2022 News Releases

Elliott Pope earns top award in GCSAA Scholars Competition

by Sep 27, 2022 | Kelsey Underwood


Twenty-three students will receive scholarships for golf/turf management or related fields

Lawrence, Kan. (Sept. 27, 2022) Elliott Pope, a student at Western Kentucky University, is the winner of the Mendenhall Award of $6,000 in the 2022 Scholars Competition offered through the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

The GCSAA Scholars Competition is funded by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment and administered by the GCSAA Foundation. It was developed to recognize outstanding students working toward careers in golf course management or other related areas of the golf course industry.

The scholarships range from $250 to $6,000. Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to turf management, have completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study of the appropriate major and be a member of GCSAA.

From playing mini-golf beginning at age 2 to advancing to par-3 and eventually full-length golf courses as he grew, Pope has had a longstanding passion for the game of golf. When he wasn’t on the course practicing or playing as child, he would spend his free time drawing and designing golf courses. Early on at Cardinal Newman High School in Columbia, S.C., Pope was in an engineering class where he was tasked with researching colleges and universities with engineering programs. His search led him to discover turfgrass management programs, and the more he investigated, it became clear that was the academic path that he wanted to pursue.

Once he realized becoming a golf course superintendent was the profession for him, Pope contacted the superintendent at Columbia Country Club, 18-year GCSAA member Sam Friar, and Pope began working on the grounds crew at Columbia CC when he was a sophomore in high school.

Two weeks into his freshman year at Western Kentucky University, he landed a job at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky. He works at Olde Stone several weekday afternoons and weekends during the school year, and he plans to return to his job at Columbia CC during winter break.

Pope was a member of the 2021-22 WKU men’s golf team and played five events, and he was elected as a Western Kentucky Agriculture Ambassador for the 2022-23 school year. He is also in the WKU Agronomy Club and completed an internship in the summer of 2022 at a golf course under construction called The Tree Farm, near Aiken, S.C. Pope is excited to be a part of WKU’s Turf and Golf Course Management program and to be under the tutelage of Dan Strunk, Ph.D.

“Every day in the classroom and while at work, I am eager to learn as much as possible,” Pope said.”I have been lucky enough to have had some great opportunities working and learning under some amazing people. I believe there is no better job in the world that is a better fit for me than taking care of a golf course. The Mendenhall Award will help me to continue my path toward my goal of becoming a head golf course superintendent.”

The top award of the GCSAA Scholars 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). Along with this award, Pope will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2023 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show, Feb. 6-9, in Orlando.

Other award winners are:

Garrett Taylor, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Pennsylvania State University, Ambassador Award, $2,000

Matthew Dishon, Grosse Ile, Mich., Michigan State University, Scholars Award, $2,500

Connor McBride, Rochester, Mich., Michigan State University, Scholars Award, $2,000

Ross Niewola, Williamsburg, Va., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $2,000

Jonathan Rankin, Ligonier, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $2,000

Colson Bates, Pickering, Ontario, Canada, Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $1,000

Robert Meredith, Pittsburgh, Pa., Delaware Valley University, Scholars Award, $1,000

Brian Edlis, Taylorstown, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $500

Benjamin Grainer, Farmington Hill, Mich., Michigan State University, Merit Award, $500

Matthew Hamel, Bear Creek, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $500

Jacob Irvin, Portage, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $500

Mckenna Murth, Newbury Park, Calif., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $500

Fedja Muzur, Sarajevo, Bosnia, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Merit Award, $500

Alexander Nagy, Livonia, Mich., Michigan State University, Merit Award, $500

William Reece III, Hudson, Wis., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $500

Emma Seward, Zionsville, Ind., Purdue University, Merit Award, $500

Connor Sinks, Manhattan, Kan., Kansas State University, Merit Award, $500

Neil Tighe, Berlin, Conn., University of Connecticut, Merit Award, $500

Drew Coe, Island Lake, Ill., Purdue University, Merit Award, $250

Michael Cook, Rydal, Ga., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $250

Keith Corson, Lewiston, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $250

Grant Tomecek, Naples, Fla., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $250