This award supports outstanding non-traditional students pursuing a career in golf course and turf management
Lawrence, Kan. (Sept. 26, 2023) – Nancy Cienfuegos, student at Rutgers University and assistant superintendent at Whitetail Club in McCall, Idaho, is the winner of the 2023 Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award of $10,000 from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) through the GCSAA Foundation.
Previously part of the GCSAA Scholars Competition, the Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award was revamped in 2021 as a stand-alone award to recognize an outstanding non-traditional student seeking a career in the field of golf course and turfgrass management. Applicants needed to be majoring in a field related to golf course management, planning a career as a superintendent or related profession, be 23 years of age or older and be a GCSAA member to be eligible.
The Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award is funded by Allan MacCurrach III and the PGA Tour. It is named in honor of the late Allan MacCurrach Jr., who became the PGA Tour’s first staff agronomist in 1974 and was the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award winner in 1994. He was a member of GCSAA for 31 years and was one of the first to become a certified golf course superintendent.
MacCurrach Jr. found his passion for turf after he had a wife, a child and another degree in accounting, and he lived the struggle of trying to obtain a second degree with a full plate of existing responsibilities. His unconventional professional path ultimately became the driving force behind establishing the Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award to help others on similar career paths.
“There are plenty of scholarships available for young individuals interested in turfgrass management, but with the Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award, we want our focus to be on the ‘non-traditional’ type of individual, especially underrepresented people in our industry,” said Allan MacCurrach III, founder and owner of MacCurrach Golf Construction.
Cienfuegos was introduced to the industry by her father, and following in her father’s footsteps had always been her plan. Watching her father and brother work at Whitetail Club in McCall, Idaho, has been her biggest source of inspiration. Seeing them advance to a mechanic and an irrigation technician, respectively, provided her the motivation to keep reaching toward her own professional goals.
“My father and brother have taught me everything they know and having them as mentors and having supportive superintendents helped me realize the love and passion I have for this industry,” Cienfuegos said. “Having the support of my family and continuing to learn new things from them makes me even more passionate about what I can accomplish in this industry.”
After graduating from high school in 2016, Cienfuegos joined the housekeeping staff at Shore Lodge in McCall, Idaho, and she quickly became the go-to person for completing tasks promptly. Her bilingual skills served her and the housekeeping team well, helping them effectively communicate with other departments. Wanting more for herself, she enrolled at the College of Western Idaho, where she obtained her general education certificate while also completing the Boise State University Intensive English Program. In 2017, she began her career at Whitetail Club as a member of the housekeeping staff before switching to the golf course maintenance team, where she has worked her way up to assistant golf course superintendent.
In 2022, Cienfuegos had the opportunity to volunteer with the Women in Turfgrass team for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles, where she met many women superintendents who quickly became another source of inspiration for her to further her professional goals.
“Their stories made me realize that it was time for me to take a step further in my own career,” she said. “I want to continue to learn and grow and become the first in my family to obtain a degree. But most importantly, I want to be an inspiration to young girls and to Hispanic people and show them that you can accomplish everything you set your mind to.”
Now, Cienfuegos is continuing her education and will begin the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School’s Two-Year Certificate Program this winter. She remains involved with the Women in Turfgrass team serving as a board member.