The year was 1964, and Plymouth carpenter Rich Deziel was considering selling the farmland he grew up on near Holly Lane.
He gave it a second thought, though, pondering that it might be neat to have a golf course in the city of Plymouth. So he and his brother Bill transformed the land into Hollydale Golf Course, which debuted 50 years ago in 1965.
“It’s our grandpa’s legacy,” says Jora Deziel Bart, Rich’s granddaughter.
Named for its Holly Lane address and a rolling hill-and-dale landscape, Hollydale started as a nine-hole course. The success was so great, nine more were added and later a driving range. In 1974, the family bought land in Corcoran to launch Shamrock Golf Course.
Shamrock became the bailiwick of Rich’s son, Rick. For 33 years, Rick and his wife, Lynette, along with their children, ran the course; 12 years ago they returned to Hollydale, and Bill’s family now manages Shamrock.
Rick was 11 years old when he got his first job at the course, picking rock. He hasn’t looked back since. “It was fun being outside,” he says. “I like the people, I like the game.”
“Dad just fell in love with the course,” Bart says. That simple love of being outdoors and maintaining the greenscape lit Rick’s fire for the course, and he passed that passion on to his own son, Ryan.
Now it’s Ryan in the head greens superintendent position. His wife, Lisa, works at the course, as does Jora and her husband, Adam, and their sisters and husbands, Malia and Robbie Kazsubowski and Sheena and Kevin Swanson. And of course, Lynette is a fixture at the course, along with the grandkids: Cade, Cameron, Barrett, Tanner, Reid and Lennon.
“We’ve always been a part of it, loading pop machines, driving golf carts,” Jora Bart says. “We’ve grown up with golf and we love it.”
Bart picked up her first golf club when she was 3 years old, and now it’s her nephews who are discovering their love of the game and course. “They’re out there swinging clubs and love to be a part of the course; it’s already part of their fiber,” she says.
The many kids they hire for summer work become a part of the Deziel clan, too. “Everyone becomes like family,” Bart says. That includes the course rangers, who patrol the course throughout the day, clean carts, keep the course neat and interact with the golfers.
“We keep things moving so there is no backup,” says Dick Briggs, a nine-year Hollydale ranger. “It’s fun, a nice way to spend the day. I can’t remember anytime that people weren’t nice.”
“The course is always in good shape; it’s managed well,” says Pat Porte, Hollydale’s part-time golf professional and instructor. “It’s fun to play.” Porte, who has been at Hollydale since 2004, was quick to credit Ryan for the immaculate upkeep of the greens and the rest of the family with the great customer service.
Business has grown along with those greens. Gone are the days when the course owned just two lawn mowers for greens upkeep. As the trees sprouted up and golf’s popularity took off, so did the course.
“The industry has changed so much over the years, it’s amazing,” Rick says. Hollydale now operates 10 mowers to handle fairways, the greens and tee. The maintenance and grounds crew have seven members; the clubhouse, 12.
(Left: 30th anniversary newspaper featuring Bill and Rick Deziel; Photos Courtesy of Hollydale Golf Course.)
A Community Course
The Deziels aren’t the only ones who have grown with Hollydale and the sport. The city of Plymouth has taken leaps and bounds in size and development since the course was built.
“I used to think this was the boondocks,” Rick says of Hollydale’s place on the map. “It was corn, bean and alfalfa fields.” Hollydale maintains that sense of country, while houses and the city expand around it. “It’s a pocket of wilderness in Plymouth, it’s country,” Bart says.
Still, business hasn’t always been a hole in one. Economic downturn took its toll on golf courses, too. Plymouth used to be home to courses such as Hampton Hills and Elm Creek before the economy took the best of them, along with a number of courses throughout the state and country. Bart explains that in the 1990s, the gold industry was booming, and the course was “crazy busy”; then recession hit.
“When the economy is down, we’re down, but we maintained as much as we could,” Rick says, stating that there were times when he wasn’t sure how they would make it. But clearly they have successfully persevered.
Bart credits the community with keeping the dream alive, word-of-mouth for keeping them going, while Rick credits what he calls the “family factor.”
“[Golf is] more of a family activity than it used to be,” he says.
Courses like Elm Creek fell subject to housing developers, but Rick believes Plymouth’s growth has aided Hollydale’s business. “Plymouth expanding has helped,” Rick says. “We’re pretty lucky that we’ve been blessed with this area.”
“Plymouth has been pretty supportive of the business and the family,” Bart adds. “The people who live around Hollydale really want it to stay a course. We feel very fortunate and don’t take it for granted, because we know things change. This is so much our identity as a family.”
End of an Era
Rich was 92 when he passed away in 2011, leaving a void not likely to be filled at the course. According to Bart, her grandpa visited the course every single day.
“It kept him young and going and motivated,” she says. “He was a total part of the fiber of that course.”
Rich always wanted to make sure his golfers were having a good time and instilled that customer commitment mentioned by Porte and Briggs, into his family. “We want [our customers] to have an awesome experience,” Bart says.
“They’ve always been very good about taking care of their customers,” says Don Cosgrove, a longtime patron of Hollydale and Shamrock. “I first golfed there three or four years after they opened in ’65, and I’ve been playing there ever since.”
Nine years ago, Cosgrove moved from Crystal to Plymouth, right near the Hollydale course. “We just like the course, the people,” he says. “It’s always been a good place to play.”
(Above: Jora Deziel Bart, Adam Bart, Lisa and Ryan Deziel. Below left: Lynette Deziel, Sheena Swanson with sons Tanner and Reid. Below right: Malia and Robbie Kawsubowski with sons Cameron, Cade and Barrett; Photos Courtesy of Hollydale Golf Course.)