USGA and the R&A partner to improve sustainable golf course and turfgrass management efforts

By |  May 22, 2024 0 Comments

The Scandinavian Turfgrass and Environment Research Foundation (STERF), The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) have launched the International Turfgrass Research Initiative to further the advancement of sustainable approaches to golf course and turfgrass management.

The International Turfgrass Research Initiative is a legacy of the 14th International Turfgrass Research Conference (ITRC) hosted by STERF in collaboration with the International Turfgrass Society (ITS) in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2022. Development and sustainability were the themes of the conference and STERF and ITS agreed that investing in international turfgrass research would be the most appropriate legacy from ITRC in 2022.

Photo: USGA

Photo: USGA

“For golf and other turf sports that use land and nature as their sports arena, the challenges are many and diverse, and will strongly affect future operations,” said Maria Strandberg, director of STERF and past president of the International Turfgrass Society. “New research, competence and modification of standard approaches in the golf and turf sports sector are needed to conquer these challenges.”

Beginning later this year, multi-year research projects will be funded to develop practical solutions that can be adopted by those managing golf facilities and turfgrass areas, in response to the most pressing challenges facing the management of turfgrass and golf courses worldwide, including pest control, water conservation, preserving biodiversity and landscapes and understanding the climate impact on turfgrass and golf landscapes.

“We are aiming to positively influence standards and practice in sustainable agronomy through providing guidance and support to golf facilities so that they are better equipped to manage the impact that climate change and change in legislation can have on the maintenance of courses,” said Daniel Lightfoot, director of sustainable golf at the R&A.

A call for research proposals will be issued in May and a group of researchers will review submissions, practitioners and experts working in the field of golf course and turfgrass management. The successful applicants will be announced at the 15th International Turfgrass Research Conference held in Japan next year.

The International Turfgrass Research Initiative complements existing support already provided by each organization in using scientific research to inform practical solutions, such as Golf Course 2030, the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management and STERF Research Programs.

“The future of our game is dependent on the steps we take today,” said Cole Thompson, Ph.D., director of Green Section research at the USGA. “Alongside our colleagues at The R&A and STERF, we encourage international cooperation among scientists to align on important turfgrass management research topics. As stewards of the environment, we have a responsibility to develop innovative solutions that promote future sustainability, while also tackling the current critical challenges the industry faces. We’re excited to continue pushing the boundaries, not just domestically via our extensive USGA Green Section initiatives, but now with The R&A and STERF, aiming to create lasting impacts for generations of golfers to come.”

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