– Just two months on from a helicopter airlift after falling ill on the job, Anthony Williams, CGCS has been honored as Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association. Williams, 50, is director of grounds at Stone Mountain Golf Club by Marriott in Stone Mountain. The award, presented at the association’s annual awards banquet at The King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island, caps a year in which professional highs bookended a string of personal lows.
Williams, a past-president of the association, began the year on a national stage receiving the Excellence in Government Relations Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. But in August, he lost his older brother to a heart attack. In September, Phyllis, Williams’ wife of 29 years, also suffered a massive heart attack. She survived but then 18 days later, Williams himself collapsed and underwent emergency heart surgery to replace an aortic valve and repair an aneurysm.
“We were in the Lord’s hands,” Williams told about 200 people at the awards banquet. “It seemed very unlikely that I would be able to attend the annual meeting. We set a goal to not let that happen. God was good and rehab went well for Phyllis and I. Everything worked out alright. I have never been so blessed to be with you all and soak it all in.”
Williams said the Superintendent of the Year Award was “the highlight” of his 30-plus year career. That’s quite a statement given previous achievements and recognition. He has served on the Georgia GCSA board of directors since 2001. He received GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2010, was the overall winner of the GCSAA and Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards in 2006 – he was twice a winner in the chapter category – and in 2012 published a book “The Environmental Stewardship Toolkit,” a collection of best practices and ideas for the environmental management of golf courses.
“Anthony Williams personifies the maximum of every criterion we weigh when we consider this award,” Georgia GCSA president, Mike Brown, from The Standard Club in Johns Creek, says. “The work he has done for his facility, for his association, for this profession, and for golf as a whole, establishes a new standard that stands as inspiration and motivation for the rest of us.”
Williams’ award, presented in partnership with Corbin Turf and Ornamental Supply, served as the finale of a night on which the Georgia GCSA also inducted three new members to its Hall of Fame.
Among inductees was William Shirley, CGCS from Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, who also endured highs and lows in 2014. Shirley was on the bag caddying for his daughter, Margaret, when she won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship but underwent two shoulder surgeries either side of her victory.
Other inductees were bentgrass pioneer Ron Sinnock, who retired in 2005 after a nearly 40-year career between Chattahoochee Golf Course in Gainesville and Coosa Country Club in Rome, and the late Bobby McGee, who in 1976 hosted the only U.S. Open Championship played in Georgia to date, and won by Georgia’s own Jerry Pate.
Craig Ketelsen, CGCS now a territory manager with John Deere distributor Greenville Turf and Tractor, won the Distinguished Service Award after 25 years in the association, more than half of which he has spent serving on the board of directors. Ketelsen also served on numerous committees and led multiple volunteer efforts on behalf of the association, particularly with Habitat for Humanity.
In other news from the awards banquet:
• Scott Lambert, from Peachtree Golf Club, was named Assistant Superintendent of the Year.
• David Noto, from Mossy Creek Golf Course in Cleveland, won the Georgia GCSA superintendent golf championship presented in partnership with Greenville Turf and Tractor. Noto shot a five over par two-round total of 149 in cold, windy conditions at The King and Prince Golf Course. Noto has now won the title in three of the past four years and finished runner-up in the other year by a stroke.
• Georgia Rep. Tom McCall and Mark Hoban, from Rivermont Golf and Country Club in Alpharetta received Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards from the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation.
• James Drinkard, from Athens Country Club in Athens, received a pin recognizing 30 years as a Georgia GCSA member. Courtney Young, CGCS from Ansley Golf Club in Roswell, and Mark Hendricks, of Greenville Turf and Tractor, received 25-year pins.
• Mark Hayes, from Marietta Country Club in Kennesaw, won the superintendent photography award for best image published in the association magazine, Through The Green.