Jack Fry honored with GCSAA’s Outstanding Contribution Award

A fixture in turfgrass education, the scientist and researcher has influenced the expertise and career paths of many in the golf industry.


Jack Fry Kansas State

Jack Fry, Ph.D., professor and turfgrass Extension specialist at Kansas State University, has been selected as the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Contribution Award from GCSAA. Fry will be recognized during the Opening Session of the 2022 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show on Feb. 8 in San Diego.

The Outstanding Contribution Award, new this year, recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the GCSAA membership through outstanding contributions to the golf course industry. The contribution must be significant in both substance and duration, and it may be or have been regional in nature.

“Dr. Fry is highly deserving of our inaugural Outstanding Contribution Award,” says Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “During the nearly four decades that he has been involved with GCSAA, he has bettered the professional lives of superintendents through his teaching, research and Extension work. His service has been invaluable to the game, the industry and GCSAA members.”

Editor’s note: Jack Fry is a frequent contributor to GCM. Read some of his most recent articles: The icing on the turf, The art of managing turf density, and MLSN: A better approach to turf nutrition.

Fry took his childhood interest in plants to Kansas State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture. His studies at K-State led him into turfgrass science and initiated his first connection with GCSAA when he received an undergraduate scholarship from the association in 1982.

“That early connection (with GCSAA) was so important to me,” Fry says. “At that young age, I got to know people in the industry and see how really broad it is.”

Fry would go on to earn his master’s degree in agronomy from the University of Maryland and then his doctorate in turfgrass management from Colorado State University. After a four-year stint as an assistant professor at Louisiana State, Fry returned to K-State to teach in 1991.

In 1998, the same year he began teaching GCSAA seminars, Fry took a lead role in developing K-State’s golf course management concentration in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources. In 2020, he transitioned from teaching to his current role for the university, a position that combines research and Extension to the commercial turf industry. Over the years, Fry has advised more than 400 students, many of whom have gone on to careers in the golf course industry.

Outside the classroom, Fry’s environmental turfgrass research has focused on maintaining turf with fewer inputs. Much of the research was done with golf course superintendents in mind and was funded by golf organizations such as GCSAA, the Kansas GCSA, the Heart of America GCSA and the USGA. Fry is also a prolific writer, authoring the textbook “Applied Turfgrass Science and Physiology” and a regular column in GCSAA’s GCM magazine. Fry’s work earned him the Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Science Award from the Crop Science Society of America in 2011, and he was named fellow of the CSSA a year later.

While Fry has earned industry accolades individually, he is quick to recognize those who have helped him along the way, which include his mentors Bob Carrow, Ph.D., Pete Dernoeden, Ph.D., and Jack Butler, Ph.D.; his many colleagues at Kansas State; his students; the superintendents he has worked with; GCSAA and its Kansas and Heart of America affiliated chapters; the USGA; others in the industry; his parents; and, most important, his wife, Nathalie.

“It’s all about a team approach to success in a career, regardless of the position,” Fry says. “It’s been a team that has allowed me to be successful. Thank you to GCSAA and its members and those involved in the nomination (for the Outstanding Contribution Award). I appreciate all of them.”

Learn more about GCSAA’s Outstanding Contribution Award.