Golf Course Management

APR 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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THE INSIDER: environment Mark Johnson Investing in research Golf without research would be like … what? NEWS & notes Richard Louv, who is the founder of the Children & Nature Network and the author of "The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age," says that maintaining nature in the modern urban world has the power to heal human hearts and prevent violence. Louv says he bases his claim on a "growing body of mainly correlative scientific evidence, with a tight focus on the impact of nearby nature." He offers the following reasons why meaningful relationships with nature may — in concert with other approaches — bolster mental health and civility: • Green exercise improves psychological health, according to a report by researchers at the University of Essex. In addition to improving psychological well-being, the researchers say, green exercise generates physical health benefits and builds social networks. • Other species help children develop empathy, says Cherie L. Spehar, a licensed clinical social worker and play therapist. • Greater biodiversity in cities can increase social and family bonding, say scientists at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., who report that the more species that live in a green space, the greater the psychological benefits to human beings. Presented in partnership with Aquatrols 36 GCM April 2013 Stop to think about what the game of golf, golf course development, course renovation or operations/maintenance would be without university research. The bad news is that funding for university turfgrass research has been on the decline. The good news is there's an opportunity to help. Everyone should know that university research directly provides business value at a golf facility. Dan Dinelli, CGCS at Chicago-area North Shore Country Club and a third-generation superintendent, provides insight on the importance of turfgrass research for our industry. "Effectively managing a landscape, like a golf course, requires a working knowledge in the sciences of plant health," he says. "I think of responsible stewardship as the art of applying science to favor turf's ecology as a sustainable playing surface for golf. Science offers the practitioner the knowledge, tools and technology to address the challenges in the most environmentally friendly, effcient and effective means. Science is the foundation we rely on to move forward in all aspects of agronomics and improved playability." We use this science to develop agronomic and environmental best management practices to help ensure the future of the game. Likewise, everyone should know what's going on with turfgrass research. Erik Ervin, Ph.D., a crop and soil environmental sciences professor at Virginia Tech University and chair of the Crop Science Society of America's turf science division, provided some related information on turfgrass research funding. Essentially, he says, "State tax revenues have continued to decline over the last three decades, (and) state support to fund higher education at land-grant and other state universities has gone from 65 to 75 percent of the university's total budget to 15 to 30 percent." Universities have responded to overall reductions with increased tuition, none of which is al- located to research. They have increased fundraising efforts and the pursuit of outside grants. However, turfgrass programs are operating with minimal resources. The challenge is fnding a funding resource to adequately train graduate students and to build up a research program. Ervin states, "Successful turf research professors become adept at bringing in the $1,000 to $10,000 grants from chemical companies, USGA, GCSAA and state/regional turfgrass associations. The funds raised via the Rounds 4 Research program play an important role in bolstering our dwindling funding." The Environmental Institute for Golf adopted the Carolinas GCSA's Rounds 4 Research (R4R) program in 2012 and expanded it into a national platform. Currently more than 40 state associations and turfgrass foundations from across the country are participating in this program. The concept is simple: solicit donated rounds from golf facilities and auction them online to generate revenue that participating organizations can use to fund research, advocacy, etc. The R4R program is part of the solution. You can learn more at www.rounds4research. com and help to secure the future of the game by participating in the program. Remember that healthy turfgrass is good for the environment. In closing, Barack Obama summed it up best and is credited with saying, "Cutting the defcit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you're fying high at frst, but it won't take long before you feel the impact." GCM Mark Johnson (mjohnson@gcsaa.org) is GCSAA's senior manager of environmental programs.

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