Herb Kohler to receive Old Tom Morris award from GCSAA

Herbert V. Kohler Jr., who served as CEO of the Kohler Co. for 43 years and led the company into golf and hospitality, will be the recipient of the 2016 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

“I am particularly honored and I sincerely thank the GCSAA for this award,” Kohler said in a news release. “I am delighted. Old Tom was an entrepreneur, an influence in the creation of the Open Championship, a designer of golf products and some of the best courses in the world to this day. He nurtured the environment as the first official keeper of the greens.”

Some of the past winners include Arnold Palmer, Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Byron Nelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Ben Crenshaw, Ken Venturi, Nancy Lopez, Peter Jacobsen and Annika Sorenstam.

Kohler will receive the award Feb. 9 at the Opening Session of the Golf Industry Show in San Diego. The Opening Session will again be presented in partnership with Syngenta.

“We are indebted to Herb Kohler for what he has done for this association and for what he has meant to the game over the past four decades,” GCSAA Chief Executive Officer said. “He has made an indelible mark in golf with his focus on the importance of environmental stewardship, both now and for the future.”

Kohler, 76, brought world caliber golf to the company that bears his family name and is most synonymous with manufacturing of leading-edge products for homes around the world. An avid golfer, Kohler hired famed architect Pete Dye to build four courses at two championship venues — Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., and Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis., which will host its third PGA Championship this month.

In 2004, Kohler ventured into the birthplace of the game when the company bought the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort and Spa in St Andrews. Five years later, he expanded the Kohler presence in St Andrews with the purchase and development of Hamilton Grand. The historic landmark sits behind the 18th hole of the Old Course and has 26 private residences.

He has also given back to the game, serving two three-year terms (1999-2002, 2007-2010) on the board of trustees for the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic organization of GCSAA, and was board chairman in 2001-2002. He was instrumental in renaming the fundraising organization as EIFG to show that money raised would be focused on golf’s environmental future. A graduate of Yale University, and a designer/inventor with more than 200 product patents, he is also an active philanthropist outside of golf

“Like Old Tom Morris, Herb Kohler has succeeded in many disciplines and is dedicated to the game of golf,” GCSAA President John J. O’Keefe said. “Mr. Kohler has said that this award was a highlight of his life with golf, so I am proud that GCSAA can honor him with an award so fitting to his personality and contributions to the game.”

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