The Fab Four? Indeed.
Four men have been chosen as recipients of the 2013 GCSAA Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award. They are: Ken Mangum, CGCS; Frank Lamphier; Dennis Lyon, CGCS, and Roch Gaussoin, Ph.D.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually 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 Morley, GCSAA’s founder and first president.
If Lamphier had not demonstrated such dedication to the GCSAA National Championship & Golf Classic, the annual event may have ended years ago.
“He loved that golf tournament,” says Ken Braun, who worked for two decades on the tournament committee starting 40 years ago. “He may have saved it.”
That’s no lie.
In 1968, when America was consumed by Vietnam and Richard Nixon became president, Lamphier accepted his own challenge. The task was to resurrect the GCSAA National Championship & Golf Classic. Originally known as the National Greenkeeping Superintendents Tournament, the first event was held in 1938. It was interrupted from 1942 to 1945 by World War II, resumed from 1946 through 1952, and then was held intermittently until 1963.
From 1964 to 1967, however, there was no tournament.
“We just kind of let it drop,” says Lamphier, 78, who for years was the golf course superintendent at Aspetuck Valley Country Club in Bethel, Conn. “A group of us wanted to restore it. It came down to who was going to run it. If you’re going to be involved in an association like GCSAA, you should really become part of it. So, me and my big mouth, got the thing going again.”
After all, here is a man whose course was the site of the PGA Championship in 2011 and in 2001. His decision to shift to all warm-season grasses, including Champion Ultradwarf greens, Tifton 10 bermudagrass rough and Diamond zoysia fairways, proved to be revolutionary and trendy, setting the tone and the example for other southern golf facilities.
Mangum, 59, also logs lots of frequent flier miles as a guest speaker here and abroad, sharing his wealth of knowledge with others in the industry. When he speaks, people listen — and he has a way of making them feel at ease, as if they are the only ones in the room with him.
“Ken shares his knowledge with so many people,” architect Rees Jones says. “He’s always trying to be ahead of the curve. He is highly respected and well liked. He has always done the research, was always studying, testing, trying to learn a better way. He knows his business, yet he knows it’s not a perfect world when you are dealing with the environment.”
He may not know this, but Lyon shaped more than just the golf industry in Colorado.
Lyon shaped lives, too.
“He is one of the best role models that I try to live by,” says Ed Mate, executive director for the Colorado Golf Association (CGA). “He treats everybody the same, whether it is the mayor or the part-time irrigation tech. He knows them by name. It’s the examples he sets, the respect he commands, that I admire.”
The list of admirable achievements for Lyon, 64, is lengthy. In 1989 he became the first GCSAA president from the municipal sector of his profession, offering the municipal golf course’s perspective of the industry. His presence in those days helped transform the superintendent from being more than just a golf course employee; he acted as a representative for them in the boardroom.
“I think I have a servant’s heart to some degree,” Lyon says.
In his early years, Lyon served his country Germany as part of a two-year ROTC commitment, becoming a first lieutenant, and eventually a major in the reserves. He spent 18 years on the Board of Governors for the CGA and was president of the state association in 2002 and 2003. He managed the city of Aurora, Colo., golf program for almost four decades and in 2005 was elected into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
Lyon, recipient of the 2011 USGA Green Section Award, says he isn’t anything special, even if others beg to differ.
“I’m just an average guy,” Lyon says.
Sounds like the name of somebody who travels from city to city, crossing continents, attracting hordes of people to hear what he has to offer when he takes the stage.
Gaussoin — Doc Roc — certainly is a rock star in his profession. You don’t earn recognition like the Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Award for career contributions, joining previous heavyweight recipients such as Jim Watson, Paul Rieke and Jim Beard, by simply setting your dial on cruise control.
Gaussoin, 55, has accelerated in the fast lane of turfgrass management, doing everything in his power to ensure superintendents go along for the ride.
“Roch is a unique person in that he has a keen ability to relate to the industry, is sharp at picking up on problems that need to be addressed, and he can resolve that problem and get it out into the industry in a way it can use it,” says turfgrass scientist Bob Shearman. “Just look at what he has done in his innovative approaches to get information to golf course superintendents. His leadership has had a marked influence.”
More than 25 years ago, Gaussoin aided New Mexico turfgrass legend Arden Baltensperger in developing NuMex Sahara, a seed-propagated bermudagrass, with funding from the USGA.
Connecting with students is one of Gaussoin’s strong suits. He helped undergraduates at Nebraska form a student GCSAA chapter and then stayed on as their advisor for more than 10 years. When he received the designation of Fellow in the Crop Society of America, the highest award given to a member of that society, it simply was another signal that Gaussoin is a mover and shaker, even though he doesn’t necessarily view himself as a big deal.
“I just did what I thought … superintendents needed in terms of research and education,” says Gaussoin, who in 2012 wrote a bi-monthly column titled “Roch report” for GCM. “Nothing earthshaking other than listening to the needs of superintendents, seeing what they thought was important, getting a consensus from them. I spent as much time listening as doing.
Read more about these DSA recipients in the February issue of GCM.