Former Marine wins top award in GCSAA Scholars Competition

Sixteen students have been selected to receive scholarships through the program, which supports future professionals in the turf management industry.


Penn State
Marcus Lounello, a Penn State University student, is the winner of the Mendenhall Award of $6,000 in GCSAA’s 2018 Scholars Competition.

Originally from Glendale, Colo., Lounello served in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and suffered a near-fatal gunshot wound. The injury was a life-changing experience that impacted him physically and mentally. After months of recovery and therapy, Lounello began to walk again and discovered the game of golf and its benefits.

Through the Semper Fi Foundation, Lounello was introduced to other injured service members. The group would get together and talk about their injuries while playing golf, and Lounello found a passion for the game and decided to pursue a career in golf course management.

Lounello interned with Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver before deciding to earn a degree in turfgrass management at Penn State. He has also interned with the Denver Country Club and will complete his degree in March. He plans to find a managerial position at a course in the Denver area and establish a veteran work program. Lounello hopes to help fellow veterans more easily make the transition from military life to civilian life through hosting annual golf outings where they can connect with each other.

“I am so honored and proud to have received the Mendenhall Award. This was a huge surprise, and I am grateful to be able to represent Penn State in winning this award,” says Lounello. “This provided me with a huge boost of confidence in my career, and it is really special to know that all the hard work that I have put in this past year has paid off.”

The GCSAA Scholars Competition is funded primarily by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment and is administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf, GCSAA’s philanthropic organization. It was developed to recognize outstanding students planning careers in golf course management.

Scholars Competition scholarships range from $500 to $6,000. Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to turf management, have completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study in the appropriate major, and be a member of GCSAA. Selection criteria include academic excellence, work experience, extracurricular activities and potential to become a leading professional in the golf course management industry.

The top award in the Scholars Competition is named for the late Chet Mendenhall, who was a charter member of GCSAA, a past president (1948) and recipient of the association’s Distinguished Service Award (1986).

Amy Wilbur of Delmar, Md., who attends Ohio State University, received the second-place award of $5,000, known as the MacCurrach Award. It is named in honor of the late Allan MacCurrach, who became the PGA Tour’s first staff agronomist in 1974 and was the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award winner in 1997. The PGA Tour funds the MacCurrach Award. Lounello and Wilbur will also receive all-expenses-paid trips to the 2019 Golf Industry Show, Feb. 2-7 in San Diego.

“GCSAA is greatly committed to our student members’ future careers in golf management,” says Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “We wish these students the best of luck as they pursue their educational endeavors.”

GCSAA Scholars Competition scholarship winners

Mendenhall Award winner, $6,000
Marcus Lounello
Glendale, Colo.
Penn State University

MacCurrach Award winner, $5,000
Amy Wilbur
Delmar, Md.
Ohio State University

Ambassador Award winner, $2,500
Nathan Wattier
Penn State University

Scholars Award winners, $2,500
Aaron Cabanaw
Buckeye, Ariz.
Penn State University

Evan McFadden
Corvallis, Ore.
Oregon State University

Scholars Award winners, $2,000
Aaron Butler
Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University

Thomas Quisenberry
Okemos, Mich.
Michigan State University

Michael Rabe
Haslett, Mich.
Michigan State University

Scholars Award winners, $1,000
Matthew Becker
Savage, Minn.
North Dakota State University

Levi Dreiling
Manhattan, Kan.
Kansas State University

Raquel Schwartz
Mount Laurel, N.J.
Rutgers University

Merit Award winners, $500
Alexander Hedlund
Redmond, Wash.
Walla Walla Community College

Raul Neto
Penn State University

Austin Northern
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Colorado State University

Alexander Panzenhagen
Waupaca, Wis.
Penn State University

Kyle Schierlinger
Irvine, Calif.
Michigan State University