Mark Wilson’s mentorship in developing future golf professionals through Ferris State University’s PGA Golf Management program, the first of its kind sanctioned and accredited by the PGA, has earned him significant acclaim.
At the 2023 Michigan PGA Spring Meeting at Eagle Eye Golf Course in East Lansing, Wilson received the Bill Strausbaugh Award, presented to a PGA professional whose day-to-day work distinguishes them through the mentorship of fellow PGA professionals to improve their employment status through community service. Established in 1979, the award honors Strausbaugh, a Middle Atlantic PGA Master Professional who died in 1999.
A PGA Master Professional and 2007 Michigan Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Wilson is the Player Development Director in the PGA Golf Management program, established in 1975. Wilson previously received the PGA of America Horton Smith Award, in 2008, in recognition of his contributions to the PGA Education Program nationally.
“Being recognized by my fellow professionals for mentoring and making a difference in their careers is tremendously gratifying,” Wilson said. “I hope to be able to offer this assistance for many years to come.”
In 2008, Wilson was chosen for the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he became one of the 12 original inductees in the Michigan PGA Hall of Fame.
Before becoming the Player Development Director of Ferris’ PGA Golf Management program, Wilson spent 31 years as the Head Golf Professional at Watermark Country Club in Grand Rapids. He remains actively involved in PGA Education and Rules of Golf Activities. Wilson has served as a Rules Official at 30 PGA Championships, 22 Masters Tournaments, seven British Opens, seven U.S. Opens and 11 Ryder Cup Matches. Additionally, Wilson served as the chair of the PGA Rules Committee from 2005 to 2010. During that period, Wilson was rules chair for six PGA Championships and was the chief referee at the 2008 and 2016 Ryder Cup Matches.
Wilson brought his professional experience to leadership roles in Ferris’ PGA Golf Management program in 2013 and served as the program’s interim director from 2020 through the end of 2022. At Ferris, Wilson has classroom responsibilities and delivers PGA Golf Management-specific content covering golf facility management, teaching and coaching in three levels of PGA education. During the fall semester, Wilson teaches a class in private club management for Ferris’ Hospitality Program.
Wilson is also an advisor to the PGAGM Student Association, which conducts tournaments and educational activities for PGA Golf Management students and engages in community service.
Bobby Fleischman, Ferris' provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said this award is also a point of pride for the PGA Golf Management program, in the Ferris College of Business.
“Mark winning the Bill Strausbaugh Award speaks highly of him, his reputation in golf in the state of Michigan and beyond, and the impact he is having on our program, our students, our alumni and many others,” Fleischman said. “Mark truly works daily to train and mentor current and future professionals. Professionals like Mark are critical to the work done in our PGA Golf Management program. We’re pleased that Ferris State University is not alone in recognizing his ongoing contributions.”
Ferris’ PGA Golf Management program, with 2,000-plus alums nationwide, is the original in the country and one of only 18 nationally. PGA Golf Management students have a 100 percent job placement rate as head golf professionals, directors of golf, general managers and golf instructors. In addition, program students benefit from Ferris’ Katke Golf Course and the new Ken Janke Sr. Golf and Learning Center, with over 10,000 square feet of top-notch technology, including six Trackman simulators for year-round golf learning.
Several Ferris alums received recognition at the 2023 Michigan PGA Spring Meeting. Alumnus Doug Bell, class of 1989, received the Golf Professional of the Year; Scott Wilson, class of 1997, received the Teacher and Coach of the Year Award; Ian Ziska, class of 2001, received the Patriot Award; Stefan Niezgoda, class of 2006, was presented the Merchandiser of the Year-Resort Award; and Raquel Bryant, class of 2009, received the Youth Player Development Award.