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 firstname.lastname@example.org.