Three postgraduate grants of $5,000, plus all-expenses paid trips to the Golf Industry Show, have been awarded through the fellowship funded by the Environmental Institute of Golf and The Toro Company. Newly married Philip Vines of Mississippi State University and David Jesperson and Charles Schmid of Rutgers are this year’s recipients.
Phillip Vines, a graduate student in turfgrass pathology at Mississippi State University, found out on New Year’s Eve that he had received a $5,000 grant as part of the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America (GCSAA)’s Dr. James Watson Fellowship Program. ”I was really speechless when I found out,” said Vines, who will finish his master’s degree in May. “With all of the money spent on the wedding and just starting out, it really relieved a burden.”
Vines was honored along with David Jesperson of Livingston, N.J., and Charles (Chas) Schmid of Sioux Falls, S.D., who are both doctoral students at Rutgers University. The Watson Fellowship is funded by a partnership between The Toro Company and GCSAA’s philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf. The fellowship is named after the late James R. Watson, Ph.D., a Vice President for Toro who pioneered turfgrass research.
The winners are students working toward postgraduate degrees who have been identified as promising future teachers and researchers in the field of golf course management. They also each receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2015 Golf Industry Show, February 21-26, in San Antonio.
An associate member of GCSAA, Vines’ history with the association goes back to his undergraduate days where he represented Mississippi State in GCSAA’s annual Collegiate Turf Bowl and served as president of the school’s turf club. He is well aware of Watson’s history and the fellowship.
“This is the most prestigious fellowship in our field. It means a tremendous amount, and it is very humbling to win an award named in Dr. Watson’s honor,” Vines said.
Watson was a leading authority on turfgrasses and was Vice President for Customer Relations and chief agronomist for Toro. The winner of the USGA Green Section Award in 1976 and the 1977 Agronomic Service Award by the American Society of Agronomy, Watson was named a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America in 1979.
He also won the 1991 Harry Gill Memorial Award from the Sports Turf Managers Association; the Old Tom Morris Award, GCSAA’s highest honor, in 1995; and this past December, the Donald Rossi Award from the Golf Course Builders Association of America.
Over the course of five decades at Toro, Watson conducted research on adaptability of species and strains of turfgrasses, fertilization practices, snow-mold prevention techniques for the winter protection of turfgrasses, and more. He also authored more than 400 popular articles on turfgrass cultural practices and water conservation.