Gary Ingram, CGCS, director of agronomy at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, Calif., has been selected by the GCSAA Board of Directors as the recipient of the 2020 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship.
Ingram will officially receive the award at the 2020 Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla., during the Opening Session, presented in partnership with Syngenta, on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Orange County Convention Center.
GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship was established in 1991 to recognize “an exceptional environmental contribution to the game of golf — a contribution that further exemplifies the golf course superintendent’s image as a steward of the land.”
“Gary Ingram’s career is a shining example of how superintendents are making the golf industry more environmentally sustainable,” says GCSAA President Rafael Barajas, CGCS. “In addition, he has brought the message of the many benefits golf courses to his community through tireless outreach efforts. He is true steward of the land and champion for the industry.”
Ingram keeps Metropolitan Golf Links, an 18-hole course located on a former landfill, in the public conscious by collaborating with numerous community organizations, including the Police Athletic League, Spanish Unity Council, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Oakland City Council. Ingram, a 39-year GCSAA member, also serves on the local water district’s landscape advisory committee. Outreach to the next generation of golfers comes through Metropolitan Golf Links’ nonprofit organization, the Oakland Turfgrass Education Initiative, which provides STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art and math) field trips to 200 area students each year.
“My parents were both teachers, and I was always proud of how they positively affected the youth in our community,” Ingram says of his affinity for community involvement. “Through Metropolitan Golf Links, I facilitate the Oakland Turfgrass Education Initiative (OTEI). OTEI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching environmental science, agronomy, and using the course as a living lab for Oakland students. Since then, we have hosted over 2,000 students and had dozens of high school interns, some of whom have become employees at Metro. This has proven to be a great opportunity to both teach and maintain my core values of environmental stewardship and community involvement while also doing a job that I enjoy.”
Ingram grew up in Berkeley, Calif., near Tilden Park Golf Course, where he worked when he was in high school. It was both his love of the outdoors and nature as well as his stints on the Tilden Park maintenance staff that inspired him to earn a degree in ornamental horticulture from Merritt College and set him on the path to a career as a golf course superintendent.
“Now, after 50 years and being involved with numerous areas of the golf business, I still feel blessed to be involved with the creation of beautiful recreation facilities for our communities while enjoying the wonders of Mother Nature,” Ingram says.
Ingram’s leadership in the industry has been well documented through the many awards he has received, which include GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards in 2014 (in the overall and national public course categories) and 2018 (in the communications and outreach category), CourseCo Superintendent of the Year, and GCSA of Northern California Superintendent of the Year.
In his 15 years at Metropolitan Golf Links, Ingram has employed an integrated pest management plan, chemical application management plan, and water conservation practices such as hand watering, reduction of irrigated turf, and use of an enclosed wastewater treatment recycling system. Ingram is also working to make Metropolitan Golf Links a zero-waste facility. He served on the steering committee to create the environmental best management practices guide for California golf courses.
“The (President’s Award) is special because it shows how golf courses and our industry can be more than recreational facilities and how they are truly community assets,” Ingram says. “But my colleagues, co-workers and of course my family deserve much of the credit, as they have shaped who I am and supported what I have done at Metropolitan, with OTEI and through my career.”
View the complete list of past President’s Award winners.