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There is growing interest within the golfing industry to develop on-site testing of turfgrass cultivars. This concept is not new, but has not been a common practice in recent years. Therefore, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), United States Golf Association Green Section (USGA), and the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) have agreed to revitalize on-site testing of turfgrass cultivars on golf courses, particularly on putting greens. This project conducts evaluations of new bentgrass and bermudagrass cultivars on USGA specification putting greens constructed at golf courses across the country. This on-site testing program is designed to provide scientific information of a more applied nature about putting green turfgrass cultivar performance.

Information from this project is valuable to the golfing industry. These studies will determine the adaptation of grasses for golf course use. In addition, information obtained from on-site testing will be of particular value to plant breeders, researchers, extension educators, USGA agronomists, golf course architects, and superintendents, who need to select the best adapted putting green cultivars for a particular regional climate.

A five-person committee composed of Dr. Jeff Nus, GCSAA Research Director; Dr. Mike Kenna, USGA Research Director; Mr. James Moore, USGA Construction Education Coordinator, Mr. Kevin Morris, NTEP Executive Director; and Dr. Bob Shearman, NTEP Special Projects Coordinator determined the trial site locations and the trial specifics. Input from golf course superintendents, USGA agronomists and turfgrass researchers assisted the committee members' decision making process.


Location & Number of Trial Sites

These cultivar evaluation trials are jointly sponsored and supported by the GCSAA, USGA-Green Section, and NTEP. The USGA funded the construction of USGA specification greens for the trials. Trial sites are located on golf courses near a land grant university with a turfgrass research program or in a major metropolitan area which is readily accessible to a university turfgrass scientist. Sixteen (16) regional evaluation trial sites have been established. Trials are located in: a) northern locations for bentgrasses, b) southern locations for bermudagrass, and c) transition zone locations for both species. Trials are located where golfers practice putting and/or chipping. Host clubs provide daily maintenance of the putting green site at their own expense.


Trial Specifics

The NTEP functions as the coordinating agent for the cultivar trials. These trials are five years in duration. Trials are conducted under mutually agreed upon guidelines, procedures, and funding outlined in a research agreement agreed to and signed by the appropriate representatives of GCSAA, USGA, and NTEP and each research cooperator (i.e. university turfgrass researcher). Trials are conducted at each location under the leadership of the assigned research cooperator. These persons are responsible for establishing and conducting the trial, and collecting and transferring the data to NTEP according to the research agreement.

Trials are maintained by the golf course superintendent at each location using management procedures

common to their golf course, the geographical area and in consultation with the research cooperator. No special management practices are prescribed as these trials are intended to receive real-world golf course conditions and stresses.

These trials are conducted principally with commercially available, named cultivars. Experimental lines that will be commercially available in the near future (i.e. before the end of the test cycle) were also included in these trials at the sponsoring company’s discretion.

The NTEP administers the program and its funding, sets the advisory committee and gathers their input and recommendations for each species trial. The NTEP organizes and distribute the seed and vegetative materials which constitute the entries for each trial location. The NTEP provides the maintenance and data collection protocols to each site; collects, analyzes and disseminates the performance data in annual and final reports; and conducts an annual site visit for each trial.

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