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CGSA honours Thorne as first female recipient of John B. Steel Award for distinguished service

Formal acknowledgement to be made March 3

February 9, 2022  By Turf & Rec

R. Marie Thorne, a pioneer among women in the turfgrass industry, has added another feather to her hat, having become the first female recipient of the John B. Steel distinguished service award.

The award is presented annually by the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the profession of golf course superintendent.

Thorne is a well-known leader and mentor in the Canadian turfgrass industry, having shared her expertise and knowledge frequently and delivering customer service as a senior turf specialist while with Syngenta Canada. She has been a CGSA member since 1983 and has been involved in the turfgrass industry since 1981 after graduating from the University of Guelph with a bachelor of science and agriculture major in plant protection. Upon graduation, she was one of the few women in the industry leading the way for the numbers seen today. She continued her education and placed first in the class at the University of Guelph turf managers’ short course in 1994, and graduated from the Penn State University world campus turfgrass management program in 2004.

“Marie Thorne is well-known and respected in our profession,” CGSA president John C. Scott said. “Her long career included many speaking engagements for CGSA along with many other associations. It was no surprise to find out that the late Gordon Witteveen, who was one of Marie’s mentors, contacted her after writing the book Practical Golf Course Maintenance, asking her to review a chapter about spraying for accuracy. There’s no question Marie has had a profound impact on many in our industry.”


Thorne, who retired from Syngenta in 2018, gave back to the industry, spearheading several partnerships within the Canadian golf course management profession, supporting both CGSA and a number of regional groups across Canada. She was heavily involved with the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation’s fundraising golf tournament over the years. Most importantly, she was known as a friend to so many across Canada, and everyone looked forward to catching up with her during one of the many industry events she participated in over the years.

“When John called to tell me that I was the recipient of this prestigious award, I was shocked, delighted and humbled all at the same time,” Thorne said. “I am very grateful to the CGSA board, and to all golf superintendents across Canada that I had the privilege of working with during my 37-year career.”


As the recipient of the Steel Award, Thorne will receive an “all-access” registration to the Canadian virtual Golf Course Management Conference March 1-3, when she will be presented with the award on Thursday, March 3 at 1:30 pm. The honour comes with an original soap stone carving that was designed and carved by Bill Fach, retired master superintendent and a past CGSA president.

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