Members of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association have honored Courtney Young, CGCS from Ansley Golf Club as their Superintendent of the Year. Young, who has been at the 36-hole club since its Settindown Creek course opened in 1988, was recognized in front of about 250 people at the association’s annual awards banquet at Reynolds Lake Oconee on December 12.
The award comes after Young was nominated by two colleagues whose opinions justifiably carried considerable weight. One was Ralph Kepple, CGCS from East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, which hosts the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup finale for the PGA Tour each year. The other was William Shirley, CGCS from Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, who also happens to be a member at Young’s club. Both are past winners of the Superintendent of the Year award.
“During his nearly 30 years at Ansley, Courtney has consistently been known to have some of the finest greens – first bentgrass and now Champion bermudagrass – not only in the Atlanta area, but in the southeastern region of the United States,” Kepple said. “Courtney has developed an incredibly strong relationship with the membership at Ansley. I have never talked with a member who was not fully supportive of Courtney and what he has accomplished at their club.”
Shirley provided first-hand proof of Kepple’s point. “Courtney is revered by the membership at Ansley,” he said. “I hear first-hand all the time about the admiration the members have for him. He consistently provides first-class playing conditions.”
Both Kepple and Shirley cited Young’s ability to mentor young professionals and his leadership efforts in support of the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation. “Courtney is extremely intelligent,” said Kepple, who, early in his career, worked for Young. “We’re not that much different in age but I regard him as my mentor. He wants to help everybody and is such a good teacher. If he wasn’t a golf course superintendent I think he’d be a college professor. He’s that smart.”
Young’s award was the pinnacle of a big night for the association to round out 2016. In other highlights:
- Billy Fuller and the late George Kozelnicky were inducted in the Georgia GCSA Hall of Fame. Fuller is a former superintendent at Augusta National Golf Club and now principal of his own golf course design firm. He created Billy Bunkers, now Better Billy Bunkers, which marked a radical improvement in bunker drainage and performance. Kozelnicky was a professor at the University of Georgia and Georgia GCSA executive secretary for more than 20 years. He is a member of the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame and a recipient of GCSAA’s Distinguished Service Award.
- Anthony Williams, CGCS, who spent 13 years on the association’s board of directors, received the Distinguished Service Award. “He has humbly given his all and sacrificed many hours for the benefit of this association,” said association president Greg Burleson, CGCS, from Augusta Country Club. “His drive for continued excellence is evident in everything he does both professionally and personally.”
- Philip Soukup from The Landings Club’s Palmetto course was named Assistant Superintendent of the Year. Soukup’s high standing among his peers was evident in the fact he was nominated by another assistant superintendent at a different facility. In addition to his work ethic and leadership among assistants, that assistant cited Soukup’s community mindedness. Earlier this year Soukup Tweeted a photo in praise of a police officer assisting a distressed elderly man which garnered national attention for the officer.
- Aaron Saunders from Jekyll Island Golf Resort on Jekyll Island received the Environmental Leader in Golf Award.
- David Noto from Mossy Creek Golf Course in Clarkesville received his trophy for winning a fifth Georgia GCSA superintendent golf championship in the past six years.
- J. Robinson from Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta won the Golden Pen Award for the best superintendent written article of the year for his piece Drones Give Superintendents Their Own Eye In The Sky.
- Wally Gresham from Sunset Hills Country Club in Carrollton was elected to the board of directors.