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USGA names sustainability initiative for Mike Davis

By |  June 10, 2021 0 Comments

The USGA renamed its sustainability initiative the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management in honor of its outgoing CEO.

Gil Hanse (left), Mike Davis (center) and John Zimmer, then-Oakmont superintendent (right) at the 2016 U.S. Open. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

Gil Hanse (left), Mike Davis (center) and John Zimmer, then-Oakmont superintendent (right) at the 2016 U.S. Open.
(Photo: Golfdom Staff)

Formerly the Turfgrass Environmental Research Program (TERP), the initiative is the largest private grant program in golf dedicated to advancing innovation in sustainability and improving on-course experiences. USGA annually invests nearly $2 million in the program ($45 million to date), improving playing conditions, dramatically reducing costs and creating a more environmentally friendly game.

Davis joined the USGA in 1990 and has made a consistent, positive impact on the game.

“Mike Davis’ vision to lead the game forward through golf course sustainability has propelled the success of this program, ensuring that every golfer has a great playing experience and every owner has access to the latest innovations to manage their course,” USGA President Stu Francis said. “With his passion for golf courses and data-driven decision-making, we could not find a better program to share his name and inspire a sustainable future for golf.”

Founded in 1920, the USGA Green Section has fostered sustainable practices that have benefited the entire game. Its largest investments fund research focusing on science-based management practices, turfgrass innovation and environmental stewardship. The bulk of the 50-70 Davis Grants awarded annually go to land-grant universities and researchers from California to New Jersey and from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.

Using USGA research, course managers cut water usage by more than 20 percent and nutrient use by nearly 40 percent during the past decade. Courses save $1.86 billion each year by incorporating more natural areas on golf courses, managing water, developing best practices that reduce pesticide use and standardizing putting green construction.

Grant programs selected and improved turfgrasses such as bentgrass and bermudagrass to increase drought resistance, promote recycled water and smart irrigation use and improve playing conditions worldwide.

The association shares research through the free USGA Green Section Record and via Course Consulting Service visits by USGA agronomists and at regional and national industry conferences.

Davis joined the USGA as assistant manager of championship relations in 1990, becoming senior director of USGA Rules and Competitions in 2005. He became the USGA’s seventh executive director in 2011 and CEO in 2016.

A native of Chambersburg, Pa., Davis was the 1982 Pennsylvania State Junior golf champion and played NCAA Division I golf at Georgia Southern University. Last year, he announced his intent to leave the organization’s top post to pursue a personal career goal in golf architecture and design, with plans to depart the organization at the end of June 2021.

Researchers applying for a USGA Davis Grant must demonstrate how their work will achieve one of the three main USGA strategic program objectives: 

  • Optimizing sustainable golf course management and playing conditions
  • Protecting and conserving water resources
  • Identifying and developing novel plant materials

Cole Thompson, Ph.D., director of USGA turfgrass and environmental research, manages the program. The current deadline for grant funding is June 25, 2021. 



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