USC Aiken Continues Golf Legacy

November 21, 2017

Coach Mike Carlisle has created a golf dynasty at USC Aiken that makes the Pacers a perennial contender among teams vying for the NCAA Division II championship. 

While he’s modest, Carlisle has led the program to 10 Peach Belt Conference championships in 25 seasons in the league, including a three-peat in 1995-97 and back-to-back crowns in 2002-03, 2005-06 and 2013-14.  The five-time NCAA Southeast Region champions have made 25 trips in the last 26 years to the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the National Championship Tournament 19 times.  Most recently, the Pacers claimed the 2017 Peach Belt Conference title behind all-tournament team performances from Michael Hocker and Johnson Holliday.

Many of Coach Carlisle’s students have had successful amateur and professional golf careers. Ryan Dillon, Aaron Black, Scott Usher, Dane Burkhart and Jeff Goff have all played professionally on various mini-tours, including the Gateway Tour, the Tarheel Tour and the Nationwide Tour.  Former USC Aiken standouts Scott Brown, Matt Atkins, and Roberto Diaz are competing on the PGA Tour. 

Despite the rigors of the PGA Tour, Scott Brown and his wife, Allison, are actively helping the More Than a Game capital campaign to create a golf practice facility on the USC Aiken campus.  The 9-hole facility will become the permanent home for the USC Aiken Men’s Golf Team and The First Tee of Aiken.

Pacer golfers are fortunate to play at Palmetto Golf Club since they don’t have a facility on campus. 

“We cause a lot of wear and tear on grass that we don’t own,” says Carlisle.  “When I’m talking to recruits, the first thing they ask is: where’s your practice facility?  I show them the plans and look forward to the time I can show them the real thing.”

The More Than a Game campaign has raised more than $1 million toward the $3.17 million project.  Since this project is relying on private donations, 100 percent of the funding needs to be committed before a shovel is placed in the ground. Both USC Aiken and The First Tee of Aiken believe the project will add to the students’ experience on campus.

“Athletics is often thought of as the front porch of a university,” said Jim Herlihy, USC Aiken director of athletics.

“Partnering with the First Tee program in Aiken provides our golf student-athletes the chance to engage with our local youth and that opportunity for engagement is an important part of the student-athlete experience at USC Aiken.

“Working to develop an on-campus golf practice facility will combine those engagement opportunities with practice options that will allow us to remain as one of the premier DII golf programs in the country.”

Donations may be directed to USC Aiken, 471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC  29801.  For questions, please contact Mary Driscoll at or 803-641-3448.

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2018 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 20th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 13th time in first place.