2021 News Releases


GCSAA announces Watson Fellowship Grant winners

by Jan 19, 2021 | Kate Hiebert

Lawrence, Kan. (Jan. 19, 2021) – Ben Pease, Don Wesley Dyer and Jordan Booth are being recognized as the 2020 Watson Fellows with a $5,000 award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The Watson Fellowship is supported by The Toro Company and is awarded by the GCSAA's philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG).

The Watson Fellowship, started in 1998, is named in honor of the late James R. Watson, Ph.D., a pioneer and visionary in turfgrass research and vice president at The Toro Company. The fellowship recognizes students in postgraduate degree programs who have been identified as scientists that will go on to be leaders in turfgrass management.

“The golf course industry depends on turfgrass science to help superintendents manage sustainable, healthy turf,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “We are excited to recognize Ben, Wes, and Jordan with the help of our friends at The Toro Company.”

Pease is a doctoral candidate at Iowa State University whose research is focused on plant stress issues in turfgrass. Dyer is a doctoral candidate at Kansas State University and is working to identify data-driven water conservation methodologies that save water and promote healthy turfgrass. Booth is a doctoral candidate at Virginia Tech, studying winter management strategies for ultradwarf bermudagrass putting greens.

“We hope to continue the legacy of Dr. Watson by encouraging leaders in the application of science to turfgrass management,” said Josh Friell, Ph.D, research scientist at The Toro Company. “By working to research turfgrass management challenges, Ben, Wes and Jordan are helping honor the memory of Dr. Watson by providing important knowledge to advance the industry.”  

Watson was a visionary and a leading authority on turfgrass. He was vice president of customer relations and chief agronomist for The Toro Company. The winner of the USGA Green Section Award in 1976 and the 1977 Agronomic Service Award by the American Society of Agronomy, Watson was named a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America in 1979. He also won the 1991 Harry Gill Memorial Award from the Sports Turf Managers Association; the Old Tom Morris Award, a special GCSAA honor, in 1995; and the Donald Rossi Award from the Golf Course Builders Association of America.

Over the course of five decades at Toro, Watson collaborated with the scientific community and customers, and conducted research on water conservation, the adaptability of turfgrasses, fertilization practices, snow mold prevention techniques for the winter protection of turfgrasses, and more. He authored more than 400 articles on turfgrass management.