Bob Farren Jr., CGCS and Director of Golf and Grounds Management at Pinehurst (NC) Resort, will receive the Col. GCSAA’s John Morley 2022.
The price Col. John Morley, named after the founder of the GCSAA, was revamped in 2021 and is now awarded annually to a person who is or has been a member of the GCSAA Superintendent Class A or B and has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the golf course profession of superintendent. The contribution must be significant both in substance and in duration.
The Morley Award joins the status of the other GCSAA Pinnacle Award, the Old Tom Morris Award, which will now be limited to those who are not GCSAA members and have helped shape the welfare of the game.
Farren, a GCSAA member for 41 years, seemed destined to join the golf industry as he grew up watching his father, Bob Farren Sr., serves as superintendent at Big Bend Golf Course in Tornado, West Virginia.
“I really never wanted to do anything other than that,” Farren said. “I don’t know why, probably because I spent a lot of time at the golf course with my dad and his friends. They were like uncles to me, so it was like a big family. I grew up going there since I was 8, 9, 10. During my high school years, I worked on the golf course and then we played on the golf course. It was just a big brotherhood of people.
After graduating from Marshall University, Farren went to work as a golf course and grounds supervisor for Kanawha County Parks, West Virginia. Three years later, Pinehurst came calling. In 1982 Farren became assistant superintendent of the No. 1 and No. 4 courses at Pinehurst, and he was promoted to superintendent of No. 4 for 1983-84. After a nine-month stint at Berry Hills Country Club in Charleston, West Virginia, Farren returned permanently to Pinehurst in 1985. Since then he has been steadily climbing as he has held the following titles:
- Superintendent of n° 2 and 6 in 1985
- Assistant Director of Courses and Golf Courses from 1986 to 2001
- Director of courses and golf courses from 2001 to 2008
- Director of Golf Course and Grounds Management 2008-present
During Farren’s tenure, Pinehurst No. 2 distinguished itself as the site of more golf championships than any other course in America, including the US Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup matches and the PGA Tour championship. Farren has appeared in 14 USGA championships, including three US Opens, and was crucial in the unprecedented double of 2014, when the No. 2 hosted the US Open and US Women’s Open for weeks consecutive. And there’s more to come: The USGA announced last year that Pinehurst would serve as an ‘anchor site’ for the US Open, which would be played at No. 2 in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047 .
His contributions to the industry extend well beyond high-profile events. Other honors Farren has received include the GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2007; golf summary Green Star Award for outstanding environmental practices in 2014; ANUVIA’s Legends Award in 2018 and induction into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 2018.
“Bob truly embodies everything the Morley Prize stands for,” said GCSAA’s CEO. Rhett Evans noted. “His impact on the game was seen by the millions around the world who watched the televised championship events at Pinehurst, but he had a more direct influence on those he coached and the many ways he has volunteered his time to give back to the industry.”
In addition to having been involved with the GCSAA Foundation for years and serving on various GCSAA committees, Farren is or was a member of the USGA Green Section Committee, a member of the Bayer Advisory Board Green Start Academy, Musser International Turfgrass Foundation Board Member Trustees, First Tee of Sandhills Board Member and Chairman of the Village of Pinehurst Historic Preservation Commission.
“I hope I’ve been a positive mentor to people,” Farren said. “I’ve found that you pay back on purpose, it’s second nature to you, only if you really love what you do. I really care about that, whatever your profession. I always try to make my assistants in particular that it’s important to be part of the community. When you’re part of the community, people look at you in a different light. You’re part of the community, not just the guy who takes care of the grounds golf.
Farren will officially receive the award on February 8 during the opening session of the GCSAA 2022 conference and trade show in San Diego.