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A lifetime of service: Kevin Black wins award for 21 years as superintendent of Prairie View Golf Links

WORTHINGTON -- Prairie View Golf Links superintendent Kevin Black was given the Lifetime Award during a convention in Sioux Falls, S.D., for his dedication to the industry, concluding his long career.

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Kevin Black won an award for his 21 years of service. Tim Middagh/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON - Prairie View Golf Links superintendent Kevin Black was given the Lifetime Award during a convention in Sioux Falls, S.D., for his dedication to the industry, concluding his long career. 

Black was given the award at the Golf Course Superintendent Association of South Dakota’s Annual Turf Conference on March 1 for his 21-year tenure at Prairie View. Black was previously a superintendent for the Municipal Golf Course in Spencer, Iowa, for nearly 15 years.
He was nominated by Adrian Country Club Superintendent Dave Wempen and Worthington Country Club Superintendent Bob Wethor.
“I wasn’t even paying attention and then I heard Bob call out my name and then I started paying attention,” Black said, chuckling. “I am extremely honored to be recognized by my peers.”
“Kevin has always been a great colleague. We always bounce ideas off each other and we have always helped each other,” Wethor said. “He is a great guy, and he really deserved the award.”
Black’s wife, Jennifer Black, told him she was attending a party that night so she could make a surprise appearance at the conference. She was informed prior to the event of her husband’s achievement by Wempen and planned to make the night extra special for him.

“It was an emotional night for me,” she said. “He has been working at golf courses for over 30 years, and this is his last year. He would have continued to work as a superintendent if Prairie View didn’t close. It was kind of sentimental.”
While he was a superintendent, Black received Audubon certification. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf teaches students how to minimize potentially harmful practices in maintaining a golf course to protect wildlife.
“He’s very aware what his role is in protecting the land,” Jennifer said. “I’m very proud of everything he has accomplished.”
While Black still works for Prairie View, he hasn’t been performing his usual duties of late. Instead of spotting signs of fungus growth and pests and watering and mowing the turf, he is helping decommission the course and prepare things on the property from sod to irrigation equipment to be sold.
“It’s a thought I’m still getting used to,” he said. “You know, you get attached to something after caring for it for 21 years.”
Black learned how to golf when he was 10 years old and later taught all three of his children how to play.
“When you’re married to a superintendent, your whole life revolves around the golf course and what season it is,” Jennifer said. “The entire Black family will miss golf being a part of our daily lives.”
“The industry takes a hit when you lose someone with that type of experience,” said Richard Wit, the executive director of the Golf Course Superintendent Association of South Dakota.
“Several years ago, one of our meetings was in Worthington,” he added. “We played there, and it was in great shape.”
Black said after his final year at Prairie View is complete, he intends to explore a different career away from golf courses.
“I moved here to work on a golf course,” Black said. “I’ve enjoyed working in Worthington. I will value all the friendships I’ve made through Prairie Golf for all of time.”
“He had an impeccable reputation as a superintendent, and I think that is evident by him having received the award,” said Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson.
“He will be missed in the golf course industry for sure,” Wit said.

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