Golf Course Management

NOV 2014

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

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Page 34 of 112

30 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 'Dr. B' Seeded bermudagrass has been produced in the United States for nearly a century, and Arden Baltensperger, Ph.D., the developer of some breakthrough bermudagrass varieties, has seen nearly all of those 100 years. At 91, the father of seeded bermudagrasses is still writing articles for publication (see this issue of GCM, Page 74) and remains involved in the industry. Baltensperger's greatest achievement has been the development of improved seeded bermudagrasses for use on home lawns, golf courses, parks and sports felds. Roch Gaussoin, Ph.D., Baltensperger's former stu- dent and the current head of the agronomy department at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, says that development of the seeded bermudagrass variety NuMex Sahara "also created opportunities for companies and aca- demic institutions for bermudagrass improve- ment. I would use the children's book 'The Little Engine That Could' as an analogy for Arden's signifcant accomplishments with minimal resources." He has received numerous accolades and international recognition for his many years of work as a university professor and admin - istrator, researcher and turfgrass breeder. Baltensperger was president of the Agronomy Society of America and the Western Society of Crop Science and international president of the Honor Society of Agriculture, Gamma Sigma Delta. He was active in the Crop Sci - ence Society of America and received its pres- tigious Fred Grau Turfgrass Science Award. In 2005, the Turfgrass Breeders Association honored him with the Breeders Cup Award, Teresa Carson twitter: @GCM_Magazine and he received the frst annual Arden Balten- sperger Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Turfgrass Association for the devel - opment of Princess-77, the frst hybrid seeded bermudagrass. Given the years he has devoted to the study and breeding of bermudagrass and all the rec - ognition he has received for that work, it would appear that Dr. B, as his students affectionately called him, must have isolated himself in the laboratory with occasional forays into the feld. Fortunately, for the future of seeded bermu - dagrass, Baltensperger was generous with his time and his knowledge, forging close relation - ships with many of his students and colleagues. Clearly, with such a long career — he retired from New Mexico State University in 1988 and from Pennington Seed/Seeds West in 2010 — he has touched the lives of many people. Among those is Steve Cockerham, Ph.D., director emeritus of agricultural operations at the University of California, Riverside, who frst met Baltensperger in 1965 when Cocker - ham was a new student in the department of agronomy at New Mexico State and Balten - sperger was department head. Even though Cockerham was working with another pro - fessor and department heads are not usually involved in grad student projects, Dr. B pro - vided moral support and helped Cockerham get funding from GCSAA. Their relationship has continued through the years and, Cock - erham says, "By the 1980s he and I were re- garding each other as colleagues, though, in my mind, he is still my professor." Presented in Partnership with Barenbrug (turf) Arden Baltensperger, Ph.D., observes an irrigation/salinity experiment that includes Princess-77 bermudagrass at New Mexico State University. Photo by Bernd Leinauer Bernd Leinauer, Ph.D., Extension turfgrass specialist and professor at New Mexico State, frst met Baltensperger when Leinauer started working at New Mexico State nearly 15 years ago: "He frst was my mentor and showed me everything I needed to know about grow - ing and maintaining bermudagrass." The two quickly became friends and still get together whenever they can. Gaussoin also credits Dr. B for guid - ing him. "Professionally, Arden has had and continues to have a huge infuence on who I am. He opened doors for me that I would not have been capable of or qualifed for without his mentoring, guidance and tolerance. … Per - sonally, he exemplifed and attempted to guide all of his students to be better people above and beyond their chosen career path." Through the years Baltensperger has retained his sense of humor and a hum - ble demeanor. New Mexico State removed Princess-77 from the university's football feld and replaced it with artifcial turf just in time for this year's football season. After a recent awards ceremony this fall, Baltensperger approached his old friend, university president Gary Carruthers, and told him he thought the new feld "looked OK." As Baltensperger puts it, "There are times when one must rise above principle." Teresa Carson is GCM 's science editor.

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