Chad Blank grew up around a golf course. His parents, Thomas and Patrice Blank, owned and operated Lake Miltona Golf Club.

He learned about overseeing a golf course by helping out his parents. That experience sparked Blank’s interest, and he decided to forge a similar career path.

The 2016 graduate of Alexandria Area High School has been named the winner of the Mendenhall Award. It is the top honor in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America's 2019 Scholars Competition, which recognizes outstanding college students planning careers in golf course management.

Blank, a senior at North Dakota State University, is majoring in horticulture with an emphasis in sports and urban turfgrass management, and minoring in economics.

He is on the executive team for student government at NDSU, and as the executive commissioner of finance is charged with overseeing and distributing the $3.8 million student activity fee to various departments and student organizations, in collaboration with the assistant executive commissioner of finance and the Finance Commission. Blank is also president of the school's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter.

“Winning the Mendenhall Award means everything to me,” he said. “It is humbling to know this benefits the next generation of golf course managers and that there is a focus on assisting students. This will inspire me to become a more active member.”

The award is named for the late Chet Mendenhall, who was a charter member of GCSAA, its president in 1948 and a recipient of its Distinguished Service Award in 1986.

The scholars competition is funded primarily by the Robert Trent Jones Endowment and is administered by the Environmental Institute for Golf, GCSAA’s philanthropic organization.

Applicants must be enrolled in a recognized undergraduate program in a major field related to turf management, have completed at least 24 credit hours or the equivalent of one year of full-time study in the appropriate major, and be a member of GCSAA. Winners are chosen based on academic excellence, work experience, extracurricular activities and potential to become a leading professional in the golf course management industry.

Blank has interned for Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska and The Maidstone Club in East Hampton, N.Y. He conducted routine daily maintenance and improvement projects, taught seasonal workers, and gained hands-on experience with championship conditioning.

This past July, he interned with the United States Golf Association in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Mendenhall Award was the top scholarship of 19 that were awarded. Along with the $6,000 scholarship, Blank will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2020 Golf Industry Show, Jan. 25-30 in Orlando.