Education in Turf and Grounds Management
Education in Turf and Grounds Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an opportunity to get involved in a lucrative and highly respected profession. The program offers a unique opportunity for students who want a broad education as well as a specialty. Turf and Grounds Management incorporates the principles embodied in soil science, horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, landscape architecture, ecology, business management and public relations to prepare you for a highly successful career.
The program culminates in a four-year Bachelor of Science degree. It was founded in 1961 by Professor James R. Love and directed by him until 1986. Today, Dr. Doug Soldat leads the program in Soil Science. It was Professor Love’s philosophy that a strong knowledge of the basic sciences coupled with field training is essential for success. This philosophy continues today.
Enrollment in the program annually ranges between 25-30 students. Graduates have little difficultly obtaining positions as golf course superintendents, assistant golf course superintendents, lawn care specialists, turf product sales personnel, institution grounds supervisors, athletic field managers and landscape specialists.
For additional information, not included here, contact:
Dr. Doug Soldat
Information for Prospective Students
Is a career in Turf and Grounds Management right for you?
Choosing an enjoyable and rewarding career is a difficult decision. The following questions should help you decide if a career in Turf and Grounds Management would be to your liking:
- Are you prepared to continue your study of the basic sciences (mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology for example) to gain knowledge of soil science, horticulture, agronomy, plant pathology and agricultural engineering as they apply to turf and grounds management?
- Are you willing to undertake field training while attending college?
- Are you interested in continuing education necessary in a changing technical field?
- Do you receive personal gratification from physical labor and accomplishments that you can see?
- Do you enjoy working outdoors in all types of weather and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings?
- Are you willing to work as many hours per day as it takes to get a job done?
- Are you willing to assume a variety of responsibilities that range from record keeping and budgeting to equipment repair and tree pruning?
- Do you desire leadership and supervisory responsibilities?
- Do you enjoy working with people as well as equipment?
- Are you self-motivated?
If you answered “yes” to most, if not all these questions, chances are excellent that you are up to the challenges of a career in turf and grounds management.
Why pursue a four-year degree?
The answer to this question lies in the broad-based, highly-respected education that a four-year degree offers. Many two-year schools offer excellent technical training in turf and grounds management. However, they lack the additional two years of education that provide a well rounded education. Four-year college students first receive a strong background in the social, mathematical, communication, physical and biological sciences. This is the foundation which students use to progress to advanced courses related to turfgrass management.
Since the four-year degree is so widely recognized, the graduate has a variety of options for employment, increased flexibility to change careers or to pursue advanced degrees and further expand employment opportunities. Four years of college education provides even footing with other professionals in our society. By the year 2004, golf course superintendents who wish to become certified by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) will be required to have fours years of college education.
Students in the Turf and Grounds Program are offered two options of early study: Production/Management or Business/Sales. The Business/Sales option requires 15 credit hours related to business and economics. The Production/Management option requires 15 credit hours related to agricultural engineering, agronomy and horticulture.
All students are required to satisfy the following course curriculum:
Number of Credit Hours
|Major (Soil Science or Horticulture)||18|
A total of 124 degree credits are required for graduation. The program’s curriculum sheet provides specific details and requirements. Copies can be obtained from Dr. Doug Soldat, Soil Science.
Strong emphasis is placed on professional work experience. Students gain knowledge of equipment operation, landscape construction, drainage, pesticide use and application, irrigation, fertilization and other crucial practices. Students usually work full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. Placement for summer employment is virtually guaranteed thanks to support from the program’s alumni. Alumni include a network of golf course superintendents, lawn care managers, landscape managers, and sales personnel for companies specializing in turf products. Additionally, faculty are able to place students through other professional contacts across the nation and internationally.
Students can receive up to 8 credits during their field training through the internship program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Students may also enroll in Soil Science or Horticulture 299 (Special Topics) or 699 (Special Problems). This allows pursuit of topics of special concern via literature reviews, writing, term papers or the actual conduct of research projects in the senior year.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has many highly qualified faculty available to deal with various aspects of turf and grounds management. Those currently involved in turfgrass extension and research on a continuous basis are:
- Dr. Doug Soldat-Soil Science
- Dr. Paul Koch-Plant Pathology
- Dr. Mike Casler-Agronomy
- Dr. Chris Williamson-Entomology
The cornerstone of the UW-Madison Turfgrass Program is the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility. The facility is adjacent to UW’s championship golf course-University Ridge. Proximity to the UW-Madison campus provides students full access to both facilities and the opportunity to significantly enhance the quality of their educational experience. The Noer facility has research and demonstration plots that are used for teaching purposes, as well as a fully video-equipped classroom.