Golf course superintendents in the Carolinas are giving nearly $165,000 to researchers looking to solve some of the biggest issues affecting playing conditions across the region. The 1,800-member Carolinas GCSA awarded grants to three projects using money raised in the annual Rounds 4 Research online auction.
The grants to scientists at Clemson University and NC State University increase the association’s cumulative giving from Rounds 4 Research to more than $565,000.
“We are proud to be able to support this research that benefits the entire golf industry, as well as both our states,” said Carolinas GCSA President Billy Bagwell of Callawassie Island Club in Okatie, South Carolina. “Golf drives more than $7 billion in economic benefit in the Carolinas and that only happens with healthy, well-conditioned golf course turf. So, the answers research like this provides doesn’t just help golfers, it helps communities that rely on jobs the game supports in tourism, hospitality, manufacturing and more.”
The first of two projects being funded at Clemson focuses on the rising incidence of mutations, or off-types, in ultradwarf putting greens. Different turf types within putting greens not only produce different responses to ball traffic, they also respond differently to maintenance practices. Researchers hope to find ways to help superintendents better manage these mutations without negatively affecting the predominant turf type.
The second project at Clemson delves into a potential relationship between two common challenges, mini ring, a disease that attacks roots and results in donut shaped patches of dead turf, and nematodes, a parasite that also attacks roots. The research could lead to more effective and economical management strategies for superintendents.
At NC State, researchers are embarking on a three-year project to better understand factors that influence the effectiveness of inputs on the golf course. They want to learn how edaphic factors (soil properties that affect organisms) and previous applications influence pesticide efficacy. Research in cropping systems has shown that repeated use of certain products can lead to pesticide resistance. This project will be one of the first to explore that phenomenon in a golf setting.
“Obviously, this work is highly technical and, to be honest, may be kind of boring to most golfers,” Bagwell said. “But the fact is, research projects like these go a long way to help superintendents produce the best possible conditions in the most sustainable manner, and that means both economically and environmentally.”This year’s Rounds 4 Research auction runs April 25 to May 1. Thousands of rounds will be up for bid at facilities ranging from municipal courses to some of the most celebrated and exclusive private clubs in the country.