South All-Star roster. He also flirted with a few records from the school’s most successful player, Michael Maness – who won the Class AA state individual title in 1997 and 1998.
“It’s a good feeling. I left my own mark at Aynor,” Holliday said. “I feel like I’ve done well. I’m setting a standard for the kids next year. I have a lot of friends who I tried to help do better.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.