Highlights From The USGA Green Section Summer Internship Program September 2, 2014 By Patrick O'Brien

USGA summer interns Zack London (first from left), Patrick Douglas (second from left) and Jesse Benelli (third from left) attend a USGA Course Consulting Service visit in the Charlotte, N.C. area. This discussion focused on core aeration and topdressing programs and their impact on the upper regionalUpdateContentzone of putting greens.

Every year, the USGA Green Section selects summer interns from universities offering turfgrass management degrees. The goal of the summer internship program is to provide future leaders in the turfgrass industry with experiences they may not otherwise have been exposed to during their academic training.

During the week of July 20, Patrick Douglas from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Jesse Benelli from the University of Tennessee, and Zack London from Oklahoma State University, traveled with the Southeast Region agronomists in the Charlotte, N.C. area. Highlights from the week included participating in several Course Consulting Service visits, attendance at a Green Committee meeting with club officials, and daily interaction with general managers, golf professionals and other course officials and members.

The Course Consulting Service visits included the following topics:

  • Addressing tree problems and how too many trees can negatively impact both turfgrass and tree development.
  • Poor drainage on a practice tee limits golfer practice time. Practice tees on heavy clay soils without adequate surface and internal drainage are not acceptable to golfers. In the example viewed, the only solution was a capital project to rebuild the tee by removing the clay soil and installing a sand-based regionalUpdateContentzone with internal drainage. Sometimes solutions to problems are neither easy nor inexpensive.
  • Converting bentgrass to ultradwarf bermudagrass on the putting greens at a public course. Two years ago a public course converted to bermudagrass to reduce costs and change its failing business model. The facility now makes a significant profit in a very competitive golf market. The success of this project allowed this golf facility to shift its focus on other objectives, such as pace of play.
  • The benefits of forward tees. On another public golf course, the focus was again on pace of play and the benefit of adding new forward tees. The time it takes to play 18 holes of golf is becoming more restrictive to the golfing clientele. Forward tees allow high-handicap players more opportunities for birdies and pars, and at the same time improve the pace of play.
  • Many management practices for bentgrass putting greens don’t necessarily apply to bermudagrass greens. The students were able to observe how switching to triplex mowers from hand mowers can be a viable solution. Bermudagrass greens can accommodate triplex mowers much better than bentgrass. A problem with walk mowing is the time and expense of giving the bermudagrass what it needs – i.e., double mowing on a daily basis. Double walk mowing greens may be too exhaustive in terms of manpower and the ability to stay ahead of play. The use of triplex mowers and a new mowing strategy can improve the overall management of bermudagrass greens.

The USGA summer internship is a rewarding and enjoyable educational experience. We encourage all eligible undergraduate students at four-year baccalaureate turf management programs, or graduate students majoring in horticulture, agronomy, or a related field to seek out this opportunity through their academic advisor. For more information, please click on USGA Green Section Summer Internship Program

Source: Patrick O’Brien ( and Chris Hartwiger (

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff