Kansas, United States: Paul R. Latshaw, who prepared golf courses for nine Major championships over 38 years as a golf course superintendent, elevating the profession through his influence and innovation, will be the recipient of the 2017 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
The award has been presented annually by the GCSAA since 1983 to an individual who, through a lifetime commitment to the game of golf, has helped to mould the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris.
Morris, a four-time British Open winner, was the long-time superintendent at St Andrews in Scotland until his death in 1908.
“I am dumbfounded. I can’t get over the fact that I am getting this award,” said 75-year-old Latshaw, who retired in 2001. “The first thing I thought of was that Nicklaus and Palmer had won this award. Wow!
“I loved what I did; and I think I helped elevate the profession, and I am proud of that. I was a farm boy from central Pennsylvania who became a golf course superintendent. It sure was better than bailing hay and feeding chickens,” he joked.
Some of the past winners include Arnold Palmer, Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Ben Crenshaw, Ken Venturi, Nancy Lopez, Peter Jacobsen and Annika Sorenstam.
Latshaw is the fourth superintendent to receive the award, joining Sherwood Moore (1990), Walter Woods (2002) and GCSAA founder Colonel John Morley (2009).
“He changed our lives,” said Matt Shaffer, his former assistant, good friend and Director of Golf Course Management at Merion Golf Club. “He was always at the front of the line when it came to trying new things in the profession. He was never satisfied with the status quo.”
Shaffer is one of more than 100 former assistants or interns who joined the golf course management profession after learning from Latshaw. Other notables include his son, Paul B. Latshaw, at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, and John Zimmers at Oakmont Country Club.
During his long career, Latshaw worked at Oakmont; Augusta National Golf Club; Wilmington Country Club; Congressional Country Club; Riviera Country Club and Winged Foot Golf Club.
Some of his innovations included rolling greens for firmness, using fans to deliver air circulation and cool greens in the summer, cutting fairway approach areas with walking mowers and recruiting volunteers to help with the work load at Major championships.
Latshaw will receive the award on February 7 at the Opening Session of the Golf Industry Show in Orlando. The Opening Session will be presented in partnership with Syngenta, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“We are indebted to Paul for what he has done for this profession over the past four decades,” said Rhett Evans, Chief Executive Officer of the GCSAA. “He has been a mentor, innovator and promoter for the golf course superintendent. His impact lives on through all the people he has influenced in this profession.”
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