Professional Golf Management and Turfgrass Science Creates Scholarship

Nov. 4, 2010

The Morton Foundation and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation have teamed up to create the $20,000 John Zoller-Morty's Kids Professional Golf Course Management/Turfgrass Science Scholarship for students at Ohio State.

The Morton Foundation operates Morty's Kids, a summer program that provides equipment and instruction to kids ages 7 to 15. The program uses golf to teach kids social, ethical and moral values, as well as golf skills at the Walnut Hills Golf Course. "We decided we wanted to do something to help young kids use golf as a tool and a sport, as well as to apply life skills and education," said Tod Ortlip, chair of the Morton Foundation Board. "You learn so much and make lifelong friends playing the game of golf. If these kids learn the game and are exposed to these beautiful courses at a young age, they may be encouraged to pursue the game later."

A few years ago, the Professional Golf Course Management (PGM) program decided to help extend Morty's Kids further by conducting an eight-week session in the spring. Through this program, PGM students gain volunteer and teaching experience and Morty's Kids are able to further learn about the game of golf from student instructors. The first three weeks of the program are held at the university's Recreation and Physical Activity Center, and the last five are at the OSU Golf Club.

"It's really a win-win-win situation," said Ray Miller, director and professor of the PGM program. "The junior golfers win, our PGM students win, and the Morton Foundation wins because the program is extended to a different time."

In return for the help of the PGM program, The Morton Foundation decided to establish a scholarship that honors the late John Zoller, an Ohio State golfer during the late 1940s. Considered a tremendous golfer, Zoller was just as passionate about the condition and playability of golf courses. This led to a career as a groundskeeper, including Monterey Peninsula Golf Course and a position on the Monterey Peninsula Foundation Board. Through his life, Zoller remained true to Ohio State, always sporting a Buckeye hat and talking about the university whenever he had the opportunity. The foundation held him in the highest regard and decided to honor him with a matching $10,000 gift.

"John was an absolutely extraordinary person," said Ollie Nutt, president/CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. "He grew up in a small town in Ohio and had many people who helped him along the way. For that reason, he always wanted to pay it forward. We thought this would be a great way to honor him."

The scholarship will be presented to one or several students each year. The ideal candidate is an upperclassman who possesses qualities of leadership, scholarship and service with an emphasis on volunteerism in programs such as Morty's Kids.

"We hope it helps the recipients get through school while looking back in the future and remembering this extra help," Ortlip added. "I hope it inspires those students to do something positive for others later on. As Woody said, it's good to 'pay it forward.'"   

(From left) Tod Hecht, head pro at the Lakes Golf and Country Club and member of the Morton Foundation board; Tod Ortlip, president of Planned Communities Real Estate Inc. and chair of the Morton Foundation board; Rob Grubagh and Mike Murphy, PGM students and Morty's Kids volunteers; and Ray Miller, director of the PGM program.