For Johnny Kincaid, Beckley’s Historic Black Knight municipal park isn’t just a place he’s worked for the past 50 years.
To him, it’s also been a home and a place that he knows better than anyone.
“I started here when I was 18, and I’ve been here ever since,” said Kincaid, the head groundskeeper at Black Knight.
In recognition of the 50 years he’s worked at Black Knight, a new street sign was unveiled Monday on the back road leading to the property’s maintenance shed which houses all the tools and vehicles Kincaid uses to maintain the grounds.
The street sign reads, “Johnny Kincaid Way.”
Now every day on his way to work, Kincaid will be able to drive down a street named in his honor in recognition of his dedicated work to the golf course.
Even after 50 years, Kincaid said the thought of retirement has not crossed his mind. “I may take a vacation, but I ain’t gunna retire,” he said.
Kincaid has watched the property change hands a few times over the years, so Beckley Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Gray Baker said Kincaid was a huge asset when the city purchased the property five years ago.
“I just knew that when we purchased the place, that the golf course was in good hands because he agreed to stay on,” Baker said. “He knew more about that golf course than anybody else could possibly know … He knows everything. He knows how to operate every piece of equipment. He knows how to fix every piece of equipment. I’m pretty sure he’s familiar with every blade of grass on that 67 acres.”
These sentiments were echoed by Micah Davis, the director of golf at Black Knight, who was present Monday afternoon at the golf course when Kincaid’s street sign was unveiled.
“I just think it’s neat to see and be a part of that dedication to a job, to a task, to a property, to a commitment,” Davis said. “People don’t stay in jobs like they used to.”
Also present at the street sign unveiling was Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold.
“He’s been an institution here,” Rappold said.
For a time, Kincaid said he lived on the golf course in the groundskeeper’s house, which is located a few feet away from the maintenance shed.
Although he no longer lives on the grounds, Kincaid said he left a lasting impression on the property in the form of a blue spruce tree he planted several decades ago, which has grown to be one of the tallest trees on the property.
He even joked that although the city may own the property, the tree is his.
When asked about his favorite spot on the golf course, Kincaid said holes 2 and 3 were his favorite because they had the best views. “Number 3 is the dead center of the golf course. No one around nowhere,” he said, “… and Number 2 on the outer you can look all the way down to Raleigh.”