Swing for the Smokies: Golf at the Omni Grove Park Inn

Swing for the Smokies: Golf at the Omni Grove Park Inn

 

“You go onto the course and you see quotes from Bobby Jones. You go into the locker room and see a name label with Ben Hogan. The history that’s here is phenomenal.” —Frank Holly, Omni Grove Park Inn assistant golf professional

 

Frank Holly aims to find the pieces that fit.

“Every swing is different,” he said. “And each golfer has a different puzzle to figure out.”

Holly is the assistant golf professional at the Omni Grove Park Inn. High atop a mountain ridge overlooking downtown Asheville, the iconic 513-room inn and its legendary 18-hole, 6,400-yard golf course have remained a top destination for locals and visitors for over a century.

“Initially, when I heard about the position at the Grove Park, it’s the sheer history that’s here,” Holly said. “You go onto the course and you see quotes from Bobby Jones. You go into the locker room and see a name label with Ben Hogan. The history that’s here is phenomenal, and the course, thankfully, matches that history.”

Originally from County Cork, Ireland, Holly has played and enjoyed the game of golf his entire life. His hometown of Charleville was also the course where he got his start in 2012.

“I had played on that course since I was five years old. So, it was nice the way it worked out that the job came up when I turned professional,” he reminisced. “I really enjoyed it, learned a lot there, did a lot of teaching there, which I loved.”

Although his father did play a bit of golf, it was Holly himself who developed his own love of the game.

“It was more to do with the area I was in, the southwest [of Ireland]. There’s some of the best golf in the world there,” he said. “I just loved being out on the course with friends, seeing incredible courses within an hour of yourself, and I found out I was decent at it at a young age.”

In 2016, Holly and his fiancé, a North Carolina native, relocated to Asheville upon his acceptance of the assistant pro position at the Omni Grove Park Inn. The job, well, fit like a glove for Holly, a strategic player looking for more of a challenge than just simply crushing a drive straight to a green.

“It’s such a good Donald Ross design that’s very tricky to play—the greens are very penalizing,” he laughed. “What I really love about the course is that you have to really think through your shots. And it’s the same with many Donald Ross courses. If you just play for the flag, you’re going to shoot a high score. You have to be very respectful for where those flags are, being very respectful of those greens. For me, even if I’m driving the ball really well, I have to think through those iron shots.”

Holly spends his days on the course instructing those looking to not only improve their game, but also their experience.

“On the coaching side of it, I get to go out onto a range with someone who is vulnerable about their game, and within 30 minutes, you’re seeing confidence build and the understanding of their swing grow,” he said. “I enjoy dealing with someone who wants to get better at this game, which is difficult enough as it is, and being able to impart your knowledge and ability to help them with that. It’s so rewarding out there.”

 

This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to order your own free copy.

 

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