Remembering The Past And Planning For The Future September 20, 2019

Anyone who works in the golf industry knows that change is a part of our business. As the USGA Green Section prepares to celebrate 100 years of helping golf facilities in 2020, we are also preparing to see members of the Green Section family that have worked with us for decades retire from the USGA in the autumn of 2019. These people have played key roles in making the Green Section what it is today, and their impact on the game has been tremendous. We know that many of you have worked closely with the staff leaving the USGA and join us in wishing them all the best in their next chapters.

Departing staff will not be the only change on the horizon for the Green Section. A new agronomist will be hired in our West region along with a research position in the coming months as we continue our long tradition of supporting turfgrass and environmental research for the golf industry. These new staff members certainly have big shoes to fill, but we know they will be up for the challenge. The Green Section will also merge with the USGA's Research, Science and Innovation Group, led by Dr. Matthew Pringle. He has spearheaded the RSI group since its formation in 2016 and has played a key role in the USGA’s pace of play and resource management tool efforts. Since starting with the USGA in 2000, Matt has been, and will continue to be an advocate for science and committed to the role that science plays in pushing the game forward. We know he will be a great leader and advocate for the Green Section’s work into the future.

While a lot of change is occurring in a short period of time, there are some things that are definitely not changing. The Green Section remains committed to providing science-based information and recommendations to golf facilities and golfers. The Green Section staff are here to help solve problems at individual facilities – both the challenges of today and those on the horizon. While the agronomists working with some of you may be changing, you will still receive the same high level of expertise and the same commitment to understanding the issues at your facility and developing solutions that fit your specific needs. The Green Section research program and education and outreach efforts will also continue playing their key roles.

As we look to the future, with a new team and some exciting new projects on the horizon, we also want to reflect on the careers of those who will retire and thank them once again for all they've done for the Green Section, for the USGA, and for golf.


Northeast Region

David Oatis, director of the Northeast Region, who joined the staff in 1989, will depart this fall. Jim Skorulski, the agronomist who worked with golf facilities across New England and Canada departed the staff in June. Dave and Jim helped facilities in Northeast solve problems related to everything from trees, to traffic, to promoting stronger turf types. Golf facilities in the Northeast Region will be ably served with expert advice from Agronomists Elliott Dowling and Paul Jacobs. In addition, Adam Moeller, who directs the Green Section education and outreach program, will continue to dedicate a portion of his time to course consulting.


Southeast Region

The longest-tenured member of the USGA staff and a Green Section agronomist since 1979, Patrick O’Brien ends his USGA career in September. Patrick’s agronomic knowledge provided critical information to the Southeast Region as he combined sound agronomic recommendations with practical best management practices for golf courses across the economic spectrum. Shelly Foy, a familiar, helpful voice to all who called the Southeast Region office since 1988 retired in April. The Southeast Region pushes forward with excellent support from Agronomists Dr. Steve Kammerer and Addison Barden. Chris Hartwiger will continue consulting with Southeast Region golf facilities while serving in his current role as director of the USGA Course Consulting Service.


West Region

Pat Gross, director of the West Region, departs in October. Pat joined the West Region staff in 1991 and was named director of the region in 1998. His leadership helped guide the critical discussion on golf’s use of water, particularly in the southwestern United States. Larry Gilhuly leaves the Green Section at the end of September after a versatile 36-year USGA career that began in 1983. Denise Covell, a veteran business coordinator in the Southern California office, departed in April. The West Region will continue to benefit from the expertise of Agronomist Brian Whitlark. Soon he will be joined by a new agronomist who will be based in Southern California or the Pacific Northwest.


Central Region

The Central Region has long benefitted from the agronomic knowledge of Bob Vavrek. He joined the staff in 1990 and was named director of the region in 2015. Both he and Karen White, business coordinator for the region since 2002, depart this fall. Agronomists Zach Nicoludis and John Daniels will continue to provide course consulting services to golf facilities across the Central Region.


Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program

Dr. Mike Kenna, who has expertly led the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program since 1990, will depart in October. Working with universities across North America, his broad research knowledge and long-range vision guided the research program through the development of many new grasses and best management practices for the industry. His replacement is in the process of being determined. The program will continue to be assisted through the efforts of Assistant Research Director Dr. Cole Thompson.


Managing Director

Dr. Kimberly Erusha, Managing Director of the Green Section, leaves the USGA at the end of September. She started with the Green Section in 1990, and has led the team to great success, and through many challenges, since becoming managing director in 2010. She has had a tremendous impact on the golf industry in her time with the Green Section.


The Green Section Continues On

Building on our 99-year history, the golf industry will continue to be well served by the dedicated efforts of the USGA Green Section staff. The mission is alive and well to develop and disseminate sustainable management practices that produce better playing conditions for better golf. The synergy of the Green Section and RSI teams provides new opportunities and even greater support for golf facilities as we develop products and services that help them remain enjoyable to play, environmentally responsible and economically viable.