Stanley J. Zontek, regional director of U.S. Golf Association

Stanley J. Zontek
Stanley J. Zontek
Posted: September 05, 2012

Stanley J. Zontek, 63, of Avondale, director of the mid-Atlantic region of the Green Section of the U.S. Golf Association, died of a heart attack Tuesday, Aug. 28, at Chester County Hospital.

"Stanley will be missed tremendously by those of us at the USGA who knew him best and by the thousands of lives he touched outside the organization," USGA executive director Mike Davis said in a statement.

Davis said Mr. Zontek was "a world-renowned turfgrass expert" who won the 2007 crop and soil sciences outstanding alumni award from Pennsylvania State University, the 2006 Golf Course Superintendents Association distinguished service award, and the 1997 Don A. Rossi Award from the Golf Course Builders Association of America.

A sister, Sandra Stites, said Tuesday that working from offices in Glen Mills, Delaware County, Mr. Zontek visited golf courses on request to offer solutions to grass problems.

Though his office focused on the mid-Atlantic states, she said, he traveled the world to consult with golf course owners from the Czech Republic to Japan.

Born in Clarksburg, W. Va., Mr. Zontek earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy/turfgrass management from Penn State in 1971.

The attraction to a life of greens and fairways was a family matter.

"Our father started as a caddie and became a golf pro" in West Virginia, Mr. Zontek's sister said. When the family moved to the Philadelphia region, the father "was strictly a superintendent," in charge of maintaining courses.

Mr. Zontek joined the USGA in 1971 as an agronomist in the Northeast region, moved to its North Central region in 1980, and became mid-Atlantic director in 1985.

Most recently, she said, he worked closely with officials at Merion Golf Club, who are preparing for the 2013 U.S. Open.

Among his responsibilities, she said, was maintaining the quality of the putting green at the White House.

Mr. Zontek was a member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the British International Golf Greenkeepers Association. He was an honorary member of the St. Andrews Links in Scotland.

Besides his sister, Mr. Zontek is survived by sisters Mary Baker and Patricia Zelnik.

A private service was planned.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or

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