November 23, 2010James R. Fitzroy, CGCS
Dear Mr. Fitzroy,
Scientists, educators and extension specialists within the Turfgrass Science (C5) division of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) have a long-standing and mutually beneficial partnership with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Members of C5 are keenly aware of the financial pressures faced by many in today’s economy which is challenging the viability and sustainability of programs and organizations. Like the member-driven GCSAA, state supported Universities are facing significant budget reductions and elimination of programs.
Members of C5 recognize that education is arguably the most important GCSAA member benefit; much of the education is done in concert with C5 members. At the 2011 GIS in Orlando, 48% (51/107) of the seminars and 52% (312/600) of the instructional hours will be provided by C5 members. Moreover, the education provided is research based, applied and focused on the golf industry.
Most of our members, either directly or indirectly, have received research funding from a state GCSA or GCSAA. Through this research, our members have improved playability, functionality, and environmental sustainability of golf courses across the United States. This research is used to: (1) educate future golf course superintendents in the classroom, (2) enhance stewardship of current golf course superintendents via education by C5 members at the GIS and (3) articulate the value of golf courses to legislators and regulators.
The purpose of this correspondence is to express the concern of the C5 Executive Committee on behalf of the C5 membership regarding the current and future status of GCSAA’s research program given the recent departure of Dr. Clark Throssell. We value Dr. Throssell as an educator, researcher and colleague; during his tenure at GCSAA he was a trusted and highly effective liaison between GCSAA and academia. Although we do not purport to know GCSAA’s financial details, we were surprised that GCSAA chose to dismantle its research program as a cost-saving measure.
It is important to state that the same economic problems faced by GCSAA are putting increasing pressure on members of C5 to obtain extramural research funding. Until recently, funding from GCSAA and USGA has enabled C5 members to address research issues valuable to GCSAA and its members. A move by GCSAA to de-emphasize research is likely to encourage C5 members to pursue research funding opportunities in areas less relevant to golf. If this trend continues, we will not be able to provide research-based education for the GCSAA and its members, as well as for the next generation of golf course superintendents.
We have been encouraged by our members to engage in a conversation about the role of C5 within GCSAA and to understand how GCSAA plans to “offer a research program by leveraging our relationships with instructors and others…” We are invested as an industry in golf turf research and believe that research is paramount to the future of golf.
We look forward to your reply.
Brian Horgan, Ph.D. Anthony Koski,Ph.D. David Williams, Ph.D.
James Murphy, Ph.D. Mike Richardson, Ph.D.
CC: Rhett Evans, GCSAA Interim CEO