Kenneth Benoit Jr., CGCS, earns Excellence in Government Affairs Award from GCSAA

Efforts to establish best management practices for New York state golf courses recognized as award-worthy environmental stewardship and industry advocacy


Kenneth Benoit, Jr. and his bicycle

Kenneth Benoit Jr., CGCS, 28-year GCSAA member and past president of the Metropolitan GCSA, has earned the 2023 Excellence in Government Affairs Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Benoit is being honored for his efforts in establishing the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for New York state golf courses, educating those outside the industry on BMPs and developing a strong working relationship with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Excellence in Government Affairs Award recognizes a chapter or superintendent or coalition for outstanding advocacy or compliance efforts in government affairs.

This award honors the cumulative efforts of Benoit’s proactive approach in establishing BMPs at New York state golf courses, as well as his dedication to developing a positive and productive working relationship with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York state Agency tasked with regulating pesticide registrations, commercial applicators and other relevant issues.

“Like most regions around the country, we have a very politically charged relationship with environmental groups and lawmakers,” Benoit said. “Fortunately, we have a very politically active core of superintendents in the Northeast, who help communicate the great things our industry is doing for the environment.”

Benoit’s vision, leadership and hard work, along with other MetGCSA superintendents and Cornell University, was instrumental in creating and drawing attention to the New York state BMP project at the 2012 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show (formerly the Golf Industry Show) in Las Vegas, Nev. More than 10 years later, Benoit continues to be both a steward and promoter of BMPs in New York.

During the creation, adoption and promotion of the New York state BMPs, Benoit was a fixture at New York state’s Turfgrass Advocacy Day in Albany, N.Y., meeting with state lawmakers and often presenting and briefing the entire group of attendees on the status of the BMP project and how to use this information during legislative visits.

In 2019, Benoit also attended his first National Golf Day in Washington, D.C., which left him extremely impressed and excited. Benoit has been a member of GCSAA’s Grassroots Ambassador program since 2016.

Today, Benoit serves as the executive director of the New York Golf Course Foundation (NYGCF), whose mission is to further golf’s environmental efforts and curate the New York state golf BMPs, which protect New York state’s natural resources. Most recently, Benoit and the NYGCF have been working closely with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to create a partnership where New York state golf course superintendents can earn commercial pesticide applicator credits for completing their facility BMPs.

“I would ask all superintendents from around the country to do their small part by participating in the GCSAA BMP online tool,” Benoit said. “Formally adopting BMPs at your facility will go a long way toward helping our industry communicate to outsiders all the great things we’re doing to help create an environmentally healthy and sustainable world.”

Benoit has taken his show on the road, literally, by riding his bicycle across the U.S., New York, and most recently, Michigan, to document how golf courses, big and small, are using BMPs daily. These stories are powerful examples that can be shared with legislators to make a quick impact to tell the industry’s story that golf is good for the environment.

“I am truly honored and grateful to be chosen as GCSAA’s 2023 Excellence in Government Affairs Award recipient. Winning a Leadership award from GCSAA is a seminal moment in my career,” Benoit said. “Having worked with some of the greatest golf and turfgrass management leaders from around the world, they’ve inspired me to work hard, continue learning, and to give back. I share this award with everyone who’s helped me in the pursuit of those ideals.”