Green Research

The research projects funded by the USGA break down into five categories:
Integrated Turfgrass Management

The golf course superintendent and staff work diligently to provide the best playing conditions possible; however, proper course management today also requires conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Twenty-two studies funded at $1,406,065 over five years are underway to evaluate reduced pesticide use, increase our understanding of plant disease and insect pests, provide better plant resistance to both pest and climatic stresses, and improve overall management techniques for new and improved turf cultivars.

Physiology, Genetics and Breeding

The Nobel Prize-winning chemist Robert F. Curl of Rice University spoke for many of his colleagues in science when he proclaimed that the 20th century was "the century of physics and chemistry. But it is clear that the next century will be the century of biology." Thirty investigations funded at $1,892,323 over five years are ushering biotechnology into turfgrass species used for golf. This initial effort, along with conventional plant breeding improvements in bentgrass and bermudagrass, will enable scientists to reduce pesticide use in the long term. The USGA continues to collect and evaluate other promising grass species, such as seashore paspalum and inland saltgrass, which will allow poor quality water to be used in coastal and desert climates.

Golf Course Construction

For putting green turf to provide a fast surface and remain healthy, it must have adequate aeration, fertility, and moisture, while resisting compaction from foot and vehicular traffic. Over the last eight years, the USGA has funded research to better understand the physical, chemical, and biological nature of sand-based rootzones, as well as factors that affect the behavior of sands and sand mixes. Two studies are currently funded at $180,000 to evaluate the use of geotextiles and subsurface drainage systems, as well as subsurface irrigation technology to reduce construction costs and conserve water.

Environmental Impact

This area of research includes three distinct groups of studies. First, Fate and Transport research helps us understand what happens to pesticides and fertilizers applied to golf course turf. Today, the Green Section is sought after by government organizations to help provide guidance on policies concerning the registration and regulation of pesticides. Research efforts continue to evaluate entire golf course watersheds for their effects on water quality. Five studies funded at $662,031 over the five years address important environmental fate issues. The second area includes the Wildlife Links Program which is conducted in cooperation with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. These studies focus on the effect of golf course maintenance activities on birds, fish, amphibians and insect pollinators that are common to the wildlife habitat golf courses provide. The USGA contributes $100,000 per year to help co-fund seven studies National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Third, the USGA funds the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program ( at $100,000 per year.


The USGA is involved in a wide range of activities that will affect the management of golf courses in the future. The Green Section funds small studies at the suggestion of its agronomists to solve regional turfgrass problems on golf courses. The Green Section worked closely with the Council for the Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) panel that conducted the conference on "Water Quality and Quantity Issues for Turfgrasses in Urban Agriculture." The USGA assisted in the development of the Turfgrass Research Initiative, a long-term funding request to the US Congress for increasing the efforts of the USDA Agricultural Research Services in turfgrass research. To date, the US Congress has appropriated more than $3 million for research on important turfgrass problems. The USGA also works closely with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Turfgrass Producers International, and the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program on two to three studies each year.

Every year golf course superintendents are introduced to new products in the marketplace. Without results from properly designed, objective research, superintendents are asked to make buying decisions based on word-of-mouth, previous experience from colleagues, or the representative of the product. Several surveys indicate that golf course superintendents desire side-by-side product evaluations to assist them in making product purchases. The result of this desire for this type of information is the Product Testing Program section of USGA's Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program. Currently, USGA is funding three projects that fall into this category of USGA-supported research.

2006-2010 Turfgrass and Environmental Research Grants

Project Area


Grant $

% Total

Integrated Turfgrass Management




Physiology, Breeding and Genetics




Course Construction




Environmental Impact












Integrated Turfgrass Management - $1,100,717 over five years. The following projects were funded in 2008.

Project Title



Biological and Biorational Management Options for the Annual Bluegrass Weevil on Golf Courses

Rutgers University

Development of Best Management Practices for Anthracnose Disease on Annual Bluegrass Putting Green Turf

Rutgers University

Relative Pathogenicity and Fungicide Sensitivity of Isolates of Rhizoctonia and Other Fungal Pathogens and the Disease Responses of Seashore Paspalum and Zoysiagrass Cultivars

University of Florida

Natural Enemies and Site Characteristics Affecting Distribution and Abundance of Native and Invasive White Grubs on Golf Courses

University of Kentucky

Interpreting and Forecasting Phenology of the Annual Bluegrass Weevil in Golf Course Landscapes

Cornell University

Seasonal Life History and Suitability of Horticultural Plants as Nectar Sources for Larra bicolor, a Parasitoid of Mole Crickets in the Northern Gulf Coast

Mississippi State University

Rooting and Carbohydrate Metabolism in Creeping Bentgrass Putting Greens in Response to Summer Irrigation and Aeration

University of Maryland

Infection and Colonization of Bermudagrass by Ophiosphaerella herpotricha, the Causal Agent of Spring Dead Spot

Oklahoma State University

Silicon Amendment: A Component of an Integrated Gray Leaf Spot Management Strategy

Pennsylvania State University

Optimization of Foliar Nitrogen Nutrition to Improve Turf Performance Under Energy Stress

University of Illinois

Use of a Baculovirus for Season-long Control of Black Cutworms on Golf Courses and Compatability with Soil Insecticides and Insect-resistant Turfgrasses

University of Kentucky

Accurate Identification and Gene Expression in Relation to Virulence of Rhizoctonia Isolates Infecting Turfgrasses


Mole Cricket Sensory Perception of Insecticides

University of Florida

The Efficacy of Spring Fungicide Applications Plus Organic Fertilizer for Controlling Spring Dead Spot of Bermudagrass

Mississippi State University

Developing Best Management Practices for Bermudagrass Control in Zoysiagrass Fairways

Auburn University

Salinity Management in Effluent Water Irrigated Turfgrass Systems

Colorado State University

Cultural Practices, Environment, and Pathogen Biology: Studies for Improved Management of Large Patch of Zoysiagrass

Kansas State University

Optimizing Oriental Beetle Mating Disruption through a Better Understanding of the Beetle's Dispersal Behaviors

Rutgers University


Improvement of Water Management Strategies and Practices

National Turfgrass Federation


Enhancement of Soil and Soil Managaement Practices

National Turfgrass Federation and Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center


Physiology, Genetics and Breeding - $1,431,748 over five years. The following projects were funded in 2008.

Project Title



Identification of the Colonial Bentgrass Contribution to Dollar Spot Resistance in Colonial x Creeping Bentgrass Interspecific Hybrids

Rutgers University

A Bentgrass Breeding Consortium to Support the Golf Industry

University of Massachusetts USDA-ARS Rutgers University University of Wisconsin, and Michigan State University

Development of Seeded Turf-type Saltgrass Varieties

Colorado State University

Perennial Ryegrass Anti-freeze Protein Genes Enhances Freezing Tolerance in Plants

Iowa State University

Breeding and Evaluation of Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, and Bentgrass for Turf

Rutgers University

Production, Maintenance, and Evaluation of Triploid Interspecific Bermudagrass Hybrids for QTL Analysis

University of Georgia

Resistant Turfgrasses for Improved Chinch Bug Management on Golf Courses

University of Nebraska

Development and Application of Molecular Markers Linked to Heat Tolerance in Agrostis Species

Rutgers University

Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) Mapping of Resistance to Gray Leaf Spot in Lolium

University of Massachusetts

Breeding and Evaluation of Turf Bermudagrass Varieties

Oklahoma State University

Accelerated Discovery of Cynodon Genes and DNA Markers by cDNA Sequencing

University of Georgia

Multiple Stress Tolerance, Seed Dormancy Breaking, and Establishment of Seeded Saltgrass

Colorado State University

Breeding Seashore Paspalum for Recreational Turf Use

University of Georgia

Germplasm Development and Management of Buffalograss Varieties

University of Nebraska

Genetic Improvement of Prairie Junegrass

University of Minnesota

Evaluating Poverty Grass (Danthonia spicata L.) for Use in Tees, Fairways, or Rough Areas in Golf Courses in the Midwest

University of Missouri

Evaluation of Perennial Ryegrass, Creeping Bentgrass and Kentucky Bluegrass Cultivars for Salt Tolerance

Rutgers University

Confirmation of QTL Markers for Dollar Spot Resistance in Creeping Bentgrass

Rutgers University

Linking Drought Tolerance Traits and Candidate Genes in Perennial Ryegrass through Association Mapping

Purdue University

Selection of Bermudagrass Germplasm that Exhibits Potential Shade Tolerance and Identification of Techniques for Rapid Selection of Potential Shade Tolerant Cultivars

Oklahoma State University

Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) Associated with Drought and Heat Tolerance in Creeping Bentgrass

Rutgers University


Evaluation of the New England Velvet Bentgrass Collection

University of Rhode Island, University of Massachusetts


Vegetative Production of Greens-type Poa annua Cultivars

Pennsylvania State University


Evaluation and Development of Poa Germplasm for Salt Tolerance

Utah State Univ


Collection, Enhancement and Preservation of Turfgrass Germplasm

National Turfgrass Federation


Breeding Turf-Type Annual Ryegrass for Salinity Tolerance

Texas A&M Univ


Bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) Cultivar Response to the Sting Nematode (Belonalaimus longicaudatus)

University of Florida


Collection and Evaluation of Native Grasses from Grazed Arid Environments for Turfgrass Development

University of Arizona


Golf Course Construction - $180,000 over five years. The following project was funded in 2008.

Project Title



A Comparison of Water Drainage and Storage in Putting Greens Built Using Airfield Systems and USGA Methods of Construction

Texas A&M University

Environmental Impact -$729,631 over five years. The following were projects funded in 2008.

Project Title



The Pesticide Matrix Project: Developing a Data Base Tool to Guide Environmentally Responsible Pesticide Selection

University of Illinois, Environmental and Turf Services, and Cornell University

Utilizing Reduce Risk Pesticides and IPM Strategies to Mitigate Golfer Exposure and Hazard

University of Massachusetts

Optimization of Vegetative Filter Strips for Mitigation of Runoff from Golf Course Turf

University of Massachusetts

Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fate in a 10+ Year Old Kentucky Bluegrass Turf

Michigan State University

Attenuation of harmaceuticals, Personal Care Products, and Endocrine-disrupting Compounds by Golf Courses Using Reuse Water

Northern California Golf Association

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses

Audubon International

Reproductive Success and Habitat Use of Painted Buntings on Golf Courses in Coastal South Carolina

Clemson University and Low Country Institute

Abundance and Diversity of Stream Salamanders on Golf Courses

University of Missouri

Brown-headed Nuthatch Enhancement Study

Davidson College

Avian Pesticide Exposure on Golf Courses

The College of William and Mary

Puget Sound Salmon-Safe Golf Course Program

Stewardship Partners

Using Buffer Zones to Promote Amphibian Populations

Miami University

Population and Community Responses of Reptiles to Golf Courses

University of Arizona

Outreach - $581,000 over five years. The following projects were funded in 2008.

Project Title



Assessing the Usefulness of Physical Water Conditioning Products to Improve Turfgrass Quality and Reduce Irrigation Water Use

New Mexico State University

Preventive and Curative Control of Algae on Putting Greens Using Products Other than Daconil

University of Connecticut

Bermudagrass Control Programs in Kentucky Bluegrass

Virginia Polytechnic and State University

Organic Matter Dilution Programs for Sand-based Putting Greens

Virginia Polytechnic and State University and University of Connecticut

Impact of Sand Type and Application Rate of Fairway Topdressing on Soil Physical Properties, Turfgrass Quality, Disease Severity, and Earthworm Castings

University of Connecticut

Best Management Practices for the Conversion of Established Bermudagrass to Buffalograss

Texas Tech University

Comparison of Chlorothalonil, Propiconazole, and Iprodione Products for Control of Dollar Spot and Brown Patch Diseases

Pennsylvania State University

Identification, Pathogenicity, and Control of Leaf and Sheath Blight of Bermudagrass Putting Greens

Clemson University

Nitrogen Nutrition of Distichlis (Saltgrass) under Normal and Salinity Stress Conditions Using 15N

University of Arizona

Leaf Cuticle Characteristics and Foliar Nutrient Uptake by a Cool-season and Warm-season Turfgrass

University of Arkansas

Evaluation of Plant Growth Regulators and Biostimulants for Use in Managing Summer Bentgrass Decline

Rutgers University

Evaluation of Cytokinian Plant Extract Biostimulants, Iron, and Nitrogen Products for Their Effect on Creeping Bentgrass Summer Quality

Chicago District Golf Association and University of Maryland

2007 Buffalograss Experimental Line and Cultivar Evaluation

University of Nebraska

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