Penn State turfgrass program turning out major-championship superintendents by Mark Wogenrich Matt Shaffer grew up working on farms but, as he said, "didn't like milking cows." He wanted to grow things.
So Shaffer left Martinsburg, a small town south of Altoona, for Penn State, where the Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program had become a training ground for superintendents. Now at Merion Golf Club, site of this summer's U.S. Open, Shaffer is in charge of making the fairways and greens playable for the game's best players.
Or almost playable.
"I do this because I really think I produce an environment that's conducive to releasing stress," Shaffer said Monday, standing near the 11th green at Merion. "Though some people say I cause additional stress."
Read full story at The Morning Call
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Forks Join Bluegrass in Education of Masters Greenskeeper
By Michael Buteau
Mark Kuhns talks about the importance of Penn State's students at Baltusrol.
For the first time, the State College, Pennsylvania, school has produced all three superintendents for this year’s U.S.- based major golf tournaments -- the Masters, which began this morning in Augusta, Georgia; the U.S. Open; and the PGA Championship. At Penn State, Benson was schooled by Joseph Duich, a man who stressed that proper comportment was part of the job and force students to take an etiquette course.
“Mrs. Franz; I can’t believe I still remember her name,” Darren Davis, a 1989 Penn State graduate, former Augusta National grounds crew employee and superintendent of Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Florida, said in a telephone interview. “It was such an aggravating class. Many students hated it and begged him to get rid of it, but he knew that how we presented ourselves was huge. If you can’t talk to the CEO of Ford, you can’t work at a place like Augusta. I still have my notes from that class.”
Read the full story at bloomberg.com.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Logan Murphy and Christopher Konow were selected to receive Trans-Miss scholarships in the amount of $4,500. Murphy, of Dodge City, Kansas, received the Tom Crow Scholarship. He maintained a 4.0 GPA in Penn State's Golf Course Turf Management Program, was the school's Turf Club president in 2012, interned at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchison, Kansas, and, as a graduate, is now working at the Pinehurst Resort.
Konow, of Plainfield, Connecticut, received the W.D. McBee, Jr. Scholarship. He carried a 4.0 GPA in Turfgrass Management at Penn State, earned a scholarship from the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council, served as a manager for the top-ranked University of Connecticut women's basketball team while earning a Political Science degree at UConn, and, as a Penn State graduate, is now working at the Black Hall Club in Old Lyme, Connecticut.
Benjamin Burrill, now at the Merion Golf Club, was also selected to receive a Trans-Miss scholarship in the amount of $3,000.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Nematode control has been a serious concern for turfgrass managers since the removal of Nemacur from the market. With no controls available for nematodes, damage has become increasingly severe on golf course putting greens. Damage has been severe in Western Pennsylvania, but reports of turf loss have been reported through much of the state.
Working with Syngenta, Penn State faculty within the Center for Turfgrass Science have successfully received an EPA Section 24(c) Special Local Need Label for abamectin (Trade Name Avid).
For more information on Avid, please visit the following sites.
TurfDiseases.org (Research Data)
Friday, January 18, 2013
Turfgrass management for those who 'lives to work'
By Lauren Ingeno
Collegian Staff Writer
His solution? Joseph Valentine drove to State College, entered the office of then-president Ralph Hetzel and demanded that Penn State develop a program to train professional turf growers.
One year later marked the beginning of a two-year certificate golf course turfgrass management program. It still exists today in addition to a four-year undergraduate program, which is now the largest turfgrass degree program in the world, said program director Andrew McNitt.
“You either love it or you hate it, and there is not a lot in between,” McNitt said of the major.
Matt Shaffer, who graduated from the two-year program in the 1970s and is now director of golf course operations at Merion, said a career in turfgrass management is for someone who “lives to work” rather than “works to live,” due to the job’s long hours.
The career is for people who love the outdoors, are full of energy and are overachieving, Shaffer said.
Unlike other lesser-known majors at Penn State, students in turfgrass science typically “discovered” their passion while working at a job in high school, though they were not all immediately aware that they could turn a summer gig into a lifelong career.
McNitt said when he asks students why they majored in turfgrass science, most tell him they worked at a golf course in the summer and find out their bosses attended Penn State.
With a massive alumni network, McNitt said the program boasts nearly 100 percent job placement for graduating seniors.
Tyler Patton (senior-turfgrass science) said he grew up around golf courses, because of his father’s profession working on golf course irrigation systems. He said learning the science behind turfgrass has led to “great epiphany” moments in an area in which he had prior knowledge.
In order to effectively grow turfgrass and keep it alive when faced with its enemies, students must learn about weeds, pesticides, bugs, plant diseases and soil nutrition, said academic adviser Dianne Petrunak.
Understanding the science behind turfgrass is essential, said John Kaminski, director of the two-year golf course turfgrass management program.
“Turfgrass management is getting very sophisticated. You’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Kaminksi said. “You have to be able to provide the best conditions while still maintaining the health of the turf.”
But golf courses are big business, and in order to be successful in the turfgrass industry, students must know about more than pesticides and soil, Kaminski said.
“The business side of the industry becomes the hardest part for some people,” Kaminski said. “Most people get into [turfgrass science] because they love being outside. But once they’re working, it becomes more about accounting, business and people skills.”
Turfgrass students must take classes in business, computer science and communications.
“They’re going to be developing a budget, involved in hiring and repairing equipment,” Landschoot said.
Currently, Shaffer is busy preparing Merion Golf Club to host the 2013 U.S. Open, and is reminded why he loves his profession that began with the turfgrass program at Penn State.
“It’s not an easy career. It’s not a career where you really sit back and relax,” Shaffer said. “But it’s a great profession. I’d do it again.”
This is the second in a five-part weekly series featuring “discovery majors” at Penn State.
Originally reported in today's edition of the Daily Collegian.
Monday, November 12, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On Aug. 28, the USGA, the golf turfgrass industry and the Penn State Turfgrass Program lost a dear friend and colleague, Stanley Zontek. To honor his contributions to the golf turf industry and his love for Penn State, Pennsylvania Turfgrass Research Inc. (PTRI) and Penn State named a new endowment the Stanley J. Zontek Turfgrass Endowment.
Several years ago a dedicated group of volunteer turf professionals formed PTRI and launched a campaign to raise funds for turfgrass research at Penn State. This campaign culminated in 2011 with the creation of a $300,000 endowment at Penn State. Following the death of Zontek this year, the board of PTRI and Penn State faculty asked Penn State to name the new endowment the Stanley J. Zontek Turfgrass Endowment.
"No graduate from the Penn State Turfgrass Program had a bigger impact on our industry, and no one has been a better ambassador for the program around the world than Stanley Zontek," said Jerred Golden, chair of PTRI. "We have all felt his loss, but honoring him through the naming of the endowment will keep his name forever associated with the school he loved."
Golden noted that the endowment provides critical financial support for faculty and students to perform research and provide solutions to turf problems in Pennsylvania and in other areas of the United States. He stated, "Naming the endowment after Stanley will ensure that all of his contributions to the industry will live on through continued research and discovery."
For more information about the Stanley J. Zontek Turfgrass Endowment, please contact Peter Landschoot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814.863.1017, or John Kaminski at email@example.com.
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