(OXFORD, Miss.) – A $448,000 gift from an Olive Branch family devoted to the University of Mississippi and to the sport of golf will fund construction of a new facility providing optimal practice opportunities for the Ole Miss golf teams.
The Clay and Elinor Herrington Charitable Remainder Trust has provided resources to construct a 3,600-square-foot indoor-outdoor practice facility with hitting and video bays that will enable the collegiate golfers to continue their practices regardless of weather conditions. Plans are being completed for the building, which will be constructed adjacent to the Whitten Golf Complex at the Ole Miss Golf Course.
The quality of the facilities used for training athletes has a great impact on the success of a program, said Ernest Ross, head coach of men’s golf.
“We are so appreciative of the Herrington family for making this gift and dream possible,” Ross said. “This is possibly the most important piece of the puzzle in the continuing advancement of our facilities. The indoor-to-outdoor hitting bays will allow us to maximize the teaching potential our coaching staff has and helps us develop our players to their best. The SEC is such an ultra-competitive conference, and we are working hard to stay at the top with our golf programs. With the help of the Herrington family, we are closer to our dream of being a perennial power in the SEC.”
The late Clay and Elinor Herrington were longtime UM supporters, providing resources to a number of areas, including scholarships and facilities.
“We appreciate the longtime support that Clay and Elinor provided Ole Miss Athletics,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Pete Boone. “This is another example of continued giving from
their family, which includes Michael and Debra Herrington and Keith and Carol Allen.”
Head Coach of Women’s Golf Michele Drinkard agreed, saying, “We are very fortunate and grateful for the opportunity provided by the Herringtons to house our state-of-the-art computerized video equipment that will directly lead to improving our team’s performance. The new facility will allow us to continue our day-to-day activities when the weather becomes too inclement to be outside. The golf swing is a complex, rotational movement, and the kinematic sequence is very important. Now we will be able to monitor and train on a daily basis with the best resources, continually elevating our programs.”
Elinor Herrington passed away earlier this year. Clay Herrington, the former mayor of Olive Branch, died in 1995. The Herringtons were lifelong Ole Miss fans, and their children and grandchildren earned degrees on the Oxford campus. The couple started attending Ole Miss football games as newlyweds, and Elinor continued until she was 89. Elinor had two other strong connections to the university: Her father, W.T. Woods was a 1913 pharmacy graduate who played first base for the Ole Miss baseball team. After graduation he owned and operated Woods Pharmacy in Olive Branch for more than 55 years. In addition, her grandfather William Thomas Wilkins graduated from the medical school in the 1880s and became one of the first doctors in DeSoto County.
While the Herringtons enjoyed football games and other athletics events at Ole Miss, golf became the family’s passion.
Clay Herrington was in his 40s when he took up golf but went on to help establish or develop four golf courses. He was among citizens who founded the Olive Branch Country Club and also an industrial park, which became home to the Holiday Inn’s corporate training facility and the Holiday Golf Club. Herrington next developed the Plantation and the Cherokee Valley golf clubs, which continue to be rated among top courses in Mississippi. The couple’s children and their spouses – Michael Herrington and his wife, Debra, and Carol Herrington Allen and her husband, Keith – manage the golf clubs as well as other business interests.
“Golf meant so much to my parents and continues to be so important to us,” said Michael Herrington, who with his wife also has coordinated an annual golf tournament to support Ole Miss. The tournament provides instrumental funding for 2+2 Scholarships designated for residents of DeSoto County who attend Northwest Community College for two years and then Ole Miss for two years at the DeSoto Center campus. The Herrington’s Charitable Remainder Trust also provided a $112,000 gift to the scholarship fund.
“This facility will help Ole Miss student-athletes excel at golf. It means so much for our whole family to see our parents’ legacy continue at the university they loved so much,” Herrington said.
On a recent afternoon Herrington, Carol Allen and other family members visited with the Ole Miss men’s and women’s golf teams to talk about the new facility. The players expressed their appreciation for the gift, and coaches talked about the facility’s addition to the program.
“My parents always loved the challenge of building and creating, and Ole Miss meant so much to them,” said Allen. “This new facility goes right along with both of these aspects of their lives. I just wish they were here today to see these great student-athletes.”