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Gourlay Wins GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador Leadership Award

by Aug 10, 2021 | Kelsey Underwood

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

Matt GourlayLawrence, Kan. (Aug. 10, 2021) Matt Gourlay, CGCS, MG, director of golf course management at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan., has been named the 2021 Q2 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.

“We are grateful for Matt’s ongoing efforts as a representative for the golf course management industry,” GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said. “His dedication to bettering not only his home course at Kansas State University but also golf courses on a national level and the golf industry are deserving of recognition. Congratulations to him for this honor.”

The GAL Award is part of the Grassroots Ambassador program, which matches superintendents with members of Congress to build strong relationships between them. More than 470 GCSAA members currently serve as ambassadors.

An 18-year member of GCSAA, Gourley joined the Grassroots Ambassadors program in the summer of 2015. In his role as an ambassador, Gourlay is currently paired with Congressman Tracey Mann (R-KS) and has been active with multiple members of the Kansas congressional delegation. Gourley has also been recognized by GCSAA as a repeat winner in the association’s Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards.

In 2017, he had the honor of representing the industry as a stop on Sen. Jerry Moran’s annual Conservation Tour, which was a visit full of firsts. Colbert Hills marked the first stop on the statewide journey; after 12 years of holding the tour, it was the first time Moran had included a golf course as one of the sites.

“I was able to lead a presentation that demonstrated the connection between golf course management and agriculture and how our industry benefits the community,” Gourlay said. “Senator Moran described the visit as ‘very enlightening,’ saying, ‘the issues facing farmers and ranchers are very much the same as those facing golf course superintendents.’” Since that visit, Sen. Moran has expressed interest in once again including a Kansas golf course on future conservation tours.

Another ambassador highlight includes providing testimony outlining the environmental stewardship of the industry at a Waters of the United States field hearing held by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2019 in Kansas City.

“Clearly, the Grassroots Ambassador program has allowed me many opportunities to represent the industry and share the countless benefits that golf courses offer their communities and states,” Gourlay said. “I’m thankful not only to be a Grassroots Ambassador but to have such a dedicated group of individuals that make it possible, including my team at Colbert Hills, my family and GCSAA.”