Baltimore, MD – Special Olympics Maryland announced
today that the Eastern Shore Association
of Golf Course Superintendents (ESAGCS) has been selected as the recipient
of the inaugural “Heart of the Cup” Volunteer Golf Organization of the Year
Award, which will be presented officially at a May 25 fundraising dinner
featuring golfing legend Arnold Palmer and famed broadcaster Jim Nantz.
The event, titled The 19th Hole: An
Intimate Evening with Arnold Palmer and Jim Nantz is intended as a
celebration of not only two legendary sports figures in Palmer and Nantz, but
also the incredible impact the sport of golf has had on our community and the
difference it has made for non-profits of all type and size. In keeping
with that theme, the Heart of the Cup Awards have been created to celebrate
both the Volunteer of the Year and the Volunteer Golf Organization of the Year. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics
In one of the highlights of the program, ESAGCS’ contributions
as an organization will be highlighted and celebrated during the 19th
Hole, ending with the presentation of the physical award by Mr. Arnold
Palmer. The recipient of the Volunteer of the Year, Baltimore native
Raymond Daue, will also be recognized and receive a special award from Palmer.
ESAGCS was selected
as the all-volunteer group affiliated with golf that has most distinguished
itself by its charitable or community-based activities within the framework of
the game, its players, or the courses upon which it is played.
About ESAGCS (www.esagcs.org)
By definition, a
superintendent’s job is to oversee the maintenance, management and operation of
a public or private golf course. Central
to that role is the maintenance of the course itself.
Therefore, as the
group of people responsible for preserving the beauty and appeal of the courses
upon which countless fundraising tournaments are played, Superintendents, by
nature, are already integral to every charitable dollar raised through this
format – one in which the participants’ experience on the course has a direct
correlation to the immediate success and sustainability of a fund-raiser. But ESAGCS has made it the mission of their
organization to expand that support much further, by actively supporting their
community through their own charitable work, by funding research that will
better their field, and through the group’s focus on environmental stewardship.
to making their communities a better place to live surfaced again and again and
again as the selection committee evaluated the nominees,” said Tom Schniedwind,
Exec. VP – Sports Marketing for Special Olympics Maryland. “What continuously jumped out and set this
organization apart was the community service ethos that is evident on a
year-round, long-term basis. They are
not an organization that dabbles in charitable work when they have the time –
instead, their focus on making an impact is an important guiding principle, so
much so that it has become part of the fabric of the ESAGCS’ overall mission
It all began fifteen
years ago, when the leadership team of the ESAGCS decided that they needed to
do some work outside of their own trade, stressing that they wanted to create
meaningful projects or initiatives that would offer a greater benefit to the
At that time, Joe
Perry, current Secretary/Treasurer for the organization and a Certified Golf
Course Superintendent with Eagles Landing Golf Course in Berlin, MD, had read
an article about how the local Grant-A-Wish Chapter was building a house at the
beach for children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families. So ESAGCS did what they know best – golf, or
at least the grounds it’s played on. “We are the guys who grow the grass, not the
guys who hit the ball,” said Perry.
The organization started a small golf
tournament that, 15 years later, has raised more than $100,000 for what is now
called the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea on 66th
Street in Ocean City, MD.
Two years ago,
wanting to spread the community benefit a little further, they added Wounded
Warriors to their list of charitable partners.
They also fund several student scholarships, and regularly assist
individuals in need, particularly if the need is from within their own
membership. Most recently, they raised
$3,000 at one meeting to help defray medical expenses for the son of a fellow
golf course superintendent who was seriously injured.
The bulk of their
charitable dollars continue to be raised through their annual golf tournament,
which is held at Hog Neck Golf Course in Easton. Since its inception, the tournament has grown
to include an auction, sponsorship opportunities, and other revenue streams.
Just as important to
the ESAGCS members as their charitable work are their environmental
concerns. “Every Superintendent is a
steward of a particular very large property,” said Perry. “As such, we take into account the impact of
everything we do, and do everything we can to minimize it.” This includes using new technologies, as well
as requiring that members are constantly educating themselves. They also work cooperatively with the
Maryland legislature and the Chesapeake Bay Commission to craft reasonable legislation
as it relates to protecting the watershed.
They stress the
education piece as another of their core philosophies. “As professionals, superintendents are
probably the most highly educated group in the industry. Continuing education – both voluntary and mandatory
– are part of their trade,” said Perry.
To that end, ESAGCS
has a regular monthly meeting, participates in an annual turf conference, and
supports research that will help all Superintendents do their jobs better. They also fund research through University of
Maryland’s Turfgrass Program.
Founded in 1972, the
ESAGCS is comprised of dedicated turf industry managers on the Eastern Shore of
Maryland and in Delaware. As a
professional organization, ESAGCS is actively supporting and advancing the careers
of its members by encouraging continuing education, funding research and
advances in their field and encouraging the relaxed, friendly atmosphere that
is indicative of life on the Shore.
The 19th Hole is set for Wed., May 25 at Martin’s
West in Baltimore, MD. Approximately 1500 people are expected to attend
the festivities, which most notably includes the “fireside chat” between Arnold
Palmer and Jim Nantz. Following this intimate sound portrait of one of
golf’s greatest stars, Nantz will moderate a Q&A where audience members
will be able to ask questions of Palmer. Full details available at www.19thHoleMD.com, including online
ticket sales. Both general admission ($175 each) and VIP ($500) tickets
are available. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics Maryland.