Scott Watson, 43, wins top scholar award from GCSAA
Scott Watson, a 43-year-old student at Rutgers University, where he is pursuing a turfgrass management degree, has earned the top prize of $6,000 among 16 awards in the 2015 Scholars Competition offered through the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
The $30,000 program is primarily funded by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment and administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf, GCSAA’s philanthropic organization. It was developed to recognize outstanding students planning careers in golf course management.
“My wife and I both broke down in tears when we learned of winning the scholarship,” said Watson, an assistant superintendent at Linville Golf Club in Linville, N.C. “I never expected it. This will take some of the pressure off of wondering how we are going to make ends meet. I had kids when I was young and had to start working. I never had the chance to think about college until now.”
Watson started working at Linville Golf Club in the mountains of western North Carolina when he was 19 and advanced to second assistant superintendent in 2006, but he knows he needs a college degree if he ever wants to be a head superintendent. The program at Rutgers is highly acclaimed and fits his schedule, since it is offered in the winter months when his golf course is closed. Watson will graduate in June 2016.
Watson’s son Chase, 24, was an inspiration to his father. He earned a turfgrass science degree from North Carolina State University and is employed as assistant superintendent at Diamond Creek Club in Banner Elk, N.C. His youngest son, Chance, is on the golf team at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
The top award is named for the late Chet Mendenhall, who was a charter member of GCSAA, a past president (1948) and recipient of the association’s Distinguished Service Award (1986).
Carlota Sanchez de Ocana Huidobro of Spain, who is attending Michigan State University, received the second place award of $5,000. Fourteen others received awards ranging from $2,500 to $500.
Sanchez de Ocana Huidobro received the MacCurrach Award, named in honor of the late Allan MacCurrach, who became the PGA Tour’s first staff agronomist in 1974 and was the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award winner in 1997. The PGA Tour funds this award.
Watson and Sanchez de Ocana Huidobro will receive all-expenses-paid trips to the 2016 Golf Industry Show, Feb. 8-11, in San Diego.
Winners were selected by the GCSAA Scholars Competition Task Group. Criteria included academic achievement, potential to become a leading industry professional, employment history, extracurricular activities and recommendations from a current academic advisor and a superintendent with whom the student has worked.
Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to golf/turf management and be a GCSAA member. Undergraduate applicants must have successfully completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study in an appropriate major.
For more information on the program, visit the education section of www.gcsaa.org.
About GCSAA and the EIFG
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at www.eifg.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.