Kuhns, Foy to receive GCSAA Distinguished Service Awards

The superintendent and the agronomist will be honored at the 2020 Golf Industry Show for their notable careers in and contributions to golf course management.


Mark Kuhns John Foy
Mark Kuhns, CGCS, (left) and John Foy.

Longtime golf course superintendent Mark Kuhns, CGCS, and John Foy, retired director of the USGA Green Section’s Southeast region, have been selected to receive 2020 Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Awards from GCSAA.

The pair will be recognized 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.

The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) is given to individuals who have made an outstanding, substantive and enduring contribution to the advancement of the golf course superintendent profession. The award was renamed in 2009 in honor of Col. John Morley, GCSAA’s founder and first president. He was the first to earn the Distinguished Service Award, in 1932, and he received it again in 1940.

“Mark and John are most worthy of the Col. John Morley Award,” says GCSAA President Rafael Barajas, CGCS. “They have made significant contributions to helping superintendents upgrade the playing fields for golfers. Their knowledge has been essential in helping maintain courses in unique environments, and their service has been unmatched.”

Mark Kuhns, CGCS

A 39-year GCSAA member, Kuhns served as president of the association in 2009, and he points to his early experiences in the golf industry as setting him on the path toward becoming a superintendent.

“I grew up in a family of great golfers and started out working in a course pro shop and caddying before I moved into landscaping,” says Kuhns. “I have worked with many great people — including other past presidents who have been my friends and mentors — throughout my career in landscaping, and I have not missed a Golf Industry Show since 1979.”

Kuhns, first elected to serve on the GCSAA Board of Directors in 2003, was the director of grounds at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Previously, he had been the golf course superintendent at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club; Laurel Valley Golf Club and Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Pa.; and Ligonier (Pa.) Country Club. Kuhns is currently the vice president of business development for Turco Golf Inc.

Kuhns has been a Certified Golf Course Superintendent since 1983. He is a member and past president of the Mountain and Valley GCSA, and former vice president of the Greater Pittsburgh GCSA. He currently serves as government relations chairman for the GCSA of New Jersey. He is a member of the New Jersey Turfgrass Association, the Tri-State Turfgrass Research Foundation and a past member of the Penn State University Agronomy Advisory Council.

Kuhns graduated from Penn State University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science, and also earned a degree in business studies from Saint Vincent College.

“I was overwhelmed and excited when I got the call from the president,” Kuhns says of being informed of winning the DSA. “I am humbled to be among the list of the past winners and represent the industry to receive this award in Col. Morley’s name.”

John Foy

Foy, who is now retired, was the director of the USGA Green Section’s Southeast region, a role in which he consulted with golf courses in Florida and the Caribbean. Prior to becoming regional director, Foy served as an agronomist for the USGA’s Southeast region for five years. Throughout his career, Foy made more than 3,000 course consulting service visits to golf courses across the country.

Foy has written many turf-related articles for various publications, given presentations annually to golf industry groups, and worked closely with the Florida Turfgrass Association and the Florida GCSA.

“I was shocked and flattered to find out I had won,” says Foy of the DSA honor. “My entire goal in my career was to help superintendents get the golf course that they aspired to have.”

While with the Green Section, Foy assisted in preparing golf courses in the Southeast to host USGA championships. He served as the championship agronomist for the International Golf Federation and assisted in advanced and daily course preparations for the World Amateur Team Championships.

Foy graduated from the University of Georgia in 1980 with a master’s degree in plant protection and pest management. He also has a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from the University of Georgia, where he graduated cum laude.

“I primarily worked in Florida, upon service requests, to help educate superintendents. One of our biggest challenges was to maintain a green aesthetic during the winter months, when most everything is dormant, and managing pest control during hot, humid summers,” says Foy. “I also helped with the introduction of some of the newer grasses that improved the quality of the putting greens.”

The GCSAA Board of Directors selects the DSA winners from nominations submitted by affiliated chapters and association members.

View the complete list of past Col. John Morley Distinguished Service Award recipients.