Required Reading  February 27, 2015

Required Reading 

By Chris Hartwiger and Patrick O’Brien, USGA SE Region Agronomists 
September 15, 2009

From time to time, we are asked for suggestions regarding our favorite turfgrass reference books.  While there is plenty of information online today, there is still nothing that compares to having something at your desk that you can refer to when needed.  There are many fantastic turfgrass-related books so whittling down the list of possibilities is not easy.  In fact, we will approach this list from the perspective of someone starting from scratch who wants to start a turfgrass library.  Keep in mind that our list may not be easy reading, instead these are references you will want to have on hand and refer to regularly.    

Turf Management for Golf Courses by Dr. James B. Beard

This one is considered to be the granddaddy of all texts for turf management on golf courses.  It blends the game of golf and turfgrass management better than any other.  Topics range from a historical look at golf and turfgrass, grass types, and management for all playing surfaces, construction, and irrigation. 

The power of this book can best be summed up in a story we heard Dr. Beard tell several years ago.  He had the opportunity to travel to a golf course under construction in the Pacific basin somewhere and was met by a construction leader holding Dr. Beard’s book.  Dr. Beard says the book was well worn with dirt on the pages, but it was the guide used for constructing the entire golf course.  Dr. Beard considers this one of his most gratifying moments in a long, productive career as a turfgrass scientist.  We can think of no other book that can be used in this way.

Turfgrass Soil Fertility and Chemical Problems:  Assessment and Management by Drs. R.N. Carrow, D.V. Waddington, and P.E. Rieke

Did you ever take a soil fertility class in college and become frustrated that the topics discussed, while relevant, were never a great fit for your passion of turf management on a golf course? Your frustration can now end.  These authors took a unique approach to this text.  In the preface, they described several guiding principles behind the structure of the book.  The first one was to use a field problem approach where not only are scientific principles taught, but they are applied to common field problems.  This is supplemented with practical information to help guide management decisions in the field.  Finally, they attempted to compile into one source all the information required to identify and manage soil fertility problems. 

Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality by Dr. Robert Carrow, Dr. Ronny Duncan, and Mike Huck

This 2009 book is an advancement over one of our favorites, Salt Affected Turfgrass Sites:  Assessment and Management.  In Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality, the authors review how to review water quality tests.  Irrigation water quality situations and management options are presented that will help the turf manager understand and deal with conditions ranging from ultrapure water to reclaimed water to seawater use.  Another section deals with management options for site-specific problems such as leaching, treatment, pond management, and irrigation system design.  Finally, case studies are offered which run through a review of sample water tests to specific recommendations for the site. 

The Green Section Record by the USGA Green Section

The USGA Web site states that “since 1921, the USGA Green Section has published information on the proper maintenance and upkeep of golf courses. The Green Section Record magazine, which many consider the authoritative voice on golf course management, debuted in its current form in May 1963. This bi-monthly publication offers the latest information on research, turfgrass culture, golf course management, and environmental issues.”  It will not be long before the USGA has been providing turfgrass management information for close to 100 years. 

One of the most unique aspects of the Green Section Record is the diversity of the authors each month.  There are articles in each issue written by different Green Section agronomists working in different parts of the country.  Guest articles appear in every issue, too, and these authors range from course officials, industry experts, architects, and more.  Research results play a prominent role in every issue as well with summaries of USGA-sponsored research. 

The Green Section Record is an excellent resource for course officials to turf students to superintendents and PhD level researchers, too.  There is something for everyone. 


We are living in an information age.  With so much available, sometimes it is difficult to know where to start.  Hopefully, we have shared with you what we believe to be a good starting point.  Now it’s time for you to read. 


Source: Patrick O'Brien 770-229-8125 or and Chris Hartwiger 205-444-5079 or