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Monday
Nov022015

USGA, Golden Gophers Announce Golf Sustainability Study

Oh to be a fly on the University of Minnesota's Les Bolstad Golf Course when the researchers say, "you know, if the ball didn't fly so far we wouldn't be having these back-ups on our par-5s, we wouldn't have to redesign holes to be relevant for the college kids and we wouldn't have to ask donors to pay for it all." Oh, and the allure is not really making anyone want to come play the course. Oh well, we can dream...

For Immediate Release...with a fancy, only mildly self-congratulatory video embedded at USGA.org celebrating the partnership.

USGA and University of Minnesota Announce Research Partnership to Tackle Golf’s Challenges and Foster Innovation
   
FAR HILLS, N.J., and MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Nov. 2, 2015) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the University of Minnesota (UMN) announced on Monday a five-year master research partnership to study and develop solutions to golf’s present and future challenges.

“Participation and growth are central issues for the health of our game, but there are many other critical and complex factors that will contribute to its long-term sustainability,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director. “This agreement will further the USGA’s mission to apply fact-based research and deliver tested solutions back to the industry, particularly in three areas: the game’s cost, the time it takes to play and golfer enjoyment.”

The partnership, which allows both parties to identify projects and assign funding on an individual basis, leverages the full assets of the University of Minnesota, recognized as one of the most comprehensive public research universities in the U.S. The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Carlson School of Management; College of Science and Engineering; and Humphrey School of Public Affairs are among those that are expected to contribute throughout the five-year period.

“We look forward to expanding our existing interdisciplinary research to build a sustainable future for the game of golf,” said Eric Kaler, University of Minnesota president. “This unique strategic partnership with the USGA will help us to identify and advance solutions through some of the university’s key strengths and mission: science, research, teaching and learning, and community engagement.”

The partnership will utilize the university’s Les Bolstad Golf Course as a living, learning laboratory to support critical research projects, as well as a classroom for demonstrating best practices in course design, maintenance and operations. The historic layout, established in 1929, is open to the public and valued by students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.

“We firmly believe the impact of our work will transcend golf by identifying core concepts and solutions that can be applied to all sports and public green spaces,” said Rand Jerris, Ph.D., senior managing director of public services for the USGA. “This partnership accelerates learning and solution development by augmenting our own in-house research team with investigators from different disciplines, working jointly to advance core economic, environmental and social principles in the game.”

With an emphasis on innovation, projects will focus on technology, resource management, best practices for facility operations and design/renovation, community and economic impact studies, and participation behavior. In addition to conducting research on-site at the university, the partnership will utilize golf facilities nationwide for collecting data, which will be processed and analyzed by UMN students and faculty working closely with USGA experts. 

“In this time of significant societal change, it’s important that golf remain relevant to its broad customer base,” said Brian Horgan, professor in the UMN department of Horticultural Science and Extension turfgrass specialist who is leading the partnership. “A transdisciplinary approach to research will allow golf to be responsible in its consumption of resources, and help golf facilities provide an experience that is affordable, enjoyable and compatible with the time people have available for recreation.”

This partnership will complement the series of studies conducted by universities nationwide that the USGA has funded since the 1920s, particularly in turfgrass and agronomic research.

The organizations will also explore the potential for online and on-campus educational programs, as well as partnership opportunities with other organizations and institutions to foster information-sharing worldwide.

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Reader Comments (22)

Didn't the Ohio Golf Association hold its tournaments one year with a reduced distance golf ball? Or was I dreaming?

What happened to that experiment?
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterGreg V
ON the subject of ball roll backs and small headed drivers, there is this: before 1930 (basically, before widespread adoption of steel shafts), every match for the US Amateur was contested over 36 holes. That is, if you got into match play, every match was 36 holes. 36 holes was, as is, thought to be a better contest, taking the element of luck a bit farther from the outcome. Why was every match played at 36 holes? Because, they could. With hickory shafts, courses were shorter, and playing 36 holes was possible for the field.

And then there is this: with steel shafts and persimmon, it was possible for a Paul Runyon or a Jerry Barber or a Dave Marr to compete at the highest level. The problem, as I see it, with 460 cc driver heads, the bombers can be bombers all the time, without having to fear duck hooks. Modern equipment: advantage bombers. It is much tougher for the little guys to compete.

We screwed up. We all wanted to hit it longer, and the modern game is what we got.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterGreg V
No, you weren't dreaming:
http://www.golfdigest.com/story/golf-johnson-equipment-0912
Nothing happened is what happened.

As for the US Amateur back then, early round matches were 18 holes and scared Bob Jones his own self for just that reason IIRC. But as a result of that, in 1929 he met Marion Hollins of Santa Cruz and the rest is history. So we got that going for us. Which is nice.

As for the Golden Gophers, just keep the new football coach away from any important last-second, final decisions.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Bet they could build a nice 9-hole muni in New Orleans for the amount of money this "joint venture" will waste in the first 18 months.

The USGA should take $100 million from the slush fund and play Johnny Appleseed building a string of 9 hole muni's all across the country.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
There you go, sounding like a socialist again!
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Maybe they could take the grants and study whether shorter courses take less money to build, use less water to maintain healthy turf, use less gasoline, and can be operated at a lower cost, and lower the price of golf.

Or maybe a bi-disciplinary study of B&I might show that a ball that doesn't fly as far, with a clubhead that is smaller using less metal would bring back golf like long, long ago in the 1980s when golf was growing.
Doing a multi-year golf study on a course in Minnesota? That whole global warming thing better work out to collect enough data.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C
There they go chasing their own tail again. There's been a lot of extremely smart people over the decades who have thought about ways to grow the game. Nothing concrete has ever resulted, and even if something did have traction it didn't last or else these questions wouldn't come up every 10 years, Some problems don't have a solution.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterGarfield
Ky I was literally thinking just that as I was typing the post!!

But they really should....wouldn't that be cool?
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Was Mark King invited to assist as a consultant?
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterCJK
Of course they should. And yes it would.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
that UMN prof knows a lot about turf grass varieties on golf courses and if they can make it fast and firm with a lot less water it's by far the most important undertaking in golf that I can think of.
Fun course too but needs some tweaking for playability and safety.
And TREE REMOVAL.
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterDon
“Participation and growth are central issues for the health of our game, but there are many other critical and complex factors that will contribute to its long-term sustainability,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director.

“We firmly believe the impact of our work will transcend golf by identifying core concepts and solutions that can be applied to all sports and public green spaces,” said Rand Jerris, Ph.D., senior managing director of public services for the USGA.

“This partnership accelerates learning and solution development by augmenting our own in-house research team with investigators from different disciplines, working jointly to advance core economic, environmental and social principles in the game.”

Really - REALLY?

There are times we just need to sit back and listen to the words - What utter BULLSHIT. If just 1% of all their effort were put into understanding the game we would not have to tolerate such ignorance splattered over the internet.

As for this comment “This agreement will further the USGA’s mission to apply fact-based research and deliver tested solutions back to the industry, particularly in three areas: the game’s cost, the time it takes to play and golfer enjoyment.” Come on Guys its not Rocket Science it golf and its so clearly defined how it is played.

If the USGA had not allowed to game to drift so far from its original concept in the mid 20th Century then we would not be suffering the influx of half cocked, beer consuming riding players that today constitutes more to the very ruin of the ancient game of golf thus forcing this rehabilitation - the direction of which is rather suspect as the USGA seek changes to the game instead of a more directed approach of educating the Players.

Then I suppose this will not be cheap and as money is to be made by most if not all it will be applauded in high places, however do not expect any positive results - nothing much will changes, we will be the poorer for the experience while others acquire more money.

Really, seems to give us Golfer very little confidence then the above article sounds to have the same sincerity of our politicians, wow is that surprising.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlbatross
Tross
Most of what they are doing at the UMN course is high tech turf grass research. Strands of fescue that play better with way less water, fertilizer and chemical sprays. Their research has been years in the making, too. It's interesting to me that the USGA got involved but it can only be a good thing given the area of study.
http://recwell.umn.edu/golf/science-of-the-green
But I suppose your average private and muni courses superintendent has that grass research already figured out. "You can play 18 on it and smoke the bejesus out of it."
Also, this course is on very valuable land in the heart of the city owned by a land locked university. It's under pressure to serve a higher purpose than just golf or it could be redeveloped by the UMN for other purposes.
In short, it's a very interesting endeavor and although you have good reason to be suspicious of the USGA the UMN folks appear to be top notch.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterDon
My first thought was, it's Minnesota. So essentially you're taking a 6 month vacation from this study every year due to the inability to actually play golf in Minnesota during late fall, winter, and early spring. It's a wonder anything gets done in this country anymore, what with all of the geniuses making decisions like this. How many courses in Florida, Arizona, Texas, or California do we have that you could run this same study at 12 months out of the year?

The wisdom of our "elite" clearly is lacking.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterPMW
PMW, I get what you are saying on one hand, but on the other, what exactly is it that you will learn from Bermuda grass in those locations that is transferable to the rest of the country? Maybe you can learn something in Arizona, but don't you have to water the hell out of it? Minnesota will give information that is actually relevant to the midwest, northeast, and even some parts south of the mason-dixon line.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterPat(another one)
I think UMN turf grass can be found all over the world including pebble beach.
really could be an awesome project. There might be a redesign of the course too.
My one hope is that they make it walking only because that sorta fits with the whole health and wellness thing (as opposed to the able bodied college kids I've seen there buzzing around in carts.)
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterDon
The U of MN course made money for the first time in many years this year. It has always been odd to me that you are on the St Paul campus, which is the agriculture campus, and the course never had a slue of Interns or student projects to help make the course in nice shape. It has always been in muni shape. So anything that will help drive play there would be great, Maybe the Men's team will even start to play there again.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered Commentermark
There you go, sounding like a socialist again!
11.2.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

KLG:
I thought the USGA was a charity, and not a government.
And I thought charities were supposed to spend their money for the benefits of society.
So how would the USGA spending their excess funds for the benefits of the golfing public not fit the definition of charity rather than as socialism?
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterBillS
BillS: Just a little dig at Del, based on previous back and forth between him and me and other fellow Shackelfordians. I guess you had to be there. But I would have no problem with the "gubmint" building 9-hole municipal golf courses in every community across the country able to support one. But I am the resident socialist. Just ask DTF.

As for the USGA being a charity, please don't make us laugh. "Non-profit," yes (and those are scare quotes). Charity, absolutely not.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Build courses - that's not the problem, its what game is being played upon them that actually counts.
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlbatross
"I thought the USGA was a charity..."

Definitely NOT!

I'm hard pressed to see how the USGA can perpetually abuse their "non-profit" status with a straight face....
11.3.2015 | Unregistered CommenterDTF

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