Sam Houston State University golfer William Holcomb has exceeded expectations during his tenure as a Bearkat. The senior has compiled an impressive list of accolades, and on Oct. 8 he picked up the first individual title of his collegiate career at the 2019 Bentwater Intercollegiate in Montgomery.
“It didn’t happen the way I envisioned it,” Holcomb said. “It was kind of a burden lifted off of my shoulders. I know how much I want to win and all of the people that have helped me become the player I am, I know they want it just as bad as I do.”
A product of Crockett High School about an hour north of Huntsville, Holcomb began golfing when he was seven years old.
“My dad decided to buy a cabin at the nine-hole course in my hometown,” Holcomb said. “My friends and I would drive around and play golf like we were a bunch of old men. We’ve had a lot of really good golfers come out of the Crockett area—which is astonishing with how small it is.”
Prior to becoming a Bearkat, Holcomb finished first at the 2015 Junior PGA Championship Qualifiers and was ranked No.7 in Texas in 2016 by Junior Golf Scoreboard. Despite the name he has made for himself during his four years at SHSU, his path to becoming a collegiate golfer was a little different than many people might think.
“Truthfully, I wasn’t really that highly recruited out of high school,” Holcomb said.
According to Holcomb, he had an idea of what to look for during his recruiting process thanks in large part to his sister who was a golfer at Stephen F. Austin University.
“I had looks from numerous schools in the Southland Conference,” Holcomb said. “UTSA and [SHSU] were two of the top schools I was looking at. [SHSU] has access to the best courses in the nation. I would put us up against any school on course access and just getting to play great golf courses.”
A winning pedigree is also important to Holcomb, and Bearkats head coach Brandt Kieschnick has a history of success.
“I love that guy,” Holcomb said. “He’s basically a mentor. He’s like a second dad to me. [SHSU] won conference the two years right before I committed. I was like, ‘I’m going to a place with a bunch of winners. Coach is a winner.’ That pushed me to come here.”
Holcomb’s honors extend beyond just his performance on the course. Not only has he garnered back-to-back first team All-Southland Conference selections, but he was also named the men’s golf Student-Athlete of the Year in 2017 and 2018 for his academic work.
“It’s been tough to balance everything,” Holcomb said. “School has really come easy for me. I’m very blessed to be an athlete and a student because I get access to the best tutors and stuff I might not normally get if I was just a student. Things like that have really helped my success both ways.”
As good as Holcomb has been, he is not alone in the spotlight at SHSU. Senior teammate Noah Steele has matched Holcomb swing for swing, and the friendly competition keeps them both at the top of their game.
“We came in together the same year,” Holcomb said. “We love golf and love hunting, but we’re complete opposites on personality. We both want each other to succeed, but we want to beat each other playing our best.”
Holcomb even went to visit the nutritionist this year after noticing how in shape and ready for competition Steele looked.
“I was like, ‘Noah [Steele] looks like he’s doing the right things every day,’” Steele said. “He sleeps enough and eats the right stuff. I need to be able to do that so I can make sure he doesn’t have an advantage.”
Golf, school and his team are important to Holcomb, but so is his Christian faith and his family—specifically his wife, Graycie.
He and Graycie have been married for almost two years. They dated for a little over a year, but the start of their relationship had a comical charm.
“We’ve known each other since we were kids,” Holcomb said. “We actually went to Homecoming together, and I asked her to go on a second date and she said ‘No.’ But later on she let me take her on a date.”
He will look to build upon his recent individual and team success as the squad continues to work toward its goal of winning the Southland Conference Tournament in April 2020.