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Salter wins GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador Leadership Award

by May 25, 2021 | Mike Strauss

Golf course superintendent honored for advocacy efforts, advancement of association priority issues and congressional outreach

PJ Salter, certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) and director of agronomy at  Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Fla., has been named a Grassroots Ambassador Leadership Award winner Lawrence, Kan. (May 26, 2021) – PJ Salter, certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) and director of agronomy at  Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Fla., has been named a Grassroots Ambassador Leadership Award winner from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

The Grassroots Ambassador Leadership Award, presented quarterly in partnership with The Toro Co., recognizes and honors individuals who have demonstrated growth in advocacy and advancement of the GCSAA Priority Issues Agenda through congressional outreach and relationship development with a member of Congress. Through Toro, the winners will receive a trip to take part in the 2022 National Golf Day in Washington, D.C.

“Congratulations to PJ for his hard work and dedication,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “He is a vocal advocate for the Florida golf industry.”

The GAL Award is part of the GCSAA Grassroots Ambassadors program, which pairs superintendents with members of Congress to build strong relationships between them. More than 471 GCSAA members currently serve as ambassadors.

In addition to his 16 years as a GCSAA member, Salter’s path to advocating came for the game originated with advocacy on a more personal level. In 2017 he became the father to twin girls, Collette and Persephone. Persephone, whose nickname is Persi, was born with Axenfeld-Riger syndrome, which required more than 12 operations in her first two years of life and for Salter and his wife to frequently need to speak out on Persi’s behalf. They even created the Persephone Mae Foundation with the goal of helping children with rare syndromes and visual impairments. In 2019 they hosted the 1st Annual Persephone Mae Classic and raised more than $65,000 thanks largely to the support of local superintendents and others in the golf industry. Fortunately, Persi is now thriving.

Due to the humble nature that is characteristic of many a superintendent, many don’t do enough to promote what we do as stewards of the environment. We should be resources of environmental leadership for our local politicians to look to for counsel,” Salter said. “What Persi has taught me about life is that it is okay to question authority, and that we need to advocate for what we believe in.”

Salter was originally paired with former Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL-27). Shalala’s one term in Congress ended in January, and she had previously been United States Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. Salter was able to connect with Shalala and her staff, and one of her top aides came and met with Salter at Riviera CC where they discussed what superintendents do for the environment and the labor issues facing superintendents in Florida. He is now paired with Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL-27), who took office earlier this year.

He has also been a voice for superintendents with lawmakers in the Miami area.

“As an ambassador, I’ve had the honor of testifying at my local city commission meetings, dispelling myths and speaking truths about how we as superintendents are responsible users of fertilizers and pesticides and the tremendous environmental benefits that healthy, well-maintained turfgrass provides, especially in urban environments,” Salter said.