Dr. Joseph Duich to Receive GCSAA’s 2006 Old Tom Morris Award

Joseph M. Duich, Ph.D., professor emeritus of turfgrass science at Pennsylvania State University, has been selected to receive the 2006 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). The award will be presented during the Opening Session of the 2006 GCSAA Education Conference, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006. The GCSAA Education Conference (Feb. 6-11) is scheduled to be held in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show (Feb. 9-11) in Atlanta.

As GCSAA’s most prestigious honor, the Old Tom Morris Award is presented each year to an individual who “through a continuing 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 (1821-1908) was greenkeeper and golf professional at the St. Andrews Links Trust Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland; a four-time winner of the British Open (1861, ’62, ’64 and ’67); and ranked as one of the top links designers of the 19th century.

In a break with tradition, the GCSAA Board of Directors has selected an honoree who has influenced the game of golf through long hours spent in university classrooms and laboratories in addition to some time on the links. Duich has devoted a lifetime to improving the game of golf by breeding new turfgrasses and teaching hundreds of future golf course superintendents and turfgrass researchers.

"There is no one more deserving of this award,” said GCSAA President Timothy T. O’Neill, CGCS. “Dr. Duich’s impact on the quality of our golf courses and his contributions to the game of golf are unparalleled. He has served as a mentor, a teacher, a researcher for thousands of superintendents under his tutelage, shaping not just lessons in turfgrass, but lessons in life.”

Duich received his doctorate from Penn State in 1957 and remained at the university as a professor and researcher until his retirement in 1991. Duich and his late mentor, Burt Musser, are credited with turning Penn State into one of the most successful turfgrass programs in the country. In his more than 36 years of faculty service, Duich oversaw the expansion of the Joseph Valentine Turfgrass Research Center at Penn State and taught more than 5,700 students. He elevated the two-year technical program in golf turf management at Penn State to international acclaim, with more than 1,100 graduates and is fondly remembered for his involvement with his students and for seeing them succeed.

“To this day, he could probably tell you where most of his students are," said Terry Laurent, GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Cross Creek Golf Course in Decatur, Ind., and a 21-year GCSAA member. “When he calls you, he asks you how you are and if there's anything he can do to help. That's just the kind of man he is. “I'm grateful for everything he taught me, and I know I wouldn't be where I am today without his guidance," Laurent said. "He has helped a lot of people get ahead in this industry."

Duich has developed many turfgrasses, including the A and G series of creeping bentgrasses. When Musser died in 1968, he left his work in the capable hands of Duich, who built upon his mentor's work, commercializing Penncross cool-season turfgrasses, which the two developed together to raise funds for the buildings that house Penn State 's research facilities.

In addition to breeding, Duich has authored or co-authored more than 100 technical publications on a variety of turfgrass science subjects. His work has garnered numerous honors, including GCSAA's Distinguished Service Award in 1976, the USGA Green Section award in 1981 and the Golf Course Builders Association of America's Don A. Rossi Award in 2004.

Despite his retirement, Duich remains active as a consultant and speaker in the industry, traveling to visit golf courses and interact with superintendents. He and his wife, Patricia, reside in State College, Pa., and have two children.

Duich joins a list of highly respected past honorees, including Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Tom Fazio, Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Byron Nelson, Ken Venturi, Ben Crenshaw, Jaime Ortiz-Patiño, Nancy Lopez, Tim Finchem, Walter Woods, Pete Dye, Rees Jones and Jack Nicklaus.

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