This award recognizes "an extension service professional who has significantly enhanced the well-being of the citizens of South Carolina and beyond and has provided exemplary service to his or her field on behalf of Clemson University," according to the Clemson Alumni Association.
Martin graduated from Hendrix College in Arkansas, with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and later attended North Carolina State University for a Ph.D. in plant pathology. Employed at Clemson for 26 years, Martin has focused his research and extension program on "identifying and managing diseases on golf courses using multiple tactics."
Since South Carolina is located in a transition zone, it is possible to grow both cool and warm season turf grasses, though both come under stress during their respective "weak" times – summer for cool season and winter for warm season. Because of the diversity of grasses, Martin has become experienced in disease control across a variety of grasses, as well as learning the management required.
Martin focuses his work on golf courses, though he has also worked on football and baseball fields. Throughout his career, he has travelled to courses used by major PGA figures, such as Pinehurst and Augusta National. Much of his research and outreach programs are conducted on the Clemson golf course.
Martin’s research has had several breakthroughs. Specifically, the identification that the Rhizoctonia fungi does not only cause on disease, but can cause "several bona fide different diseases."
Martin was also part of a team of scientists who identified a new turf disease, dubbed "Rapid Blight." This new disease was caused by a unique organism called a "Marine Slime Mold," and Martin would eventually "determine that a new fungicide, as well as an older chemical, was effective in control, as well as the reduction of salt in irrigation water, which was driving the epidemics."
Among Martin’s other accomplishments are his reception of the Outstanding Service Award from the North Carolina Turfgrass Council, being named Outstanding Plant Pathologist by the American Phytopathological Society and being named one of the 10 Most Influential People in South Carolina Golf by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.
Martin began a turfgrass disease diagnostic clinic at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C. This center allows training for extension agents, golf course superintendents and sod producers in turfgrass.
Martin has been working on developing "strategic fungicide control programs for golf putting greens in bent grass and bermudagrass greens." Martin recently traveled to Japan to present this research to Japanese golf course superintendents and train them on how to adapt his research and ideas to their situations.
Because of his research, Martin has traveled around the world, presenting his research and assisting with golf course management regarding the grass health, including places such as Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Argentina and the United Kingdom.