Anthony L. Williams, a key leader in the creation of strong working relationships between the golf industry and government officials in the state of Georgia during a time of severe drought, has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Government Relations Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).

Williams, a certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) who serves as the director of grounds at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club by Marriott and is a 17-year member of GCSAA, will receive the award at the 2014 Golf Industry Show in Orlando during the Opening Session, presented in partnership with Syngenta, on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

“Winning this award is a very gratifying and humbling experience for me,” Williams said. “The work that we did here in Georgia around the issue of water, the efforts to create partnerships with our state’s government and to become resources for them and not adversaries, is work that we would have done anyway because it was the right thing to do for golf. But to have your peers in the industry stand up and recognize those efforts makes this award even more special for me.”

From 2001 to 2013, Williams was a member of the board of directors of the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association, serving as the group’s president in 2010-2011. During that stretch, the state suffered through a historic period of drought that threatened the health and livelihood of Georgia golf courses through the prospect of prohibitive water restrictions and rationing.

But instead of reacting to the situation, the state’s superintendents took a more proactive path. With Williams at the lead, the golf industry forged strong working relationships with legislators in the state of Georgia, working together to create a sensible water plan for the state’s water users. A key to those plans was the creation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for golf courses; and through Williams’ efforts, 97 percent of Georgia golf courses voluntarily adopted these BMPs – far above the 75 percent benchmark that had been agreed upon with the state government. That achievement earned the Georgia GCSA a special proclamation from Gov. Sonny Perdue, and the BMPs remain a vital tool for superintendents in that state today.

Williams also has an impressive environmental résumé to his name. He was the recipient of GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2010, was the overall winner of the GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards in 2006 and authored the book “The Environmental Stewardship Toolkit,” a collection of best practices and ideas for the environmental management of golf courses, in 2012.

“Anthony is a shining example of how golf course superintendents can make a difference not only in their local communities, but also on a much larger stage,” GCSAA president Patrick R. Finlen, CGCS, said. “By tirelessly and proactively working with legislators in the state of Georgia, Anthony helped to create common-sense solutions for water users in his state, and also highlighted the expertise of superintendents to government officials and the valuable role they can play in resolving regulatory challenges.”

The Excellence in Government Relations Award recognizes and honors an individual, chapter or coalition/alliance that demonstrates outstanding advocacy or compliance efforts in government relations. Recipients are chosen by the GCSAA Government Relations Committee.

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