“My father taught me the meaning of hard work,” says Roy Bradshaw, who is now in his 39th year at this storied property in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “He ran a full-service gas station, which I helped with when I turned 13. When I started at Southern Hills Country Club in 1983, I just paid attention and learned, which, by the way, was what my first superintendent told me to do.”
“He doesn’t think he knows everything, and he doesn’t act like it,” says superintendent Russ Myers. “He simply achieves results every day, naturally.”
Bradshaw had been in a few roles at Southern Hills, starting as part of the crew, then becoming an irrigation technician and then a spray technician. In 1990, he became an assistant superintendent. After the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, the equipment manager position opened and Myers saw Bradshaw’s potential.
Bradshaw had great knowledge of the property, respect from others and outstanding leadership skills. He was, and is, an established family man entrenched in the community. He is the kind of person every manager wants on staff. Assistant superintendents rarely remain in that role for extended periods of time and are unlikely to retire in that position, so Myers made him an offer.
“I recall asking Roy if he had ever considered being an equipment manager,” Myers says. “He replied, ‘nope.’ We discussed his career path and how I thought a successful equipment manager could fix the issues we had in the shop. We needed more organization and predictable results. I asked him to consider trying it for 30 days. If it didn’t work, he could go back to being an assistant. Roy is the ultimate multitasker and he’s willing to try anything for the benefit of the team. He jumped into it the next day and never looked back.”
Bradshaw was encouraged to keep the position since he thoroughly comprehended the agronomic demands of the course. He was confident he could ensure the equipment was ready for projects during the growing season, particularly as he learned how mechanics prepared the equipment for everyday use. “Many superintendents or assistants find those things out the first time they need something done in a hurry,” says Bradshaw, who has always excelled at learning on the job. Both the staff and properly functioning equipment are vital to get the work done — and done well.
Bradshaw manages three staff members who help him and there will be up to four volunteers who will work with him during the PGA Championship. Southern Hills has several high school students on their seasonal staff but not many have shown an interest yet in managing the equipment. Bradshaw loves to watch the local Coweta High School Tigers play football (including his descendants!), he owns a flip phone and shakes his head when rap music plays, struggling to hear the appeal. He’s grateful for a supportive wife and his kids and six grandchildren, who live close and who he gets to see often.
When he retires, Bradshaw might play more golf and see more of “our great country. If not for God, I would not have been able to accomplish all that has come my way.” He also enjoys getting to know the people who he works with and for. He is grateful to work for a club that cares for its employees and wants to see them succeed. That’s motivational.
“I trust Roy with everything that is important to me,” Myers says. “I trust him to manage the turf and staff that provides my family’s livelihood. I trust him to care for my kids. He is a man of the highest integrity; he possesses a tremendous work ethic and consistently pursues improvement. He knows where everything in the ground is on this property. He is independent — you never ask more than once. There is no aspect of the club he has not been involved in: equipment, hiring, recruiting, budgeting, irrigation, nutrition, building construction, restorations/renovations, wells, mowing, events, building bridges, tree work and major championships. He is my go-to guy for anything.”
Having a staff member like Roy Bradshaw is a major blessing — not only when hosting a major, but every single day of the year.
Front row, left to right, Southern Hills equipment technicians Tommy Parker and Andy Martin; back row, equipment manager Roy Bradshaw, equipment technician Curtis Williamson and superintendent Russ Myers.