When UCONN’s Club Sports Department constructed two new fields on campus to support their diverse sporting activities they looked to Dr. Jason Henderson Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Management for guidance on field maintenance. High quality fields capable of withstanding a demanding mixed-use game schedule were needed. An opportunity arose for a UCONN turf student to work with the Club Sports Department to oversee the maintenance of these fields. Brian Tencza, a graduate student working with Dr. Henderson, was selected to manage the 4.5 acre facility. Tencza, graduated from UCONN in 2009 with a degree in Turfgrass and Soil Sciences, and is now pursuing a masters degree in addition to managing the athletic grounds. Tencza took over the fields in mid-June and needed them ready to host a number of fall athletic events including men’s and women’s soccer, rugby, and lacrosse. At that time the fields were far from game ready. Turf density was low, weeds were numerous, and the irrigation system was in poor condition. However by mid-August, Tencza and his limited crew of undergraduate turf students had dramatically improved the field conditions. The transformation of the fields has been documented by photos taken from the ground as well as in the air; since in his free time Tencza logs hours flying in pursuit of his pilot’s license. Due to Tencza’s efforts, turf performance through the first part of the season has been a huge success. His experience managing the athletic fields has been a rewarding opportunity to apply his classroom knowledge to improve and maintain athletic field conditions for his fellow Huskies.
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has awarded scholarship money to 16 college students as part of the Scholars Program administered by the GCSAA's philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf.
The first-place winner, David Golembeski, will receive a $6,000 scholarship as the Mendenhall Award Winner. The second-place winner, William Overly, receives a $5,000 award and is designated as the recipient of the MacCurrach Award. The MacCurrach Award is funded by the PGA Tour.
Golembeski, of New Milford, Conn., is a senior majoring in turfgrass and soil science at the University of Connecticut. Overly, who hails from Louisburg, Kan., is a senior majoring in golf course management at Kansas State University. Both of them will also receive an all-expense-paid trip to the GCSAA Education Conference (January 28-February 2) and Golf Industry Show (January 31-February 2) in Orlando.
Shane Brockhoff (Iowa State), Carole Townsend (Lake City Community College), Chris Parsons (Michigan State), Ian Gallagher (Ohio State), Meghyn Stalcup (Tarleton State), Gregory Caldwell (Virginia Tech), Christopher Skvir (Rutgers), Tyler Wenger (Michigan State), Jonathan Chase Webb (Florida) and Nathaniel Watkin (Lake City Community College) were each awarded stipends ranging from $1,250 to $2,500.
Richard Gillispie (Maryland) and Jon Cancel (California State Polytechnic-Pomona) won $500 each as Merit Winners. Luis M. Casado and Roque Buendia-Perez, international students at Michigan State, were both awarded $2,000 Ambassador Scholarships by GCSAA.
The GCSAA Scholars Program, funded by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment, was developed to recognize outstanding students planning careers in golf course management. Winners were selected to receive scholarship awards based on the final ranking in a competition judged by GCSAA's Scholarship Committee that factors academic achievement, potential to become a leading professional, employment history, extracurricular activities, the recommendation of a superintendent with whom the student has worked, and a current academic advisor.
Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to golf/turf management and be a GCSAA member. Undergraduate applicants must have successfully completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study in an appropriate major.
The Mendenhall Award is given in memory of the late Chet Mendenhall, a pioneer in the golf course management industry. A native of Kingman, Kan., Mendenhall's upbringing on an Oklahoma farm served him well. His career in working with the land began in 1920 as an employee of the Wichita (Kan.) Parks and Forestry Department, where he designed and built his first course despite having no previous experience with the game.
In 1928, Mendenhall accepted an invitation to become superintendent at Wichita Country Club. It was during his tenure there that Mendenhall assisted California-based golf course architect Billy Bell in designing and constructing a new course. Taken by the process, Mendenhall entered night school to learn surveying, drafting, bookkeeping and other related subjects.
He moved in 1934 to the Kansas City, Mo., area, where he served as superintendent of the Mission Hills Country Club for 31 years until his retirement in 1965. Mendenhall was a charter member of GCSAA and his service to his profession included serving as a director of the GCSAA from 1940-46, vice president in 1947 and president in 1948. He received the GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award in 1986, and in 1990 the USGA honored him with its Green Section Award. Mendenhall passed away in 1991 and was inducted into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame in 1996.
Recognized for his expertise in the turf management field, Allan MacCurrach began his career as a superintendent at Valley Country Club in Warwick, R.I., in 1962. In 1972, he became the 45th person to receive the title of Certified Golf Course Superintendent from GCSAA. MacCurrach became the PGA Tour's first agronomist in 1974 and played a leading role in establishing a standard of excellence for course conditioning at PGA Tour events. MacCurrach was named senior agronomist in 1988 and in 1994 received the GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 57.