Industry News

Michigan State’s Bearss wins GCSAA prize

Program awards $27,000 to 18 turfgrass management students

Lawrence, Kan. (Aug. 29, 2017) – Michigan State University student Ryan Bearss earned the Mendenhall Award prize of $6,000 in the 2017 Scholars Competition offered through the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). 

The GCSAA Scholars Program is primarily funded by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment and administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf, GCSAA's philanthropic organization. It was developed to recognize outstanding students planning careers in golf course management.

“I absolutely could not believe that I won, but I am very grateful and so excited,” said Bearss, who is pursuing a degree in crop and soil sciences. “I care about the subject matter so much, and I am very thankful for this opportunity.”

Bearss’ career aspirations were first sparked in high school while working at a small, independent nursery in his hometown of Farmington Hills, Mich. He spent the next summer working on the crew at Meadowbrook Country Club in Michigan, and in 2015 interned at Moraine Country Club in Ohio.  

“My goal is to go into research focusing on golf course turf,” said Bearss, who will start graduate school at Michigan State in January.

The top award in the Scholar’s Competition is named for the late Chet Mendenhall, who was a charter member of GCSAA, a past president (1948) and recipient of the association’s Distinguished Service Award (1986).

Jordan Carbone of Erin, Ontario, Canada, who attends Georgian College, received the second place award of $5,000 known as the MacCurrach Award. It is named in honor of the late Allan MacCurrach, who became the PGA Tour’s first staff agronomist in 1974 and was the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award winner in 1997. The PGA Tour funds this award. Bearss and Carbone will also receive all-expenses-paid trips to the 2018 Golf Industry Show, Feb. 4-9, in San Antonio.

Other award-winners are:

Rohan Brown, St. Catherine, Jamaica, Texas Tech University, Ambassador Award, $2,000

Dylan Eastin, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Pennsylvania State University, $2,000

John Peppers, Horton, Ala., Auburn University, $2,000

Robert Sefton III, Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., Pennsylvania State University, $2,000

Michael Melka, Warrenville, Ill., Pennsylvania State University, $1,000

Austin Dance, South Bend, Ind., Purdue University, $1,000

Silas Ledford, Cohutta, Ga., University of Georgia, $1,000

Logan Rush, Cedartown, Ga., Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, $1,000

Mitchell Beckendorf, Conway, S.C., Horry-Georgetown Technical College, $500

Alyssa Lake, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Olds College, $500

Kevin Logan, Brasher Falls, N.Y., Pennsylvania State University, $500

Sean McGorisk, White Lake, Mich., Michigan State University, $500

Justin Mooney, Southampton, N.Y., Michigan State University, $500

Dustin Schneider, Fond du Lac, Wis., University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, $500

Christopher Skronski, Lafayette, Ind., Purdue University, $500

The GCSAA Scholars Competition Task Group reviewed and scored the applications. Criteria included academic achievement, potential to become a leading industry professional, employment history, extracurricular activities and recommendations from a current academic advisor and a superintendent with whom the student has worked.

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.

For more information on the program, visit 

About GCSAA and the EIFG

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Angela Hartmann, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications
Phone: 800-472-7878, ext. 3647 or 785-393-1361 (cell)