Serving in the military runs in Josh Taylor's family, but a career as a golf course superintendent runs in his veins.
After eight years in the South Carolina National Guard as an Apache helicopter mechanic crew chief that included two tours overseas, Taylor is taking aim at the stretch run of completing work toward an associate's degree in turfgrass management at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach.
"All the males in my family have been in the service one way or another," Taylor said. "My father, grandfathers, uncles. It's in the family."
Next spring, he will complete his education at Horry-Georgetown and will move one step closer to becoming a golf course superintendent.
"He has set himself up with the military and school to do whatever he wants to do," said Charles Granger, department chair and professor of the golf and sports turf management program at Horry-Georgetown. "Everyone wants options, and he is going to have those options. He is what every superintendent wants in a job candidate."
A native of Hilton Head, Taylor is not a typical college student in any sense of the word. At age 31, Sgt. Taylor is leaving the South Carolina guard at year's end. He was in charge of a maintenance crew of 11 that services 10 aircraft for the 59th Aviation Troop Command, 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. His crew was deployed twice, in 2012 to Iraq and again from September 2017 to July 2018 to Afghanistan.
First manufactured by Hughes Helicopters, then McDonnell-Douglas and now Boeing, the two-seat Apache has been in service by the U.S. Army as an attack weapon and ground-troop support since the mid-1980s.
"It's a war zone over there, so it's intense," Taylor said of his time overseas. "We're there to make sure the guys on the ground have something over their heads when they are on the battlefield."
His leadership skills, critical-thinking skills and problem-solving skills are unbelievable. He doesn't get flustered. Whatever he does, it is all about completing his mission.
Even serving his country while stationed on the other side of the world couldn't completely separate Taylor from his goal of being a superintendent.
Each student in the H-G program is required to give a presentation detailing their internship experiences to the rest of the class. When it was Taylor's turn, he gave his presentation on his internship at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach live from Afghanistan.
"His leadership skills, critical-thinking skills and problem-solving skills are unbelievable," Granger said. "He doesn't get flustered. Whatever he does, it is all about completing his mission."
Taylor's connection to golf runs as deep as his family's military ties.
"Eventually, I want to be a superintendent," he said. "I fell in love with the industry and the camaraderie."
He's been around the game since his youth, thanks to his father, Barry Taylor, and grandfather, Jimmy Taylor, since his youth. His mother, Angie Taylor, worked for the Heritage Classic Foundation, the nonprofit sponsor of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage Classic, and to that end he's been hanging around the tournament played annually at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head since he was 10. His life changed when, after his second year as a student at the University of South Carolina, he took a summer job at Spanish Wells Club in Hilton Head.
"Everything about him resonates success," Granger said. "His future is whatever he wants it to be."