Highlights From The USGA Green Section Internship Program July 22, 2013 By Patrick O’Brien

USGA Green Section interns Colton Jones (second from left) and Phillip Bruner (third from left) attend a Turfgrass Advisory Service visit in the Charlotte, N.C. area. This discussion focused on sunlight analysis for a future putting green conversion project to ultradwarf bermudagrass.

Every year the USGA Green Section offers a turfgrass management internship where student interns are selected to travel with USGA Green Section agronomists in every region of the country. The selection process begins with each university with a turfgrass management program nominating one candidate, which can be either undergraduate or graduate students, for the internship. Nominated students then interview with regional USGA agronomists. The selection process is very competitive. A goal of the internship is to expose the future leaders of the turfgrass industry to experiences they may not otherwise gain in their academic training. We hope these experiences will benefit them both as they complete their education and throughout their careers.

During the week of July 15, Phillip Bruner from Auburn University and Colton Jones of the University of Tennessee-Martin traveled with us for a week in the Charlotte, N.C. area. The week’s activities included attendance at Turf Advisory Service visits to golf facilities; meetings with course officials and members, managers and golf professionals; and even a pre-championship visit for the 2014 U.S. Open and Women’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort (Course No. 2). During most evenings, the students were able to meet with local superintendents and their staffs, and leading industry representatives.

Highlights of the Turfgrass Advisory Service visits included the following topics:

  • Managing bermudagrass rough during a hot and rainy summer. The students witnessed firsthand how weather impacts mowing schedules and the difficulties of catching up with rough mowing programs.
  • Divot recovery on tees with limited size. Practice is more popular than ever but the turf never grows back fast enough on small tees despite best management practices by the turf maintenance staff.
  • Converting bentgrass to ultradwarf bermudagrass. The students were involved in sunlight analysis, discussions of conversion strategies, and basic surface management practices.
  • On-course training with crew members. On the golf course, we reviewed basic Rules of Golf topics, course marking and selecting hole locations with interested crew members. We also reviewed the proper use of numerous tools carried by USGA agronomists including the TruFirm, Stimpmeter, SmartTool digital level and soil moisture meters.
  • Championship visit to Pinehurst Resort (Course No. 2). The students were able to observe the many changes that are contributing to the sustainability of golf at Pinehurst Resort as well as how Course No. 2 will be prepared for the 2014 U.S. Open and 2014 U.S. Women’s Open.

The USGA summer internship is a fun and educational experience, and 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 adviser. For more information, please click on USGA Green Section Summer Internship Program

Source: Patrick O’Brien ( and Chris Hartwiger (

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff