LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) leaders David Fearis and Paul McGinnis, and longtime Penn State University professor Al Turgeon have been selected to receive the association's 2016 Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award.
The three will be recognized at the 2016 Golf Industry Show, on Feb. 9 during the Opening Session, presented in partnership with Syngenta, at the San Diego Convention Center.
The award is given to individuals who have made an outstanding, substantive and enduring contribution to the advancement of the golf course superintendent profession. The award was renamed in 2009 in honor of Col. John Morley, GCSAA's founder and first president. He was the first to earn the Distinguished Service Award, in 1932, and he received it again in 1940.
"These gentlemen embody what the Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award represents," said GCSAA President John O'Keefe. "They have made significant contributions to the game of golf and have dedicated themselves to the advancement of the superintendent profession through teaching and leadership."
Fearis, 68 and retired, was a golf course superintendent for 29 years, earning the distinguished title of certified golf course superintendent (CGCS). A graduate of Purdue University, he started in the profession as superintendent at the Country Club of Peoria (Ill.), but became totally immersed in his career when he landed the superintendent job at Blue Hills Country Club in a suburb of Kansas City, Mo. "I am honored and flabbergasted to receive this award," said Fearis, who served on the GCSAA board with McGinnis. "It is an extra special honor to be recognized alongside Paul (McGinnis). I was always taught to give back what was given to you, and I hope I have done that. It all has been a very rewarding experience."; Fearis served as a GCSAA board member for eight years and was president of the association in 1999. He has also been active in the Heart of America GCSA, the Central Illinois GCSA, The First Tee of Kansas City, the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation and the Illinois Turfgrass Foundation.
McGinnis, a CGCS and the 64-year-old director of golf course maintenance at Pebble Creek Golf Resort in Pebble Creek, Ariz., has been a GCSAA member for 38 years. He served on the association's board of directors for nine years, including a term as president in 1997. He has also been a three-time president of the Cactus and Pine GCSA.
McGinnis is passionate about the role superintendents play in environmental stewardship. He served on the Governor's Panel for Water Conservation and is currently a Grassroots Ambassador for GCSAA, a program that seeks to link superintendents with a member of Congress to improve communication on behalf of the golf industry.
"Having been on the GCSAA board and knowing first hand what they are looking for makes this really special," said McGinnis. "I am incredibly honored and humbled. I am not sure what I did to deserve this, but I will sure enjoy it. It's a great day when you get that kind of call from the president."
Turgeon, 72, has been educating students in turfgrass management for four decades. After earning his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, he started as head of the agronomy department at Penn State in 1986 and today holds the position of professor emeritus. His teaching career has brought him significant recognition, but none more than being named one of the top 10 contributors in turfgrass science over the past 50 years by the Crop Science Society of America.
In addition, Turgeon received the Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Turfgrass Foundation and was recognized with an Outstanding Teacher award from Penn State. A longtime GCSAA member, he has taught education sessions at the annual Golf Industry Show from 1975 to 2012.
"This award is quite an honor and quite a surprise," said Turgeon, who taught the first education seminar at GIS in 1975, in New Orleans. "It is totally unexpected, but it is nice to be recognized when you have given your life to a profession. It is been a great ride, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I feel I have gained more than I have given to the teaching profession."
The GCSAA Board of Directors selects the winners from nominations submitted by affiliated chapters and/or association members.