BROOKFIELD, Wis. – John Lawrence, director of strategic golf for The Toro Company and friend to scores of golf course architects, has been chosen as the 2022 recipient of the ASGCA Donald Ross Award. The award, given annually since 1976, is presented to a person who has made a significant contribution to the game of golf and the profession of golf course architecture. It will be presented to Lawrence at the ASGCA Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, on Oct. 3 at the Donald Ross Banquet.
Lawrence has spent his entire career working in and around golf, starting with a Toro Distributor for North and South Carolina, E. J. Smith and Sons Company. When the company split, Lawrence stayed with the new company, Smith Turf and Irrigation (STI) which focused on the professional side of the Toro Irrigation Distribution business and led him to develop relationships with golf course superintendents, owners, developers … and architects.
He eventually came to work for The Toro Company when Turf Care Products, another Toro Distributor he led, was sold to Toro in the early 2000s. Lawrence, in his work on the professional side of irrigation, was mentored by Toro’s Dr. Jim Watson, who taught him the benefits of working closely with universities with turfgrass programs, golf course superintendents and golf course architects. He also learned about the importance of relationship building from another mentor (and 2005 Donald Ross Award honoree), Toro’s John Singleton.
Lawrence’s work with ASGCA members and ASGCA as an entity connects him in unique ways to the profession of golf course architecture. He splits his time at Toro between his strategic golf role and Toro’s Corporate Accounts team, which is responsible for managing many of Toro’s key golf course customers worldwide. Toro’s business model encourages relationship building, and Lawrence has spent his time over the past two decades traveling from golf project to golf project around the world supporting the work of golf course architects.
“A young architect might view John Lawrence as merely a strategic name to add to their list of contacts. But describing John as ‘a good networking partner’ barely scratches the surface,” said ASGCA President Jason Straka. “John is the epitome of what the Donald Ross Award was created to honor. He truly has made a significant contribution to the game and the profession because of his ability to find that missing piece to move a project to success, and most importantly to help an architect or friend in need.
“It seems like he knows everyone; more than once I’ve been stuck on a project and a call to John has led to a solution. I’m proud to call him my friend, and I know that’s true for scores of people in this industry. The night we give John the Donald Ross Award is going to be special.”
Lawrence has been instrumental in bringing knowledge, networking and support to ASGCA since his hiring by The Toro Company. One of his first ASGCA projects was to bring Toro sponsorship to Remodeling University, an early-2000s “short course to a better course” seminar series conducted nationwide to educate golf course stakeholders on how to plan and execute successful remodels. The company has also, with Lawrence’s active involvement, organized three educational seminars for ASGCA members (two at Toro headquarters, one at University of Notre Dame), sponsored four international architectural study tours, and, through the Toro Foundation, funded several ASGCA-published books (on environmental development, water, and the ROI of remodeling), and supported ASGCA’ Forward Tee Initiative.
The Donald Ross Award is not the first time ASGCA has recognized Lawrence’s contributions to the organization and profession: he is also a three-time Presidential Citation winner and was the first non-ASGCA member invited to sit on the ASGCA Foundation Board of Directors.
The Donald Ross Award is presented by the ASGCA Awards Committee, co-chaired by ASGCA Past Presidents Steve Smyers, ASGCA, and Rees Jones, ASGCA Fellow (the 2013 Donald Ross Award recipient).
Past Donald Ross Award Recipients
2021 Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, ASGCA, golf course architects
2020 Renee Powell, golf pioneer/player/course owner
2019 Joe Passov, golf writer
2018 President George Herbert Walker Bush, U.S. President
2017 Alice Dye, ASGCA Fellow, golf course architect
2016 Michael Bamberger, golf writer
2015 Bradley S. Klein, golf writer
2014 Maj. Dan Rooney, founder, Folds of Honor Foundation
2013 Rees Jones, ASGCA, golf course architect
2012 Bill Kubly, golf course builder
2011 James Dodson, golf writer/editor
2010 Tim Finchem, PGA Tour Commissioner
2009 Ron Dodson, sustainable golf advocate
2008 George Peper, golf writer
2007 Dr. Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA, golf course architect
2006 Jim Awtrey, chief executive officer, PGA of America
2005 John Singleton, irrigation pioneer
2004 Thomas Cousins, philanthropist, urban golf developer
2003 Bill Campbell, president, USGA, captain, Royal & Ancient Golf Club
2002 Byron Nelson, professional golfer
2001 Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA, professional golfer, golf course architect
2000 Jaime Ortiz-Patino, owner and president, Valderrama Golf Club
1999 Arnold Palmer, professional golfer
1998 Judy Bell, president, USGA
1997 Gene Sarazen, professional golfer
1996 Ron Whitten, golf writer
1995 Pete Dye, ASGCA, golf course architect
1994 James R. Watson, agronomist
1993 Brent Wadsworth, golf course builder
1992 Paul Fullmer, ASGCA executive secretary
1991 Michael Bonallack, secretary, Royal & Ancient Golf Club
1990 John Zoller, executive director, Northern California Golf Association
1989 Dick Taylor, editor, “Golf World” magazine
1988 Frank Hannigan, executive director, USGA
1987 Charles Price, writer, “Golf World” magazine
1986 Deane Beman, commissioner, PGA Tour
1985 Peter Dobereiner, “London Observer” columnist, author
1984 Dinah Shore, sponsor of women’s golf tournaments
1983 Al Radko, director, USGA Green Section
1982 Geoffrey Cornish, ASGCA, golf course architect, historian
1981 James Rhodes, governor of Ohio
1980 Gerald Micklem, captain, Royal & Ancient
1979 Joe Dey, executive director, USGA
1978 Herb and Joe Graffis, founders, National Golf Foundation
1977 Herbert Warren Wind, “The New Yorker” columnist, author
1976 Robert Trent Jones, ASGCA, ASGCA founding member
Founded in 1946 by Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and 12 other leading architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects is a non-profit organization comprised of experienced golf course designers located throughout North America. Members have completed a rigorous application process that includes the peer review of representative golf courses. ASGCA members are able to counsel in all aspects of golf course design and remodeling and comprise many of the great talents throughout the golf industry.
For more information about ASGCA, including a current list of members, visit http://www.asgca.org or call (262) 786-5960.
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