The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) announced its 2023 honoree of the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship, selecting J. Bryan Unruh, UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center associate director and turfgrass scientist. The award will be presented at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando on Feb. 8.
“The President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship,” the organization’s press release notes, “was established in 1991 to recognize an exceptional environmental contribution to the game of golf; a contribution that further exemplifies the golf course superintendent’s image as a steward of the land.” Unruh is one of only a few academics to receive the award in its history.
“Truly, I was shocked,” Unruh said of the honor. “I don’t do this work for the accolades. The fact that my goals to promote turfgrass science and protect the environment are matched by GCSAA and its members, I couldn’t be more grateful.”
The announcement also comes as the University of Florida’s turfgrass science program marks 100 years of turfgrass teaching, research and Extension work. Another large component of Unruh’s work is outreach efforts as the UF/IFAS Extension state turf specialist.
GCSAA recognized Unruh for his career accomplishments in expanding golf course environmental best management practices (BMPs) not just in Florida, but also nationwide. After pioneering the first set of Florida guidelines, published in 2007, he championed the GCSAA’s effort to establish BMP guidelines in all 50 states, with the final state achieving the goal in late 2020.
Earlier this year, Unruh achieved another success for the Florida BMP program, when the guidelines became mandated by state law.
“Dr. Unruh has been instrumental in the development and expansion of golf course best management practices, which have truly been a game changer for the industry,” said Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO, in the press release. “His work has been invaluable to the game of golf and GCSAA members, and he personifies what the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship is all about.”