In celebration of individuals who have given back to the game in extraordinary ways, the United States Golf Association presented its annual Service Awards during a gala dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City during the Association’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, Feb. 7.
“Our honorees have all made significant contributions to the game of golf and the USGA’s commitment to its future,” said Tom O’Toole Jr., USGA president. “We are proud to recognize their contributions with this special evening and to celebrate their efforts during a time when the Association brings the golf community together.”
The USGA’s highest honor, the Bob Jones Award, will be presented to Barbara Nicklaus at a ceremony during the week of the 115th U.S. Open Championship, which will be contested June 18-21, 2015, at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
The following individuals were recognized at the USGA Service Awards Dinner:
Dr. David Cookson, Joe Dey Award
Presented annually since 1996, the Joe Dey Award recognizes an individual’s meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. The award is named for the late Joseph C. Dey Jr., who served as USGA executive director for 35 years (1934-1969) before becoming the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.
This year’s honoree, Dr. David Cookson, is a doctor of internal medicine who has served as a Rules official for nearly 90 USGA championships, including 25 U.S. Opens, and numerous USGA qualifying events. A USGA committee member from 1983 to 2011, he served on the Regional Affairs, Nominating and Senior Amateur Championship committees during his tenure.
Beyond his dedication to the USGA, Cookson has provided extraordinary volunteer service to other organizations. A member of the Wisconsin State Golf Association (WSGA) Board of Directors since 1970, Cookson served as its president in 1977 and 1978. He also served on the Western Golf Association’s Board of Governors from 1977-1998. He was elected to the WSGA Hall of Fame in 2006.
James R. Hansen, Herbert Warren Wind Book Award
Established in 1987, the Herbert Warren Wind Book Award recognizes and honors outstanding contributions to golf literature while seeking to broaden the public’s interest in, and knowledge of, the game of golf. Wind, who died in 2005, was a renowned writer for The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated who coined the phrase “Amen Corner” at Augusta National Golf Club.
James R. Hansen’s A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf, a reflection on the life and career of one of the most prolific and well-respected architects in the history of golf, was this year’s award recipient. Jones designed or redesigned nearly 450 courses in 42 states and 28 countries, including 11 courses that have hosted a combined 34 U.S. Opens. With the help of Jones’ sons, Robert Jr. and Rees, Hansen pieced together the life events and struggles that the British-born Jones encountered on the way to creating his legacy.
Dr. Patricia J. Vittum, Green Section Award
Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished service to the game of golf through his or her work with turfgrass, including research, maintenance and other areas that positively impact the landscape upon which golf is played.
The 2015 recipient was Dr. Patricia J. Vittum, of Amherst, Mass., a professor at the University of Massachusetts’ Stockbridge School of Agriculture. A recognized industry leader, she has conducted significant research on the biology and management of turfgrass insects and the effectiveness of biological-control methods. She is the principal author of the second edition of Turfgrass Insects of the United States and Canada, which is widely regarded as the leading publication on turf entomology.
Ike Grainger Award
Established in 1995 as part of the USGA’s Centennial Celebration, the Ike Grainger Award recognizes those volunteers who reach 25 years of service to the Association. Grainger served on the USGA Executive Committee and served as USGA president in 1954 –and 1955.
This year, 16 individuals earned the award for their distinguished service to the USGA:
Barbara Simmons, Scottsdale, Ariz., Senior Women’s Amateur Championship Committee
Bo Links, San Francisco, Calif., Green Section Committee
Bob J. Thomas, Elmsford, N.Y., Regional Associations Committee
C. Layne Williams, Marietta, Ga., Mid-Amateur Championship Committee
Ed Thaney, Rochester, N.Y., Regional Affairs Committee Senior Amateur Championship Committee
Jay Fox, Little Rock, Ark., Regional Associations Committee
Jerry Pate, Pensacola, Fla., Green Section Committee
John M. Reed, Georgetown, Ky., Mid-Amateur Championship Committee
Judy Thompson, Kent, Wash., Regional Affairs Committee
Merilee M. Giddings, Peachtree City, Ga., Girls’ Junior Championship Committee
Peter C. Blaisdell, Keene, N.H., Green Section Committee
Randy Olmstead, Tulsa, Okla., Mid-Amateur Championship Committee
Renee M. Powell, East Canton, Ohio, Girls’ Junior Championship Committee
Timothy A. Gamso. Dallas, Texas, Mid-Amateur Championship Committee
William A. Westerfeld, Rochester, N.Y., Museum Committee
William Anderson, Charlotte, N.C., Green Section Committee