Mark Kuhns to receive GCSAA Distinguished Service Award
Photo: Mark Kuhns with the 2018 GCSANJ Distinguished Service Award
Recently retired Baltusrol Golf Club Director of Grounds Mark Kuhns has been selected as one of two recipients of the 2020 Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award presented by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
Kuhns, CGCS, and John Foy, retired director of the USGA Green Section’s southeast region, will be recognized on Jan. 29 during the opening session of the 2020 Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando, Fla.
The award is given to individuals who have made an outstanding, substantive and enduring contribution to the advancement of the golf course superintendent profession. The award was renamed in 2009 in honor of Col. John Morley, GCSAA’s founder and first president. He was the first to earn the Distinguished Service Award in 1932, and he received it again in 1940.
“I was overwhelmed and excited when I got the call from the president,” said Kuhns, who began working at Baltusrol in 1999 and retired on March 31, 2019. “I am humbled to be among the list of the past winners and represent the industry to receive this award in Col. Morley’s name.”
In 2018, Kuhns was honored by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New Jersey with its Shaun M. Barry Distinguished Service Award at the NJPGA/NJSGA Celebration of Golf.
“Mark and John are most worthy of the Col. John Morley Award,” said GCSAA President Rafael Barajas, CGCS. “They have made significant contributions to helping superintendents upgrade the playing fields for golfers. Their knowledge has been essential in helping maintain courses in unique environments and their service has been unmatched.”
Said Baltusrol’s Green Chairman and Master Plan Committee Chairman Matt Wirths: "Mark is the consummate professional with a wealth of knowledge and experience who provided Baltusrol’s two great golf courses with outstanding conditions during his tenure at the Club. At Baltusrol, Mark was the Director of Grounds for the 2000 USGA Amateur and two PGA Championships, in 2005 and 2016. The entire membership and staff at Baltusrol congratulate Mark on this distinguished service award."
Kuhns, who served as president of GCSAA in 2009, cites his beginnings in the golf industry for putting him on a path toward becoming a superintendent.
“I grew up in a family of great golfers and started out working in a course pro shop and caddying before I moved into landscaping,” Kuhns said. “I have worked with many great people, including other past presidents who have been my friends and mentors, throughout my career in landscaping and I have not missed a Golf Industry Show since 1979.”
Kuhns was first elected to serve on the GCSAA Board of Directors in 2003 during his tenure at Baltusrol Golf Club. Previously, he was golf course superintendent at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club; Laurel Valley Golf Club and Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Pa.; and Ligonier (Pa.) Country Club. Kuhns is currently the vice president of business development for Turco Golf Inc. He has hosted six major championships during his career, including the 2005 and 2016 PGA Championships at Baltusrol.
Kuhns has been a GCSAA member for 41 years and first earned certification in 1983. He is a member and past president of the Mountain & Valley GCSA, former vice president of the Greater Pittsburgh GCSA and currently serves as government relations chairman for the GCSA of New Jersey.
He is a member of the New Jersey Turfgrass Association, the Tri-State Turfgrass Research Foundation and a past member of the Penn State University Agronomy Advisory Council.
A native of Pennsylvania, Kuhns, 64, graduated from Penn State University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science. He also has a degree in business studies from Saint Vincent College.