Craig Ketelsen, CGCS, will receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association marking a 25-year relationship with the organization. Ketelsen, 52, will be honored during the association’s annual awards banquet at St. Simon’s Island, GA on Monday.
Today, Ketelsen is a territory manager for John Deere distributor Greenville Turf and Tractor and is based in Murfreesboro, TN. He retains a consulting role with Orchard Hills Golf Club in Newnan, GA where he was golf course superintendent for 22 years. He was Georgia GCSA president in 2012-2013.
“When we considered candidates for this award there was none more deserving than Craig,” says Georgia GCSA president Mike Brown, from The Standard Club in Johns Creek. “He has more years of service on our board of directors than anyone I know. But beyond that he is such a tremendous volunteer, whether in this industry or in his community. He is extremely deserving of this honor.”
Brown, who worked as an assistant superintendent at Orchard Hills from 1997 to 2001, credits Ketelsen for getting him involved in association service. “We talk association business every week and I’d see this gleam in his eye every time,” Brown says. “He really loves this industry.”
Ketelsen grew up in New York state where he showed promise as a golfer, winning his local club championship in ninth grade. He served as assistant pro at that course for several years during school breaks and also helped out on the golf course maintenance staff mowing greens before opening the pro shop. He says it was that experience that convinced him he wanted to become a golf course superintendent rather than a golf pro.
He headed south to Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach, SC and completed a turfgrass degree. In South Carolina, he spent time at Harbour Town Golf Links and Long Cove Club, for many years two of the highest ranked courses in the country. He then moved to Georgia and served as construction superintendent at Eagle Watch Golf Club in Woodstock and several other facilities before arriving at Orchard Hills.
One of the first people he met in the industry in Georgia was Jim Dusch, CGCS – now at Hawks Ridge Golf Club in Cumming. Dusch was heavily involved in Georgia GCSA service at the time and his influence convinced Ketelsen to “get involved,” a philosophy he carried outside the industry. Some of his community service includes many years as a volunteer supporting Eagle Scouts and with Habitat for Humanity, spearheading annual work efforts by Georgia GCSA members.
“I am thrilled beyond words that my peers think I have contributed anything worthy of this recognition when all I have done is get up every day loving what I do,” Ketelsen says. “There are some phenomenal people in this industry who are far more deserving than me but of course I am excited to receive the award. It’s just further proof that when it comes to service you get back more than you ever put in.”