Brookfield, Wisconsin, United States: John Lawrence, Director of Strategic Golf for The Toro Company, and friend to scores of golf course architects, has been chosen as the 2022 recipient of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Donald Ross Award.
The award, given annually since 1976, is presented to a person who has made a significant contribution to the game of golf and the profession of golf course architecture.
It will be presented to Lawrence at the ASGCA Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 3 at the Donald Ross Banquet.
Lawrence has spent his entire career working in and around golf, starting with a Toro Distributor for North and South Carolina, EJ Smith and Sons Company.
When the company split, Lawrence stayed with the new company, Smith Turf and Irrigation (STI) which focused on the professional side of the Toro Irrigation Distribution business and led him to develop relationships with golf course superintendents, owners, developers … and architects.
He eventually came to work for The Toro Company when Turf Care Products, another Toro Distributor he led, was sold to Toro in the early 2000s. Lawrence, in his work on the professional side of irrigation, was mentored by Toro’s Dr Jim Watson, who taught him the benefits of working closely with universities with turfgrass programmes, golf course superintendents and golf course architects.
He also learned about the importance of relationship building from another mentor (and 2005 Donald Ross Award honoree), Toro’s John Singleton.
Lawrence’s work with ASGCA members and ASGCA as an entity connects him in unique ways to the profession of golf course architecture. He splits his time at Toro between his strategic golf role and Toro’s Corporate Accounts team, which is responsible for managing many of Toro’s key golf course customers worldwide.
Toro’s business model encourages relationship building, and Lawrence has spent his time over the past two decades travelling from golf project to golf project around the world supporting the work of golf course architects.
“A young architect might view John Lawrence as merely a strategic name to add to their list of contacts. But describing John as ‘a good networking partner’ barely scratches the surface,” said ASGCA President Jason Straka.
“John is the epitome of what the Donald Ross Award was created to honour. He truly has made a significant contribution to the game and the profession because of his ability to find that missing piece to move a project to success, and most importantly to help an architect or friend in need.
“It seems like he knows everyone. More than once I’ve been stuck on a project and a call to John has led to a solution. I’m proud to call him my friend, and I know that’s true for scores of people in this industry. The night we give John the Donald Ross Award is going to be special,” added Straka.
Lawrence has been instrumental in bringing knowledge, networking and support to ASGCA since his hiring by The Toro Company. One of his first ASGCA projects was to bring Toro sponsorship to Remodeling University, an early-2000s ‘short course to a better course’ seminar series conducted nationwide to educate golf course stakeholders on how to plan and execute successful remodels.
The company has also, with Lawrence’s active involvement, organised three educational seminars for ASGCA members (two at Toro headquarters, one at University of Notre Dame), sponsored four international architectural study tours, and, through the Toro Foundation, funded several ASGCA-published books (on environmental development, water, and the ROI of remodelling), and supported ASGCA’ Forward Tee Initiative.
The Donald Ross Award is not the first time ASGCA has recognised Lawrence’s contributions to the organisation and profession. He is also a three-time Presidential Citation winner and was the first non-ASGCA member invited to sit on the ASGCA Foundation Board of Directors.
The Donald Ross Award is presented by the ASGCA Awards Committee, co-chaired by ASGCA Past Presidents Steve Smyers and Rees Jones (the 2013 Donald Ross Award recipient).
Toro is an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.