The turfgrass industry is mourning the recent loss of two iconic figures.
Dr. James Watson, who spent 46 years at The Toro Company and spearheaded significant turf and water management research, died Tuesday. He was 92. Charles G. Wilson, who pioneered the USGA Green Section, died Sept. 23. He was 93.
Watson received GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award in 1983 and the Old Tom Morris Award in 1995.
"Both of these men were advocates of the superintendents," Palmer Maples, CGCS Retired and GCSAA president in 1975, told GCM today. "They were always trying to find something better, a product or use of it, that would enhance the superintendent's job so they could provide a good golf course for the membership."
"He's not only a legend; he's a pioneer," Gene Haas, former executive director of the Wisconsin State Golf Association tells GCM. "He was a Godsend to us. I learned so much from him by just listening. He was so convincing about what he was doing."
Watson joined Toro in 1952 and became its director of agronomy. Watson was a member of the USGA's Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee for three decades. Today, Toro provides funding through the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG) for the James R. Watson Fellowship Program that awards grants to three students who are candidates for master's or doctoral degrees in fields related to golf course management.
"Jim was a really good friend," Maples says. "He gave many, many talks at our local turf conferences. When we (GCSAA) had our 50th anniversary at Sylvania Country Club (in Sylvania, Ohio, where GCSAA began), they brought out an old Toro mower and we kidded Jim that he was older than the mower."
Read more about these two giants of the industry in the November issue of GCM.