GCSAA announces winners of 2020 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards

Familiar faces make up the latest class of honorees, each at the helm of a facility well-rounded in its environmental efforts.


GCSAA environmental awards
Green machine: Four-time ELGA winner Anthony L. Williams, CGCS, who is among 2020’s recipients, oversees TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Irving, Texas. Photo courtesy of Anthony Williams

Four golf course superintendents have been named winners in the 2020 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGAs), presented annually by GCSAA and Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta. Seven runners-up have also received recognition for their environmental work.

The ELGAs have recognized superintendents and golf courses around the world for their commitment to environmental stewardship since 1993. In 2018, the awards were updated to spotlight more superintendents in more focused areas of environmental sustainability. Rather than offering national awards based on facility type, the ELGAs are now based on environmental best management practices and honor specific areas of emphasis.

  • The Communications and Outreach Award recognizes effective communication of conservation strategies with facility employees, golfers and other members of the community.
  • The Healthy Land Stewardship Award recognizes effective strategies for efficient use of pesticides and nutrients as well as pollution prevention.
  • The Innovative Conservation Award recognizes unique and innovative strategies for conservation.
  • The Natural Resource Conservation Award recognizes effective strategies for water conservation, energy conservation and sound wildlife management.

“Environmental stewardship is a focus of the golf course management industry,” says GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. “These winners are tremendous examples of leadership in creating quality playing conditions while committing to environmental management practices. Congratulations to all of the recipients for their efforts to keep golf sustainable.”

The ELGA winners will be recognized during the annual Golf Industry Show, which will be held virtually Feb. 2-4, 2021. They will also be featured in the February 2021 issue of GCSAA’s official publication, Golf Course Management magazine.

Communications and Outreach Award

Anthony L. Williams, CGCS
TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club
Irving, Texas

Anthony L. Williams, CGCS, is a 24-year GCSAA member who has spent the past four years as director of golf operations at TPC Four Seasons near Dallas. The golf operation is built on what Williams describes as an “environomic” model, with a mission to consistently combine environomics, horticulture, hospitality and teamwork.

Internal communication includes environmental displays in the clubhouse and conference room, regular conference calls, and weekly email updates. Externally, the course hosts an annual Earth Day activity for members, hotel guests and the community; conducts an average of eight environmental tours for special events and conventions; provides formal and informal education for local homeowners associations; and offers an outdoor classroom and nature trail.

Williams, who also claimed ELGA honors in 2005, 2006 and 2017, has been involved in a number of articles and videos championing environmentalism on golf courses. He was also the winner of GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2010.

First runner-up in the Communications and Outreach category is Matthew Gourlay, CGCS, MG, director of golf course management at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan. Second runner-up is Chris Robson, superintendent and Glendoveer Golf and Tennis in Portland, Ore.

Healthy Land Stewardship Award

Carl David Thompson, CGCS
Columbia Point Golf Course
Richland, Wash.

After earning second runner-up in this category last year, Carl David Thompson, CGCS, has claimed the Healthy Land Stewardship title for 2020. The 28-year GCSAA member was the recipient of the Natural Resource Conservation Award in 2018.

Thompson has spent the past 15 years at Columbia Point and has established no less than 15 buffer zones around lakes to prevent water pollution. He has instructed staff members to scout for disease, weed and insect activity, and the team has determined acceptable thresholds for pests to guide their application of plant protectants.

First runner-up in the Healthy Land Stewardship category is Wayne Mills, superintendent at La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara, Calif. Second runner-up is Justin Brimley, superintendent at Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame, Calif.

Innovative Conservation Award

Gary Ingram, CGCS
Metropolitan Golf Links
Oakland, Calif.

Gary Ingram, CGCS, has been named an ELGA recipient for the fourth time in seven years, and last year, he won GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship. The 40-year GCSAA member has been a longtime national leader in environmental excellence.

Among efforts to conserve water at Metropolitan Golf Links, Ingram has reduced more than 22 acres of previously irrigated turf, ceased watering driving range landing areas (except for small green targets), and added native areas. These steps have reduced expenses, including labor, gasoline, inputs and water usage. Instead of spending a lot of time on unused areas of the driving range, Ingram’s staff is able to focus on necessary care of the golf course.

First runner-up in the Innovative Conservation category is Brandon Reese, director of golf course operations at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La.

Natural Resource Conservation Award

Shannon Easter
Broken Sound Club
Boca Raton, Fla.

Broken Sound, a PGA Tour Champions event host for 13 consecutive years, operates toward making as little impact on the environment as possible. The facility has become 97% waste-free, added thousands of plantings to enhance wildlife habitat, and has zeroed in on improving water conservation, water quality and energy efficiency.

Shannon Easter, a 23-year GCSAA member, has been the maintenance director at Broken Sound for six years and has been part of a number of environmental awards the club has earned during that time. Easter also received ELGA honors in 2016 and 2018. His golf course operation has made great strides in pollution prevention; reduction of energy use; water savings via low-volume and low-pressure sprinkler heads; and protection of water sources and wildlife from chemical runoff via vegetation, carbon buffers and no-fertilizer zones.

First runner-up in the Natural Resource Conservation category is Jay Neunsinger, superintendent at Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek, Calif. Second runner-up is David Dore-Smith, director of golf course and grounds maintenance at Copperleaf Golf Club in Estero, Fla.

View the complete list of past Environmental Leaders in Golf winners.