Connor McBride of Michigan State University is the second winner of the Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award of $10,000 from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) through the GCSAA Foundation.
Previously part of the GCSAA Scholars Competition, the Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award was revamped in 2021 as a stand-alone award to recognize an outstanding non-traditional student seeking a career in the field of golf course and turfgrass management. Applicants needed to be majoring in a field related to golf course management, planning a career as a superintendent or related profession, be 23 years of age or older and be a GCSAA member to be eligible.
The Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award is funded by Allan MacCurrach III and the PGA Tour. It is named in honor of the late Allan MacCurrach Jr., who became the PGA Tour’s first staff agronomist in 1974 and was the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award winner in 1994. He was a member of GCSAA for 31 years and was one of the first to become a certified golf course superintendent.
“My father found his passion for turf after he had a wife, a child and another degree in accounting, and he lived the struggle of trying to obtain a second degree with a full plate of existing responsibilities,” said Allan MacCurrach III, founder and owner of MacCurrach Golf Construction. “There are plenty of scholarships available for young individuals interested in turfgrass management, but with the Allan MacCurrach Jr. Award, we want our focus to be on the ‘non-traditional’ type of individual, especially underrepresented people in our industry.”
Prior to pursuing a career as a golf course superintendent, McBride held an entry-level position for a medical device company, where he had hoped to establish a successful career in medical device sales. After working in the position for more than two years, it became clear to McBride that working solely for a paycheck wouldn’t be enough to fulfill him long-term.
This perspective led to a realignment of McBride’s priorities, and he reflected on his time spent working at Great Oaks Country Club in his hometown of Rochester, Mich., as a teenager.
“I hope to be an example for people who might follow a similarly unconventional path toward a career in turf management. I want others to know that it is possible to change careers,” said McBride, president of Michigan State University’s Turfgrass Club. “I have a passion for this industry, and I plan on being a leader in it for many years to come. What it has given me so far only furthers my motivation to grow and improve it in the future—for myself, for those currently in it and for those, who like me, discover it later in life.”
McBride joined the grounds crew at Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Country Club in spring 2021, and he enrolled in Michigan State’s two-year turfgrass management program later that year. Since embarking on his new career path, he has completed an internship at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., and simultaneously finished his spring semester online. This summer, McBride completed an internship at Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach, Calif., and spent one week in June doing a course consulting internship with the USGA.
Another positive aspect of establishing himself in the turfgrass and golf course management industry is the exposure to the diverse individuals who typically work on any given grounds crew. He embraces the diversity of his coworkers and appreciates their cultural differences.
“It’s no secret that people who make up a grounds crew come from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and maintaining a golf course together provides an instant way to relate and connect with each other,” McBride said.