Our very own Sam Huff had the honor of receiving the 2013 Winfrey P Bunton II Kentucky Turfgrass Man of the Year award, presented by Dr. AJ Powell Jr. and Dr. Dwight Barkley at the KTC Conference and Trade Show on Tuesday, October 22.  This prestigious award could not have been given to a more deserving candidate.

I recently had the privilege of talking with Sam as he reflected back on his 50 years in the industry. “It gets in your blood and you just can’t get rid of it,” said Sam Huff as he described his passion for turfgrass science. Sam first started helping out on the golf course when he was only 12 years old and was officially employed at age 16. His stepfather was a golf pro and he spent every summer on the course.

After high school Sam served four years in the United States Navy. Upon returning home, he took a job at a boxing plant but knew right away that it wasn’t for him. That is when he began working for KY-Inna Turf Supply Company. After about 6 years Sam returned to the golf course and worked as an assistant golf course superintendent and then as a golf course superintendent for many years.

“It takes a special person to be a golf course superintendent. It’s a hard industry and they work long hours for low pay,” explained Sam. Still, the hard work seemed worth it to him as he spoke about his time as a superintendent. “It’s rewarding when your golf course looks great.”

In 1991 Sam met Alex Cannon at Cannon Turf Supply and has been a part of this business ever since. “I enjoy the work; I enjoy the people and I enjoy being outside,” said Sam referring to his passion for this industry.

During our conversation, Sam explained how the industry has changed, “It used to be so personal and one-on-one.” Sam tries to keep it that way, but he has noticed a change in what is important to his customers. “The economy has made it difficult to maintain golf courses like we used to and superintendents are more price conscious than ever.” But after more than 50 years in the industry, Sam has the knowledge and experience to truly understand the problems his customers face. What is the thing that makes it all worth it to Sam? “Being good at it and being respected at what you do.”

Sam has served on the Kentucky Turfgrass Council board of directors. He has served on other boards and currently holds memberships in several other industry associations including KYSTMA, KIGCSA, Tri-State GCSA, and KNA Nursery. In his free time Sam enjoys spending time with his grandkids, playing golf, and refereeing high school basketball.

Sam was especially touched to have received this award from a dear friend in the industry, Dr. Powell, who passed away suddenly just one week after the conference. Sam met Dr. Powell back in 1975. “I will miss him dearly. He was my questions and answers guy.”

The award means a lot to Sam and to those who share his passion. A friend admitted to having tears in his eyes as he watched Sam accept the award. “It only took me 50 years,” joked Sam.

Written by: Dawn Bayles
Marketing Communications
Advanced Turf Solutions