Here is the third of four profiles on the GCSAA storytellers taking part in today's National Golf Day activities in Washington, D.C., golf course architect Michael Hurdzan, Ph.D.:
Mike Hurdzan, Ph.D., ASGCA
Ph.D., Environmental Plant Physiology, University of Vermont
M.S., Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont
B.S., Turfgrass Management, The Ohio State University
B.S., Landscape Architecture, The Ohio State University (3 of 4 years completed)
National Golf Foundation's Golf Course Management School
Colonel (Ret.), United States Army Reserve, Special Forces Branch
Michael J. Hurdzan, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized authority on golf courses and the environment. In a career spanning nearly fifty years, Dr. Hurdzan has taught countless seminars with his seminar experience perhaps surpassed only by the collection of articles he has written for publications ranging from Golf Digest and National Geographic Traveler to The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. An equally distinguished, 27-year career as an officer in the United States Army Reserve has garnered Dr. Hurdzan many accolades, including his qualification to the elite Special Forces (Green Berets), receipt of the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements” and promotion to the rank of full Colonel and Unit Commander.
- Donald Ross Award, American Society of Golf Course Architects
- Donald A Rossi Award, Golf Course Builders Association of America
- Five Most Powerful Architects, Golf Digest magazine
- College of Life Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Vermont
- Distinguished Alumni Award, The Ohio State University
- Ohio Golf Association Hall of Fame
- Fore Hope: Current Chairman, Board of Directors
- Golf and the Environment: National Steering Committee
- Golf Digest magazine: Environmental Award Panelist
- American Society of Golf Course Architects: Past President; Past Board of Governors; Environmental Impact Committee; Professional Development Committee
In His Words
In the mid-1950s when I started my life in golf as a greenkeeper on a family owned, public golf course where we were commonly using chemicals such as lead, arsenicals, cadmium, DDT, Chlordane, phenoxy weed killers that later became known as “Agent Orange”, and farm fertilizers, in a not-so-accurate fashion. We used those materials out of ignorance, not out contempt for the environment, for no one really had any idea the long-term residual impact that stuff had. In the early 1960s as a turf student, I was exposed to Rachel Carson’s "Silent Spring," and I started to rethink how we were maintaining golf courses, but even when I completed my Ph.D. work in Environmental Plant Physiology, golf courses still had few or no other pest control options to fall back on. As I began to design golf courses I saw more opportunities to intelligently work with nature and allow golf courses to be more in tune with environmental processes and lessen the need for synthetic chemicals and excessive use of water. Today golf courses look better than ever and at the same time are healthy, sustainable environments.
Much of the reason for that dramatic shift is because as GCSAA became better organized and stronger, they created an open, educational network that offered environmental classes to teach Best Management Practices (BMPs) using emerging and innovative products and techniques, as well as instant digital access to other turfgrass managers and experts. Moreover I believe that everyone in the golf course management industry has always been, and continues to be, an environmentalist who sincerely cares for the future health of the land that they are responsible for. With the support of the USGA Green Section, GCSAA and other golf organizations provided a forum where environmentalists and golf course managers could meet, air and share their views, and find common ground that resulted in a set of guiding environmental principles for design, construction and operations that make golf courses healthy and dynamic environments. Those principles are respected worldwide as the foundation for nearly all environmental initiatives, and golf lead the way.