University of Florida’s Bryan Unruh Honored with GCSAA’s President’s Award
Gainesville, Florida–J. Bryan Unruh, PH.D., a Professor at the University of Florida and Associate Director of the West Florida Research and Education Center, has been named the recipient of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s 2023 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship. He will be recognized during the Sunrise Celebration of the GSCAA Conference and Trade Show on February 8th in Orlando.
The President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship was established in 1991 to recognize an exceptional contribution to the game of golf and the environment, a contribution that further exemplifies the golf course superintendent’s image as a steward of the land.
“Dr. Unruh has been instrumental in the development and expansion of golf course ‘best management practices,’ which have truly been a game changer for the industry,” said Rhett Evans CEO at GCSAA. “His work has been invaluable to the game of golf and our members, Bryan personifies what the Award for Environmental Stewardship is all about.”
Unruh’s journey to nearly three decades at the University of Florida began in an unlikely place, Dodge City, Kansas. While growing up he was involved in 4H, and attended training on mowing lawns by the local county extension agent-his first introduction to turfgrass. After earning his Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees in horticulture from Kansas State University, he received his Doctorate in horticulture from Iowa State University in 1995.
In 2003, Unruh played a key role in the launch of the effort to build environmental ‘best management practices(BMPS) for Florida golf courses. “You drive around Florida and you see a lot of sensitive ecosystems. This coupled with a large golf industry, compelled Florida golf course superintendents to be proactive and make sure their management practices minimize environmental impact, “said Unruh about Florida’s pioneering BMP work.
The Florida BMPs were published in 200, and Unruh became a leading force behind GCSAA’s initiative to have BMP manuals established for all 50 states, a goal that was achieved in 2020.
Florida’s work was further validated earlier this year when a state bill recognizing the Florida BMP Certification program was signed into law.
“It was unanimous in the state senate and had only one negative vote in the house. It was really a bipartisan effort,” Unruh said. “It memorializes the effort and recognizes the significant role that the golf industry has in Florida and the long record of environmental stewardship that the golf course superintendents have embraced.”
A 32-year GCSAA member, Bryan is also working with the association on the third phase of its Golf Course Environmental Profile Survey Series, a groundbreaking project to develop a comprehensive environmental profile of golf courses in the United States. He has also served on several important national GCSAA committees, including the Research Proposal Review Committee and BMP Research Task Force Group.
Dr. Unruh has earned accolades from other industry organizations, including Turfgass Producers International’s Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence and the Florida Turfgrass Association’s Wreath of Grass Award and Presidential Award. Unruh is also a fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.
“I am at a loss for words (about winning the President’s Award),” said Bryan. “It reinforces why I get up and do what I do every day.”
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 has been the top professional association for both men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, the association provides education, information and representation to more than 19,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and improve communities through the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit www.GCSAA.org for more information.
The GCSAA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the GCSA. Its mission is to secure funding and support to strengthen advocacy, education and research that advances the work of golf course management professionals.