Herbert V. Kohler Jr., who served as CEO of the Kohler Co. for 43 years and led the company into golf and hospitality, will be the recipient of the 2016 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
The award has been presented annually by GCSAA since 1983 to an individual, who has helped mold the welfare of the game of golf in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris. Morris, a four-time British Open winner, was the longtime superintendent at St Andrews in Scotland until his death in 1908. Kohler was notified as being the 2016 award winner at St Andrews during the 2015 British Open.
“I am particularly honored and I sincerely thank the GCSAA for this award,” said Kohler. “I am delighted. Old Tom was an entrepreneur, an influence in the creation of the Open Championship, a designer of golf products and some of the best courses in the world to this day. He nurtured the environment as the first official keeper of the greens.”
Last year’s winner was golf writer Dan Jenkins.
Kohler will receive the award Feb. 9 at the Opening Session of the Golf Industry Show in San Diego presented in partnership with Syngenta.
“We are indebted to Herb Kohler for what he has done for this association and for what he has meant to the game over the past four decades,” said Rhett Evans, chief executive officer of GCSAA. “He has made an indelible mark in golf with his focus on the importance of environmental stewardship, both now and for the future.”
Kohler brought golf to the company that bears his family name and is most known for manufacturing home products. He hired famed architect Pete Dye to build four courses at two championship venues — Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin, and Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin, which will host its third PGA Championship in August.
In 2004, Kohler ventured into the birthplace of the game when the company bought the Old Course Hotel Golf Resort and Spa in St Andrews. In 2009, he expanded the Kohler presence in St Andrews with the purchase and development of Hamilton Grand.
He has served two three-year terms on the board of trustees for the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), the philanthropic organization of GCSAA, and was board chairman in 2001-2002.
A graduate of Yale University, and a designer/inventor with more than 200 product patents, he is an active philanthropist outside of golf. Kohler chaired the Board of Trustees of Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut. There he built the Kohler Environmental Center, the first teaching, research and residential environmental center in U.S. secondary education.