BOSTON, Mass – Before even acknowledging the champion of the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Mike Whan, CEO of the United States Golf Association, took a few minutes to present an award to an individual who represents a profession that sometimes gets overlooked.
Moments after the completion of the tournament on Sunday, Whan, standing on the 18th hole, addressed the in-person crowd and a national television audience and bestowed the inaugural Marshall platter to Dave Johnson, director of grounds at The Country Club.
Johnson, a 23-year Class A GCSAA member, was responsible for presenting the storied 7,254-yard, par-70 course for the playing of the national championship. The Massachusetts native has been at The Country Club for four years.
“It is a complete honor to be able to elevate our status in the industry as golf course superintendents,” Johnson said of the recognition. “It was a complete surprise. I didn’t find out about it until they had the platter out on the 18th fairway.”
The platter recognizes excellence in USGA partnership regarding agronomy and course preparation. It pays homage to the determination of its namesake to present a well-maintained course to the world’s best players. The award is named after E.J. Marshall, who in 1920 was the chair of the greens committee at the Inverness Club, which hosted that year’s U.S. Open.
According to a USGA release, Marshall tried to locate agronomic advice when patches of dying turf appeared on the greens as the tournament was drawing to a close. Coming up empty, he approached the USGA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for help and later that year, the USGA formed the Green Section to provide course care expertise.
Dave Johnson and his staff of 36 were assisted by 100 volunteers during tournament week.
Matt Fitzpatrick claimed the tournament title by one shot over Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler.