Paul R. Latshaw named 2017 Old Tom Morris Award winner

By |  August 23, 2016 0 Comments
Paul R. Latshaw (right), with one of his many students, John Zimmers, superintendent at Oakmont.

Paul R. Latshaw (right), with one of his many students, John Zimmers, superintendent at Oakmont, at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.

Paul R. Latshaw, who prepared golf courses for nine major championships over 38 years as a golf course superintendent, elevating the profession through his influence and innovation, will be the recipient of the 2017 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

The award has been presented annually by GCSAA since 1983 to an individual, who through a lifetime commitment to the game of golf, has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris. Morris, a four-time British Open winner, was the longtime superintendent at St Andrews in Scotland until his death in 1908.

“I am dumbfounded, and I still can’t get over the fact that I am getting this award,” said the 75-year-old Latshaw, who retired in 2001. “The first thing I thought of was that Nicklaus and Palmer had won this award. Wow!

“I loved what I did; and I think I helped elevate the profession, and I am proud of that. I was a farm boy from central Pennsylvania who became a golf course superintendent. It sure was better than bailing hay and feeding chickens,” he joked.

Some of the past winners include Arnold Palmer, Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Ben Crenshaw, Ken Venturi, Nancy Lopez, Peter Jacobsen and Annika Sorenstam.

Latshaw is the fourth superintendent to receive the award, joining Sherwood Moore (1990), Walter Woods (2002) and GCSAA founder Col. John Morley (2009).

“He changed our lives,” said Matt Shaffer, his former assistant, good friend and director of golf course management at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. “He was always at the front of the line when it came to trying new things in the profession. He was never satisfied with the status quo.”

GCSAA President Pete Grass (left), Latshaw and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans (right).

GCSAA President Pete Grass (left), Latshaw and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans (right). Photo courtesy of GCSAA.

Shaffer is just one of more than 100 former assistants or interns who joined the golf course management profession after learning from Latshaw. Other notables include his son, Paul B. Latshaw, at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, and John Zimmers at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.

During his long career, Latshaw worked at Oakmont; Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.; Wilmington (Del.) Country Club; Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.; Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.; and Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Some of his innovations include rolling greens for firmness, using fans to deliver air circulation and cool greens in the summer, cutting fairway approach areas with walking mowers, and recruiting volunteers to help with the work load at major championships.

Latshaw will receive the award Feb. 7 at the Opening Session of the Golf Industry Show in Orlando. The Opening Session will again be presented in partnership with Syngenta.

“We are indebted to Paul for what he has done for this profession over the past four decades,” said Rhett Evans, chief executive officer of GCSAA. “He has been a mentor, innovator and promoter for the golf course superintendent. His impact lives on through all the people he has influenced in this profession.”

Photos: Golfdom

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