Dr. Pat Vittum - 2015
“It’s the Heisman Trophy for the industry, and you see its magnitude when you look at the list of winners before me.” Dr. Patricia J. Vittum
That is Dr. Vittum’s, or, more simply, Pat, as she is well-known across the industry, version of being selected as the 2015 recipient of the USGA Green Section Award. The award has been presented annually since 1961 in recognition of distinguished service to golf through work with turfgrass.
The turfgrass industry has directly benefited from her world-class leadership of a significant research program focused on the biology and management of turfgrass insects and the effectiveness of biological control methods. That research has led the way to better best management practices. To put it more simply, she studies insects that impact golf course turf and finds ways to control them either without chemicals or with the lowest application rates possible, with protection of the environment as a high priority. The end game is better golf course conditions for everyone – except maybe the turf pests.
A western New York native, Pat has been with the University of Massachusetts since 1980 involved in research, teaching, and extension. She is known for her unique ability to be a hands-on researcher who also can take that scientific foundation and effectively translate it into practical management practices for the golf course superintendent. Her enthusiasm for what she does is obvious whether she is providing advice directly to golf course superintendents, developing extension releases for industry professionals, or collaborating with fellow scientists.
Her expertise goes beyond the university setting. She more broadly shared her experience as a principle author on the second edition of the book, Turfgrass Insects of the United States and Canada, long considered the best reference resource on turf entomology. Over the years, she actively coordinated regional grant support for insect issues in the Northeast, particularly the annual bluegrass weevil. She went on to volunteer six years of her time and skills as a member of the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee, helping to direct the research funding.
The USGA will honor Dr. Vittum at the USGA’s Annual Meeting and Service Awards in New York City on February 7, 2015. The Service Awards dinner consolidates the presentation of many of the USGA’s most significant honors into an inspiring event that celebrates the people whose selfless dedication and notable accomplishments have made an important contribution to the USGA and its mission to serve the game.