Jack MacKenzie, executive director of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association and retired Certified Golf Course Superintendent, has earned the 2018 Excellence in Government Affairs Award from GCSAA for his passion and hard work in advocating for the golf course management profession. GCSAA annually recognizes a chapter, coalition or superintendent for outstanding advocacy or compliance efforts in government affairs.
MacKenzie, a 36-year member of GCSAA, transitioned from golf course superintendent to executive director of the Minnesota chapter six years ago, with the job change offering him a bigger platform for his already-established interest in advocacy.
“I grew up on a golf course, and I have been civically minded since high school,” MacKenzie says. “But it was really when water issues came up that I started getting involved. I asked myself, ‘What can I do to help out the golf industry?’”
He has helped by becoming a “known commodity” at the state Capitol in St. Paul, having been appointed to statewide government committees such as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Pollinator Best Management Practices Lawn and Garden Committee; MDA Pesticide Review Committee; Department of Natural Resources Surface/Groundwater Negative Threshold Committee; MDA State Pesticide Licensure Category A&E Rewrite Committee; and the multi-agency Water Reuse Stakeholders Committee. He has also given testimony on behalf of the golf industry to legislators and governing agencies.
“When I first joined the pollinator committee, I walked into a room with two dozen beekeepers, and the room went silent when I said what I do,” MacKenzie, who was a key figure in the creation of best management practices for Minnesota golf courses, says. “But it gave me the opportunity to tell the good story of golf. Soon, I had people giving me their business cards and wanting to work together.”
A native of White Bear Lake, Minn., MacKenzie brought together golf in the state by organizing and hosting the Minnesota Golf Day on the Hill in 2016 and 2017, a joint venture of the Minnesota GCSA, Minnesota Golf Association, Minnesota Club Managers Association, Midwest Chapter PGA and the Midwest Golf Course Owners Association. But he also sees his winning of the Excellence in Government Affairs Award as a testimony to the specific role superintendents are playing in making positive change in Minnesota.
“I am very honored and thrilled to be recognized by my association,” MacKenzie says. “But I am most excited that the Minnesota GCSA is being recognized. Our superintendents are interested and invested, and are becoming players in the game.”
MacKenzie will be formally recognized Feb. 6 at the Opening Night Celebration of the 2018 Golf Industry Show, Feb. 3-8 in San Antonio. He will also be featured in an upcoming issue of GCSAA’s official monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine.
“If all politics are local, then Jack MacKenzie is a great example of how you can make a difference in your home state or your hometown,” says Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “He’s helping bring superintendents to the table for discussions that affect their operations, and raising the profile of all superintendents in Minnesota. He’s most deserving of the award as a strong advocate for the golf industry, and I congratulate him.”
Nominees were judged by the GCSAA Government Affairs Committee based on how their efforts best serve the interests of the golf course superintendent profession and the golf course management industry.
View the complete list of past GCSAA Excellence in Government Affairs Award winners.