Selecting Turfgrass Research for the Golf Course August 4, 2015

The USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee visits with University of Georgia faculty and graduate students about funded research projects. 

In August, the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee (TERC) will select new research proposals to fund, continuing the USGA’s efforts to fund, direct and disseminate research that assures the long-term viability of golf. The USGA has a long history of supporting turfgrass and environmental research.

In 1920, when the USGA funded its first turfgrass research, the "Green Section" was part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Initially, USDA scientists focused research efforts on “the scientific and technical aspects of turfgrass maintenance.” In 1946, the Green Section became a department within the USGA, sharing the research mission of the USDA. Since 1920, the USGA has provided more than $40 million of funding for turfgrass research, most of which has supported graduate students at universities across the U.S. In fact, many turfgrass professors received funding from the USGA as graduate students or have received a USGA grant as university researchers. The USGA also has a long history of supporting turfgrass breeding at several universities, and some of the turfgrasses on your golf course likely originated from one of several USGA-funded turfgrass breeding projects.

The process of selecting new research projects to begin funding in 2016 actually started in April 2015 when the USGA Green Section issued a call for proposals. This year, 60 research proposals – requesting a total of $4 million in funding – were submitted by universities across the U.S. Staff from the USGA Green Section Research Program assembled the proposals into a 375-page book for each member of the TERC to read and evaluate.

Every member of the TERC will rate each proposal on a 1-9 scale and make a case for funding, or not funding, each project. Once rated by each committee member, the proposals will be ranked according to average rating. Also, the TERC will discuss each proposal – noting comments pertaining to scientific soundness, funding and how important the research is to golf – before selecting which research projects will receive funding.

Each year, based on available funds, the TERC accepts the top 15 to 20 ranked projects, resulting in a three-year funding commitment from the USGA of $1 million.

The USGA searches for improved turfgrasses or management practices that conserve natural resources. You and the golfers at your course are the beneficiaries of USGA funded research.


Source: Clark Throssell, Ph.D.

Clark Throssell, Ph.D., is a member of the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee and the former director of the Purdue University turf program. He was the director of research for GCSAA and is currently the research editor for Golfdom, focusing on managing the Super Science section of the magazine. He also contributes his "Clark Talks Turf" column to Golfdom every month.


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