Roy Williams, retiree: “I’ve been so busy it’s unbelievable”
Retirement, Roy Williams said, was terrible for his golf game.
Other than that, he doesn’t regret anything.
“I didn’t wake up in the morning saying, ‘Oh my God, what did I do?’ Williams said Wednesday morning, standing on the 10th tee at Sedgefield Country Club.
Four months before his decision to quit UNC, the 71-year-old says he’s been busier than ever, and not just on the golf course. Between taking the opportunity to follow his family everywhere – Little League baseball, flag football, dance recitals – and keeping all the broken promises he’s made over the years, Williams’ new schedule quickly filled up.
“Always, people would ask me to do so many things in the spring and summer thinking basketball coaches aren’t busy then,” Williams said. “It really has always been my busiest time. So I would always say, I will, I will. These people reminded me that I said I would. So there were a lot of them. “
This includes three pro-ams, the first two milestones of their own. The Wells Fargo Championship at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow in May was his first public appearance as a former coach. The opening of Rex Hospital at Wakefield Plantation in Raleigh in June came amid news that his former rival Mike Krzyzewski would follow him into retirement at Duke.
On Wednesday before the Wyndham Championship, Williams was deeply in his new normal, even though even the tournament director still wanted a photo with him. Williams played in a group with another recent retiree, former ACC commissioner (and new Sedgefield resident) John Swofford, and his former boss, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham.
This group was supposed to perform with Hideki Matsuyama, who, like Williams, performed well at Augusta National this spring. But the Masters champion was a late scratch, replaced by Doug Ghim, who looked a bit stunned by the attention surrounding his new group off the tee.
(The starter, however, announced Ghim as “Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama” to a collective backing from the crowd. “I would love to win a Masters,” Ghim joked as he left the tee.)
Spending more time on the golf course was something Williams hoped to enjoy in retirement, but “enjoying” might not have been the right word until now.
“I played more golf around this time than I ever did in my life, and I played worse,” said Williams. “I haven’t found the right formula yet. The best news is, Wanda hasn’t kicked me out of the house and I can still play.
Of course, a lot of guys who talk like that end up getting their winnings back on the 18th green.
While Williams plans to split his time between Asheville and Charleston and Pinehurst, that doesn’t mean he won’t continue to be involved with UNC. He has a new office at the Smith Center as he tries to navigate the rough waters to stay close to the program as Hubert Davis takes over while trying to give Davis the space he needs to chart his own path.
“What I’m trying to do, a few days a week or at least every two weeks, be in Chapel Hill,” Williams said. “I asked them if they would give me a closet. They gave me better than a closet. I have a desk and a phone and everything.
He remains on call to serve as an ambassador when needed, meeting with basketball and football rookies as well as the three new North Carolina head coaches in gymnastics, rowing and women’s golf. And in a few months, he’ll reap the rewards for all of those donations to the Rams Club over the years.
He has 10 premium season tickets for this basketball season at Smith Center, his first in 50 years as a fan. Even in retirement, Williams will not stray too far.