The following is excerpted from Monroe Miller’s article
written on November 6, 2012 and published in Golf Course Industry magazine
on October 4, 2013. To read the entire article, please click
Charlie Wilson is a member of the “greatest
generation.” World War II broke out while his family was living in Washington,
D.C. He enlisted in the Navy, served 37 months in the Pacific and at one point
served under a guy who later became U.S. President – John F. Kennedy. The war
ended and Charlie returned home and enrolled in the University of Maryland.
Despite an urban upbringing, he chose agriculture as his major and area of
Washington’s nicer neighborhoods got him to wondering if some of the residents
might need help with their yard work. Cold calls led to a lawn business, a nice
supplement to his GI Bill. He soon figured out he needed to know more about
grass and turf, a conclusion that led him to the USDA Plant Industry Section in
Beltsville, Md., just a short distance away. At that time the USGA Green
Section had an office there. The resources on turf science and practices were
extensive, but rules wouldn’t allow reading material to leave the building. So
Charlie was there for many hours, reading past Green Section Records, other
journals and books. He was fascinated by the literature and the science of
Dr. Fred Grau, The
Green Section Director, couldn’t help but take an interest in Charlie, going so
far as to offer him a summer job. To do so, Charlie hired college kids to keep
his lawn care business going and stuck with the USGA job, too, until he
graduated in 1950 with a B.S. degree in agronomy. It was at this time that Dr.
Grau and the USGA offered him a job as a full-time agronomist.
He stayed in
Maryland for about a year before he was reassigned to California to gauge
interest out there in a visiting agronomist service for USGA member clubs.
There indeed was, and Charlie opened the first office of the Turf Advisory
Service in Davis. From there he covered California as well as all of the states
east to Colorado.
Three years after
Charlie had opened the Davis office, the well-traveled O.J. Noer hired him and
Charlie moved to Wisconsin. And as they say, the rest is history. Charlie spent
the next quarter century with Milorganite and retired in 1979.
Charlie Wilson has
a pioneering place in our industry’s turfgrass profession. And in a sense, all
of the Green Section agronomists since him are his descendants.
Monroe Miller is a retired golf
course superintendent. He spent 36 years as superintendent at Blackhawk Country
Club in Madison, Wis. He continues to serve as a USGA Green Section