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USGA’s turfgrass research makes positive impact on golfs enjoyability

By |  February 24, 2022 0 Comments
Headshot: Mike Kenna

Mike Kenna, Ph.D.

The USGA has invested more than $45 million in turfgrass and environmental research since 1983. Golf’s governing body continues to provide $2 million annually on research that provides better playing conditions, significant cost savings and a more environmentally friendly game. The USGA program was recently renamed the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management.

Program accomplishments include research-based management practices that have contributed to the efficient use of water, fertilizer and pesticides on U.S. golf courses.

The USGA contracted Fleishman-Hillard’s True Global Intelligence research division to conduct an online survey to estimate the research program’s impact and to assess the golf industry’s resource and economic benefits from the USGA’s investment in water, fertilizer and pesticide management research.

The survey focused on the benefits associated with golf facilities’ adoption of research-based management practices in six primary areas of interest: (a) ET-based irrigation scheduling (i.e., water budgeting), (b) soil moisture sensing, (c) best management practices (BMPs) that reduce nonpoint source pollution by fertilizers and pesticides, (d) putting green construction techniques, (e) naturalized roughs and (f) improved turfgrass cultivars.

The USGA’s Cole Thompson, Ph.D., in cooperation with Donald Kridel, Ph.D., Department of Economics, University of Missouri, St. Louis, penned a peer-reviewed article for the International Turfgrass Research Society Journal. Because of length restrictions, the authors discuss the first three areas in their paper.

Based on data from the survey, they developed multiple econometric models for each management practice. The results indicate that the U.S. golf industry has widely adopted USGA research on water budgeting, soil moisture sensing and pollution BMPs.

Photo:

Graphic: Mike Kenna, Ph.D.

Across the three management practices studied, modeling indicated a total annual financial benefit of $1.03 billion to the golf industry. This estimate compares well with the yearly Green Section budget of roughly $10 million, of which $2 million is for turfgrass and environmental research.

As golf’s governing body, maintaining a leadership role in addressing turfgrass management and environmental issues is paying significant dividends. The USGA and its partnership with land grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will keep golf sustainable and enjoyable to those who play the game.

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