Green Section Award 

In establishing the Green Section Award, the USGA wishes to honor those persons deserving special recognition for distinguished service to golf through work with turfgrass. Such persons may be involved in any phase of work with turfgrass, i.e., research, extension, superintendence, maintenance, etc.

The USGA believes that there are many such persons who have brought the game immeasurable contributions respecting the arena upon which the game is played. Their contributions and service may be evidenced by their achievements over a number of years or by a single act.

In continuing to present the Green Section Award, the USGA wishes to identify, celebrate and hold up for emulation individuals who exemplify outstanding contribution and dedication to the game of golf through their work with turfgrass. The award is given every year.

Recipients: USGA Green Section Award


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.


UpdatedDernoedenMugGreenSectionAward --- Dr. Peter Dernoeden 

Dr. Peter Dernoeden - 2014

Dr. Peter Dernoeden, Professor emeritus of plant science and landscape architecture at the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources   Dr. Dernoeden, of Milton, Del., led the design and management of turfgrass research programs focusing on weed and disease control, integrated pest management and sustainable fescue species. In 1999, he was responsible for the discovery of a new pathogen and disease that affects creeping bentgrass. His work is widely recognized as having contributed significantly to the quality of turf on golf courses, both regionally and nationally. Dr. Dernoeden has written articles and books on turfgrass management, and served as an advisor to the USGA and to state and regional turfgrass organizations and individual golf facilities. As part of his service to these courses, he and his students analyzed several thousand turfgrass samples supplied by course superintendents


View a video about Dr. Peter Dernoeden


Dr. Victor Gibeault - 2013

Victor A. Gibeault, Ph.D., Cooperative Extension Specialist Emeritus, University of California – Riverside.   Dr. Gibeault provided strong leadership and direction to state and national turfgrass research and extension, and excelled at building partnerships to address important needs of turfgrass managers.  In 1985 he was instrumental in recognizing the importance of water issues in the golf industry, leading to his co-editing the book Turfgrass Water Conservation, which served as a standard for the industry for many years.  He is a skillful listener able to simplify complex issues and build consensus among members of the turfgrass industry.  Dr. Gibeault is a respected leader in the turfgrass industry who holds the US patents for three zoysiagrass cultivars. He served on the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee from1985 – 1997, and was the 1999 recipient of the USGA’s Piper and Oakley Award.


Wayne Hanna - 2012

During his 40-year career as a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and most recently as Professor of Plant Breeding and Genomics at the University of Georgia, he has produced bermudagrasses such as TifSport, TifEagle and TifGrand, all of which are hardier and less costly to maintain, while providing excellent fairway and putting surfaces for the enjoyment of millions of golfers worldwide. Outside of golf, his innovations have provided environmentally friendly grasses ideal for home lawns, public spaces and sports fields, including many college football and NFL stadiums. His help in bermudagrass breeding breakthroughs over the years has resulted in the research center in Tifton (Ga.) to become known as the bermudagrass capital of the world. Among his many career awards and recognitions, he was inducted into the Agricultural Research Service Science Hall of Fame in 2006 and into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2011.


Dennis Lyon - 2011

Lyon serves as the manager of golf for the city of Aurora, Colo. A Colorado State graduate, the 62-year-old Lyon has spent his entire career in the golf industry. Was hired by Aurora Hills Golf Course in 1973 and three years later he rose to manger of golf for the city of Aurora. He currently oversees seven golf courses, including Murphy Creek, which was the site of the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Lyon is also a past president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the first president to represent a municipal facility. He served on the USGA Public Golf Committee and is a current member of the USGA Green Section Committee. He was elected to the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2005.


Dan Potter - 2010

For more than three decades as Professor of Entomology at the University of Kentucky, he has strived with much success to manage insects on golf courses in ways that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. Along the way, he has published more than 150 refereed scientific papers, about 20 invited book chapters and the 1998 textbook "Destructive Turfgrass Insects: Biology, Diagnosis, and Control." He has served as major professor for 34 graduate students and on the advisory committee for about 60 others. Today, his lab is among the world's primary research groups studying urban landscape entomology. An outstanding scientist and esteemed teacher, he has received several distinguished achievement awards from the Entomological Society of America and a number more from the University of Kentucky.


Terry Bonar - 2009

Golf course superintendent at Canterbury Golf Club in Ohio since 1961, where he has worked to set high standards for golf course conditioning through his use of practical agronomic skills. He served as a mentor to many employees over the years through leading by example with an outstanding work ethic. He established an internship program at Canterbury GC that has helped to produce many qualified superintendents and assistant superintendents for golf courses across the country. He has long been viewed as an innovator, from his efficient use of water to provide firm and fast playing surfaces, to being one of the first superintendents to utilize lightweight mowers to maximize turf health and playability. His many accomplishments have had a direct impact on the turfgrass management industry and have proven most beneficial to the game of golf.


Ted Horton - 2008

The executive director of the California Golf Course Owners Association (CGCOA), he became superintendent of the five-time U.S. Open site, Winged Foot G.C. in Mamaroneck, N.Y., in 1967 and served for 12 years. He was then superintendent of Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., for 11 years. He later worked as vice president of a club management company and was vice president for resource management for The Pebble Beach Company.


Dr. Joseph M. Vargas, Jr. - 2007

Professor of plant pathology for more than three decades at Michigan State University where he has been involved in teaching, research, and extension. He has published more than 300 articles on turfgrass diseases and related subjects, and has given more than 1,000 presentations at various turfgrass conferences throughout the world. He is committed to improving the quality of turf on golf courses and his research has contributed greatly to the field of turfgrass science, which has had a direct impact on the game of golf.


Dr. Robert C. Shearman - 2006

Professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is a prominent researcher and educator in the field of turfgrass science and management. He has had a long and distinguished career in several facets of academia - research, teaching, and university administration. The direction he gave to the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program was instrumental in establishing a reliable, effective means to evaluate the performance of many species of turfgrasses for use on golf courses, lawns, parks, sports fields, and other areas.


Peter O. Cookingham - 2005

Project manager of the Turfgrass Information Center (TIC) at Michigan State University, the world's largest collection of turfgrass science and management information. He is the only full-time librarian dedicated to this field, and has spent nearly 20 years building this unique database. He is widely admired and respected by turfgrass scholars and practitioners who routinely turn to him for information gathering assistance.


Monroe S. Miller - 2004

Golf course superintendent at Blackhawk Country Club in Madison, Wis., for 30-plus years. A leader in promoting turfgrass research. He was instrumental in starting the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association, and editor of Grass Roots magazine, The Wisconsin GCSA bi-monthly publication for 25-plus years.


Dr. Houston Couch - 2003

A professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA since 1965, he has directly benefited the turf industry and golf course managers. He is an author and scientist, and a sought-after speaker who has lectured to more than 500 industry conferences in 28 states and international countries. He is listed among Who's Who in America and American Men of Science and has received numerous awards for his work. He was one of the first university turfgrass pathologists in the country, and his comprehensive textbook on turfgrass diseases in 1962 has been reprinted in two later editions and is widely used in the industry.


George B. Thompson - 2002

A quiet, unassuming man, he is known throughout the industry as the consummate dedicated professional. As a golf course superintendent for 36+ years, he focused his attention on the golf course as he took pleasure in the tasks required to improve the course each day. And just as important, he developed the admirable quality of sharing his experience and knowledge with others, and teaching them the requisite skills for becoming successful golf course superintendents.


Dr. Patricia A Cobb - 2001

Dedicated teacher and turfgrass insect specialist who has the unique ability to share her extensive scientific expertise and wisdom in a manner that is understandable and practical. A noted author who has published more than 45 extension publications, written more than 44 trade journal articles and 22 research reports. She has served as a challenging mentor and excellent role model for many in the turfgrass industry.


L. Palmer Maples, Jr. - 2000

Long-time golf course superintendent in Georgia who also filled a significant education role in the industry. Former president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and also worked as their director of education for four years.


Dr. Noel Jackson - 1999

Distinguished teacher, researcher, and extension specialist from the University of Rhode Island. First plant pathologist to receive the award as well as the first recipient to be born, raised, and educated outside the United States. Renowned for his knowledge of cool-season turfgrass diseases and for his expertise as a turf diagnostician.


B.J. Johnson - 1998

Longtime professor at the University of Georgia. Most eminent weed scientist in the world related to golf turf. His research to define the role of plant growth regulators in warm-season grasses resulted in significant beneficial and cost-saving information for golf courses around the world.


Dr. Paul E. Rieke - 1997

Researcher, teacher, and state turfgrass extension specialist at Michigan State University for 40 years. Instrumental in establishing the Robert W. Hanncock Turfgrass Center at Michigan State. Conducted studies concerning advanced technologies for soil and tissue testing, and crucial work in the practice of water injection.


Robert M. Williams - 1996

Former president of the GCSAA. Designed and constructed one of the first customized, automatic irrigation systems. Formulated one of the first three-nozzle, tractor-mounted boom sprayers for golf courses.


David C. Stone - 1995

Superintendent at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.. Established the first zoysiagrass fairways in the Southeast region. Experimented with herbicides to control bermudagrass in zoysiagrass in 1988, which led to Fusilade being labeled for this use on turfgrass.


Dr. Kenyon T. Payne - 1994

Chairman of the Department of Crop Science at Michigan State University.
Assisted in the development of leaf-spot-resistant fine fescue cultivars. Instrumental in the organization of the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation.


Dr. Ralph E. Engel - 1993

Teacher, researcher, and extension specialist. Instrumental in the development of misting as an aid in turfgrass survival during high-temperature stress periods. Instrumental in collecting the first turf-type perennial ryegrass.


Dr. C. Richard Skogley - 1992

Active in turfgrass management programs at the university level for nearly 40 years. As a researcher, produced several important turfgrass cultivars, including Providence creeping bentgrass, Jamestown and Jamestown II chewings fescue, Georgetown Kentucky bluegrass, among others. Involved in developing cultural maintenance practices that have been widely adopted on golf courses throughout New England.


Dr. Joseph C. Troll - 1991

Renowned educator of golf course superintendents and other turfgrass specialists. Involved in the education of more than a thousand students. Worked on turfgrass variety and management studies.


Chester Mendenhall - 1990

Helped to build the GCSAA into a national organization. Was instrumental in helping to establish a solid working relationship between the GCSAA and the USGA Green Section. Instrumental in the planning of an experimental pie green at Ford Park in Kansas City.


Dr. James B. Beard - 1989

Internationally recognized turfgrass researcher and educator. Author of Turf Management for Golf Courses. His research on evapotranspiration, winter injury, wear stress, and shade effects on turfgrass were pioneering efforts in these fields and helped establish the scientific basis for many of the turfgrass cultural programs.


Dr. Roy L. Goss - 1988

One of the most prolific contributors of new knowledge in the turfgrass industry in the past three decades. A Turfgrass Extension Specialist for Washington State University for more than three decades. Past editor and chief writer for the publication Northwest Turfgrass Topics.


Sherwood A. Moore - 1987

Pioneered fairway contour mowing and using triplex green mowers on fairways. Was responsible for preparing Winged Foot Golf Club for three USGA championships. President of both the New Jersey GCSA, the New York Metropolitan GCSA, and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.


James B. 'Monty' Moncrief - 1986

Former director of the Green Section's Southeastern Region. Discovered Tifdwarf bermudagrass, the finest-leafed bermudagrass available.


Dr. Victor B. Youngner - 1985

Pioneer in investigating Poa annua variations and selections. Received much attention and interest in his 1983 research on the USGA Golf Shoe Study II. Developed Santa Ana bermudagrass and El Toro zoysiagrass.


Dr. William H. Daniel - 1984

Renowned educator at Purdue University. Inventor of Prescription Athletic Turf, (PAT) systems. Introduced Sodco bluegrass, Evansville bentgrass and Midwest zoysiagrass.


Alexander M. Radko - 1983

Former national director of the USGA Green Section. Primary editor of Turf Management for Golf Courses, by Dr. James B. Beard, published in 1982. Built the putting green on the White House lawn as a gift from the USGA to President Eisenhower.


Charles G. Wilson - 1982

Pioneer of the Green Section regional Turfgrass Advisory Service, started in 1953. Was the first full-time turfgrass consultant in the field. Research director of the O.J. Noer Foundation.


Dr. Joseph M. Duich - 1981

Researcher and educator at Penn State University. Directed Penn State's Turfgrass Winter Course Program. Among his many turfgrass breeding contributions are the varieties Pennstar Kentucky bluegrass, Pennfine perennial ryegrass, and Penneagle creeping bentgrass.


Dr. C. Reed Funk - 1980

Developed first hybrid Kentucky bluegrass as research professor at Rutgers University. Developed first turf-type cultivar of perennial ryegrass. Spearheaded testing, selection, and breeding project that produced improved bluegrasses, fescues and ryegrasses. Developed first turf-type Poa trivialis.


Arthur A. Snyder - 1979

Superintendent from 1927 to 1974. Helped develop the turfgrass research program at Penn State University. Discovered a bermudagrass cultivar that is widely used on Southwestern golf courses. Instrumental in founding Arizona Cactus Turfgrass Council.


Dr. Jesse De France - 1978

Educator and researcher from 1925 through 1960, including a 24-year period in charge of research at the University of Rhode Island. Developed grasses and mixtures for lawns and golf courses. Advocated descending ratio fertilizers for turf areas.


Edward J. Casey - 1977

Pioneer on golf course care. Superintendent at Baltusrol Golf Club for 22 years. Prepared Baltusrol for four major USGA championships. Active in turfgrass associations. Set an example of excellence in the field of turfgrass management.


Dr. James R. Watson - 1976

Conducted research on grasses and fertilizers, snowmold prevention, and covers of various types for winter protection of putting greens. Instrumental in organizing the First International Turfgrass Research Conference, 1969, in Harrogate, England.


Dr. Fanny-Fern Davis - 1975

From 1943 to 1945 served as Acting Director of the USGA Green Section. Conducted experiments with 2, 4-D which became widely used in broad-leaf weed control. In charge of turfgrass research tests in Beltsville, Maryland during World War II.


Dr. Howard B. Sprague - 1974

Educator and researcher in nutrition and pH as they pertain to fine turf management. Pioneer in the study of Poa annua. Instrumental in establishing a strong turfgrass program at Rutgers University.


Dr. Marvin H. Ferguson - 1973

Served the USGA Green Section during three periods from 1940 to 1968. Involved in early Green Section research. Primarily responsible for the development of Green Section Specifications for Putting Green Construction, first released in 1960. Authored numerous articles for scientific journals and magazines.


Herb and Joe Graffis - 1972

In 1927 founded and published Golfdom. Encouraged the testing of turf products in experimental plots throughout the United States. Founded the National Golf Foundation. Prolific writers in golf and the turfgrass industry.


Tom Mascaro - 1971

Developed and produced the first practical aerifier for greens and fairways with West Point Industries. Introduced a vertical mower to control grain and thatch on greens. Assisted and supported many state university turfgrass programs.


Eberhand R. Steiniger - 1970

Superintendent of Pine Valley Golf club, Clemeton, New Jersey, for 47 years. Maintained a ten-acre research area. Instrumental in selecting Cohansey C-7 creeping bentgrass, a putting green cultivar.


Dr. Fred V. Grau - 1969

Instrumental in getting turfgrass recognized by the American Society of Agronomy as a major agricultural industry. Associated with development and release of improved turfgrasses: Merion bluegrass, Meyer zoysiagrass, U-3 bermudagrass and select strains of creeping bentgrass.


James L. Haines - 1968

Pioneer in greenkeeping during a distinguished career of 40 years at Denver Country Club, Denver, Colorado. Was directly responsible for formation of the Rocky Mountain GCSA. Developed a tree root pruner and leaf rake for golf course use.


Elmer J. Michael - 1967

A leader in the field of greenkeeping at Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York. Distinguished career included golf course construction, design, maintenance and management. Encouraged and trained several present-day golf course superintendents.


Dr. H. Burton Musser - 1966

Researcher and educator at Penn State University; developed turfgrass program for students. Encouraged and developed several present-day turfgrass leaders. Authored Turfgrass Management, sponsored by the USGA, first published in 1950.


Dr. Glenn W. Burton - 1965

World renowned geneticist at Georgia Coastal Agricultural Extension Station in Tifton. Through selection and breeding, developed the Tifton series of bermudagrass, including Tifdwarf, Tifgreen, Tifway and Tiflawn.


Joseph Valentine - 1964

Premier superintendent and pioneer in the field of greenkeeping. During 54 years at Merion Golf Club, he set an example of excellence in golf course maintenance. Discovered Merion bluegrass, the first improved Kentucky bluegrass.


O.J. Noer - 1963

Premier extension scientist in golf course maintenance and management. Traveled widely to render personal assistance to golf course superintendents. Agronomist and soil scientist, Milwaukee Sewerage Commission.


Dr. Lawrence S. Dickinson - 1962

Pioneer educator. Established the first curriculum in turfgrass management at the Stockbridge Winter School at the University of Massachusetts. First to teach golf course maintenance and management.


Dr. John Monteith, Jr. - 1961

Pioneer researcher. Developed the first effective fungicides for major turfgrass diseases. Directed extensive experimental work on grasses, diseases, weed control, fertilizers, soils and irrigation on turfgrasses. Former Green Section Director.

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