2010: Billy McBride, Jr. Jun 7, 2010  (9 years ago)

By Randy King
Jun 7, 2010, 10:40

Inductees define area sport

Billy McBride Jr. served thousands during a span of more than 25 years as general manager at Countryside and Hanging Rock.


Courtesy of Hanging Rock Golf Club

When Billy McBride Jr. suddenly died 15 months ago, the immediate response of Hanging Rock Golf Club co-owner Joe Thomas basically said it all.

"We couldn't have had a better man running our golf course," he said. "Billy never stopped. He was always here. He was always doing something. Always."

McBride is moving into the Roanoke Valley Golf Hall of Fame.

McBride, who served thousands of area golfers in his quarter century-plus tenure at Countryside and Hanging Rock, will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame at the organization's annual November banquet.

McBride's selection was a "no-brainer." McBride was part owner and general manager at Countryside from 1983-92, helping to rescue the now-closed Roanoke course from some hard times, then spent 16 years at Hanging Rock before his death at age 67 from a heart attack.

McBride, a native of Roanoke, turned professional in 1967 and spent seven years as an assistant pro at two Maryland clubs before moving to Lynchburg, where he took his first head pro job at Colonial Hills. He later was head pro at Oakwood Country Club and Winton Country Club in Amherst before moving to Countryside in 1983.

"He made his moves early and once he got into Roanoke he knew this is where he needed to be," said McBride's son, Billy III, who has been head pro at Westlake Golf and Country Club in Moneta since 2004.

Unlike many other club pros, McBride didn't spend a lot of time playing. McBride was too busy attracting benefit tournaments and a heavy volume of daily-fee players to his golf course.

"I've never seen anybody better at getting golfers to a golf course," said Wayne Gee, a Hanging Rock assistant pro who was under McBride's tutelage for 16 years. "You walked in the door and he had a smile for you. You knew you were welcome when you walked in the door."

When Chip Sullivan moved to Roanoke in the mid-1990s, his first golf gig was under McBride at Hanging Rock.

"It's hard telling how many people Billy touched through golf in his career," said Sullivan, who succeeded his mentor as Hanging Rock's head pro. "Who knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars he's raised running charity golf tournaments all these years in the valley. Golf is such a unique sport in that it touches so many people's lives, and Billy was always there to try and facilitate that connection and help out everybody he could.

"What he has done for the Roanoke Valley, he's obviously an easy pick to be in the Hall of Fame," added Sullivan, a 2005 HOF inductee.

Sullivan, who played on the PGA Tour in 1997 and won the 2007 National Club Pro title, said McBride was the consummate club pro who would do anything it took for his club to operate smoothly.

"I've worked for a ton of pros, but Billy would not ask you to do something that he would not mind doing or care to do, or hasn't done a million times before," Sullivan said. "Some people don't want to get their hands dirty and clean toilets or cut tomatoes before the day starts and get the kitchen going.

"I used to always tease him, saying 'Billy, what are you doing ... cleaning the bathroom, we pay people to do that, you've got to take care of the bigger things here,' and he goes, 'Hey, I'm here, I'm getting it done, I have 5 minutes.' He was always like that ... an amazing man."

Billy McBride III said his father would be excited to know that's he's bound for the Hall of Fame.

"Dad would be honored to know that he's part of this," he said. "Unfortunately, he had to pass away before they recognized him all the way.

"But know what? I'm sure everybody recognized what Dad had done and that's pretty much all he needed to know."


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