2016 News Releases

Michigan State's Kaczor wins top scholar award from GCSAA

by Mar 06, 2017 | Sarah Huerter
Scholar program awards $25000 to 14 turfgrass management students


Lawrence, Kan. (Aug. 9, 2016) — Ryan Kaczor hasn’t graduated from college yet, but the Michigan State crop and soil science major has already had the chance to work on two of the nation’s famed golf courses, Oakland Hills Country Club and Oakmont Country Club. Kaczor’s impressive lists of internships and 4.0 GPA earned him the top prize of $6,000 in the 2016 Scholars Competition offered through the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

The $25,000 program is primarily funded by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment and administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf, GCSAA's philanthropic organization. It was developed to recognize outstanding students planning careers in golf course management.

“I was shocked (to win), but I am absolutely thrilled,” said Kaczor, who first started working at Highland Hills Golf Course near his hometown of Lake Orion, Mich., while still in high school. “It’s going to help pay for school, and I am extremely honored to win when you think of all the great kids that applied.”

Kaczor interned at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield, Mich., under GCSAA member and certified golf course superintendent Steve Cook in 2014, and he returns this month to help with the U.S. Amateur. Earlier this year, he participated in an internship at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, and was part of the staff for the U.S. Open.

“(Kaczor) shows a willingness to make the sacrifices necessary to become a great superintendent,” Cook said. “I see him as a superintendent that members will love as he is easy to talk to, a leader and a team worker.”

The top award in the Scholar’s Competition is named for the late Chet Mendenhall, who was a charter member of GCSAA, a past president (1948) and recipient of the association’s Distinguished Service Award (1986).

Kevin Heimann of Brunswick, Ohio, who is attending Pennsylvania State University, received the second place award of $5,000. Heimann received the MacCurrach Award, named in honor of the late Allan MacCurrach, who became the PGA Tour’s first staff agronomist in 1974 and was the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award winner in 1997. The PGA Tour funds this award. Kaczor and Heimann will also receive all-expenses-paid trips to the 2017 Golf Industry Show, Feb. 4-9, in Orlando.

Other award-winners are: Jordan Carbone, Ontario, Canada, Georgian College, Ambassador Award, $2,500 Devon Carroll, Thornhurst, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, $2,500 Patrick Rux, Galva, Ill., Kirkwood Community College, $1,500 Timothy LeBlanc Jr., Livonia, Mich., Michigan State University, $1,500 Nicholas Capozzi, Wallingford, Conn., Rutgers University, $1,000 Zachary Olinger, Marion, Iowa, Iowa State University, $1,000 Jacob Shughart, East Hampton, N.Y., Pennsylvania State University, $750 William Elam, Toledo, Ohio, Pennsylvania State University, $750 Joshua Lemons, Fort Washington, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, $750 Brad Wuebker, Saint Joseph, Mich., Rutgers University, $750 Adam Goedde, Dieterich, Ill., Pennsylvania State University, $500 Steven Shavel, Garfield Heights, Ohio, Ohio State University, $500

Winners were selected by the GCSAA Scholars Competition Task Group. Criteria included academic achievement, potential to become a leading industry professional, employment history, extracurricular activities and recommendations from a current academic advisor and a superintendent with whom the student has worked.

Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to golf/turf management and be a GCSAA member. Undergraduate applicants must have successfully completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study in an appropriate major.

For more information on the program, visit the education section of www.gcsaa.org.