Oh, brother: Nebraska siblings make their mark in golf

Bobby and Billy Bolin have small-town beginnings and a big presence in golf.


Bobby Billy Bolin
The Bolin brothers, Bobby (left) and Billy, at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. Photo courtesy of Billy Bolin

Bobby and Billy Bolin remember when Shorty’s Ice Cream Shoppe on West Main Street used to go by another name.

In tiny Albion, Neb. — population 1,600 and about two hours northwest of Omaha — the ice cream store was called Charlie’s when they were boys living on a farm and loving golf. The Bolin brothers still love golf, and they’re making their mark in the business at two renowned golf courses.

Bobby Bolin is an assistant superintendent at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., where the 118th U.S. Open was contested last month. In Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses rankings for 2017-18, Shinnecock Hills is No. 4. Billy Bolin, who came to Southampton in June to visit his brother and watch some championship golf, is an assistant PGA club professional at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., which has hosted events such as the U.S. Women’s Open and is ranked No. 29 on Golf Digest’s list.

Spending time together at the U.S. Open gave the pair the opportunity to reflect on just how far they’ve advanced in their respective professions.

“It’s big for us,” said Bobby. “We have a love of the game, and we want to be at the best places.”

Bobby is 28 and Billy is 31. Perhaps they were meant to do great things at great golf courses. Maybe it’s in their blood. Their great-uncle Dick Bolin (who passed away last year) is in the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame for his playing career.

The Bolins’ father, Jeff, doesn’t just farm — he has won club golf championships. Their sister, Brooke, has got game too. “She hits it 265 yards off the tee,” said Billy, adding that Bobby is a pretty good player in his own right. Billy is also confident his brother has what it takes to succeed in the superintendent realm. “He can go as far as he wants in this business. You’re not going to meet someone who is a harder worker than him. It’d be impossible,” Billy said.

Bobby Bolin, who went to the University of Nebraska, has been on the Shinnecock Hills staff since 2015. He knew then that the U.S. Open was coming, and he cherished it. “It doesn’t get much bigger than this,” he told GCM during U.S. Open week. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.