The Late Paul Backman Receives 2010 NWGMA Distinguished Service Award

Paul Backman, the former Executive Director of the Western Washington Golf Course Superintendents Association and the Northwest Turfgrass Association, was posthumously awarded the 2010 Distinguished Service Award by the Northwest Golf Media Association (NWGMA) during its annual tournament-banquet. This year's event was at Everett (Wash.) Golf & Country Club, which is celebrating its centennial in 2010. On hand for the presentation was Backman's family, including his wife Julie and daughter Olivia; brother John Backman and his wife Heidi, daughter Sidney and son Nolan; and Paul and John's parents, Ron and Karen Backman.

A lifelong resident of Olympia, Wash., Paul Backman graduated in 1987 from Olympia High School. Paul's love of golf began at an early age, playing junior golf and working at Tumwater (Wash.) Valley GC. He also lettered four years in golf at OHS. As a senior Paul won the OHS Bud Ward Trophy for golf, and was 1988 and 1989 Tumwater Valley Men's Club Champion.

Left to Right - NWGMA President Tom Cade,
Julie Backman and John Backman

Paul attended Western Washington University, where he played on the college golf team. He transferred to Oregon State University and graduated with a degree in Horticulture in 1992. He worked at Overlake G&CC, and then moved on to become Assistant Superintendent at Everett G&CC. Paul earned a Masters Degree in Plant Pathology and Biological Disease Control from Penn State University in 1997, and then returned to the Northwest as a Research Assistant at the Washington State University Puyallup Research & Extension Center. In 1998 Paul married Julie Forner in Olympia.

Because of Paul's oversight of the WWGCSA and NTA, he quite literally touched every single golf facility in the Northwest.

A longtime member of the NWGMA, Paul was instrumental in bringing several golf course superintendents in as members, recognizing the value of the sharing of information and communication among media and golf industry professionals.

It was Paul who coordinated the efforts of the WWGCSA, PNGA, WSGA, Club Managers Association and Pacific Northwest Section PGA to develop a golf lobbyist (funded by the NTA, WSGA and other organizations) in Olympia, which protects the interests of every golf facility, whether public, private or resort, regardless of affiliation.

It was Paul who pestered the media to bring attention to a movement which led to a bill being passed by then-Governor Gary Locke (Wash.) which ensured the survival and existence of high school and junior golf programs throughout the state.

It was Paul who spearheaded the efforts in compiling information for the Economic Impact Study for golf in Washington, recently completed by the World Golf Foundation and Stanford Research Institute. The study was created to educate those in Olympia of the huge impact golf has on the state's economy, during this recession when legislators are looking to tax everything possible or cut wherever possible.

Paul was a good colleague, and a friend to golf and the golf media. His passion for the game and business of golf will be missed. He passed away April 13, 2010. He was 41.

Also recognized during the event was Bob Spiwak, a long-time golf writer for various national (including Cybergolf) and regional publications who co-founded the NWMGA.

For more information about the Northwest Golf Media Association, visit

The above article is courtesy of Tom Cade, President of the Northwest Golf Media Association.