Payton Perkinson Wins Top Award in GCSAA Scholars Competition

by Sep 07, 2021 | Kelsey Underwood

Eleven students will receive merit-based scholarships for golf/turf management or related fields

Peyton Perkinson of Michigan State is the recipient of the Mendenhall Award of $6,000.Lawrence, Kan. (Sept. 7, 2021) Payton Perkinson, a student at Michigan State University, is the winner of the Mendenhall Award of $6,000 in the 2021 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 $500 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.

As a senior at Buffalo Grove High school in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Perkinson discovered the turfgrass management industry and realized this would be her ideal career path—combining her love for sports and joy of spending time outdoors. In fact, every Tuesday in the summer during high school, Perkinson could be found at her local golf course playing a round with her dad.

She enrolled at Michigan State University (MSU) in the fall of 2018, pursing a bachelor’s degree in crop and soil sciences in the turfgrass management program, with a minor in horticulture. While at Michigan State, she helped plan a diversity and inclusion workshop for students in the plant, soil and microbial science department; she has also participated in the Student Greenhouse Project, a registered student organization and 501 (c)(3) federally recognized charity.

Perkinson began her first golf course job in May of 2019 at River Forest Country Club in Elmhurst, Ill., where she learned the daily maintenance practices of a golf course. At the end of the season, her dedication culminated in her being awarded Employee of the Year by the management team.

In May 2020, she began an internship at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. At the end of the summer, she was recognized for her work ethic and agronomic knowledge with the Intern of the Year award. She returned to Oakmont Country Club for the summer 2021 season and was fortunate to be able to help the club prepare for the 2021 U.S. Amateur.

In 2021, she was also a member of MSU’s Turf Bowl Competition team, which placed sixth. Additionally, she was a recipient of the Michigan GCSA Student Scholarship and the winner of MSU’s Norman W. Kramer Scholar Award, which was presented by the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation.

“No matter if I am in the classroom or on the golf course, I have the desire to learn and work hard every day to help me achieve my goal of becoming a golf course superintendent,” said Payton Perkinson. “Although this is a challenging and demanding field, the end product of a beautiful and playable golf course always makes the hard work worth it.”

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, Perkinson will also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show, Feb. 5-10, in San Diego.

Other award winners are:

Ryan Trudeau, Montreal, Québec, Canada, Pennsylvania State University, Ambassador Award, $2,500

Spencer Cole, Grant, Mich., Michigan State University, Scholars Award, $3,000

Cole McClurg, Libertyville, Ill., University of Nebraska, Scholars Award, $2,500

Brendan Stuchell, Union City, Mich., Michigan State University, Scholars Award, $2,500

Payton Kvistad, Wood Lake, Minn., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $2,000

Michael Sheehan, West Chester, Pa., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $2,000

Harrison Shomaker, Highlands, N.C., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $1,500

Jacob Williams, Wilmington, Del., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $1,500

John Dempsey, Brewster, N.Y., Pennsylvania State University, Scholars Award, $1,000

Nicholas Sterlace, Lake View, N.Y., Pennsylvania State University, Merit Award, $500