USGA Mourns Loss of Key Green Section Administrator

Stanley J. Zontek was devoted to golf and the improvement of golf courses throughout the world. He was tireless in his efforts to help golf course superintendents make the most of the resources at hand, whether it was a small, family-run facility or the greatest of championship venues. Mr. Zontek passed away Tuesday, August 28.

It is impossible to calculate the impact Mr. Zontek had in his 41 years of visiting courses, writing articles, speaking at conferences and making friends all over the world.

Mr. Zontek's introduction to his chosen profession was through his father, a golf course superintendent. In the late 1950s, Penn State University's Dr. Burt Musser visited Stanley's father while he was installing the first 'Penncross' bentgrass putting green in West Virginia. This visit piqued Stan's interest in turfgrass science. He started his career in golf raking bunkers for $1.10 per hour. After high school, he enrolled at Penn State, where he developed a love for agronomy that grew stronger throughout his professional career.

In 1971, Mr. Zontek joined the USGA, where he found his calling. Stan and the USGA Green Section soon proved to be a perfect match with the shared goal of serving the game of golf through the dissemination of sound agronomic advice. Mr. Zontek never wavered in his commitment to this goal or in his efforts to help others be successful.

He started his USGA career as an agronomist in the Northeastern Region and was named director of the region in 1976. He moved to the North Central Region in 1980 before becoming the director of the Mid-Atlantic Region in 1985. He trained many USGA agronomists and it was always an experience to spend a week or two "traveling with Stanley." The topics went well beyond agronomy, but trainees came away with a much better appreciation of the industry.

Many organizations recognized Mr. Zontek's contributions. In 1997, he received the Golf Course Builders of America Association's Don A. Rossi Award. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and the following year, the Penn State University Crop and Soil Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award.

Mr. Zontek was extremely proud of his degree from Penn State and was one of the university's greatest ambassadors. Although he went out of his way to help all young turf professionals, he had a special place in his heart for "Penn Staters."

During his four decades of working in golf, Stan authored an extraordinary number of Turf Advisory Service visit reports, presentations, and articles on every aspect of golf course maintenance.

Dr. Kimberly Erusha, managing director of the USGA Green Section, said of Mr. Zontek's approach to life and his work. "Stanley often said that this was a people business and it was about building relationships. He lived by that sentiment, and did it very well. He willingly shared his passion, expertise and experience with people from around the world. For that, all of us who love the game are better for it."

The family has chosen a private burial in Cape May, N.J. Donations in Stanley's memory may be made to the following organizations:

American Diabetes Association
Stanley J. Zontek Memoriam
PO Box 11454
Alexandria, VA 22312
1 (800) 232-3472

PA Turf Research Innovation Fund
Penn State University
c/o PA Turf Research Innovation Fund
240 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

The Turfgrass Information Center (home of the USGA Turfgrass Information File)
MSU Libraries Development
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI 4882

The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information about Stanley Zontec's career and the organization, visit