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WHAT’S YOUR MAJOR?

This Month, We’re Studying:

Turfgrass Science BY ALEC CUDMORE, ST. EDWARD’S UNIVERSIT Y

ver been bothered by the lack of turfgrass educational offerings at US colleges? Penn State may have the solution. By offering a Bachelor’s in Turfgrass Science, the Nittany Lions have effectively mowed down rival claims to having the most stupefying major in the country. Still, though watching grass grow is colloquially considered as engaging as watching paint dry, the field is certainly recession-proof, just as a turf with good spring should be impression-proof. Also, it’s not as easy as it may sound. By requiring a mix of hands-on application and a knowledge of topics ranging from genetics to plant nutrition, excelling in Turfgrass Science really requires being outstanding in your field.

E

KEY TERMS

POTENTIAL JOBS: GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENT (GCS): Essentially the groundskeeper for a golf course, the GCS manages the materials and financial resources in order to care for the grass. You are Papa (or Mama) Turf. TREE TRIMMER: This really was on the list of jobs that may await you; it’s exactly what it sounds like.

MYTH AND TRUTH MYTH: Turfgrass students are a bunch of grass-loving weirdos. TRUTH: In reality, the degree is about much more than loving lawns. Though some students may be passionate about turfgrass, the degree plan is designed to set sod aficionados on a career path that deals with the poaceae family as just one commodity within a larger industry.

MYTH: Overspecialization so early in life stunts future opportunities. TRUTH: Actually, Turfgrass Science and many other agricultural majors are a result of industry leaders asking colleges to create students that can satisfy their need for experts. Turfgrass can lead to a fulfilling career. Granted, one that deals predominantly with turfgrass.

MYTH: Grass is meant to be stepped on, not studied. It is below us. TRUTH: While the degree is certainly out there, studying sod gives students the opportunity to tap into a niche job market with plush perks, such as fieldside access to legendary arenas and unlimited amounts of fresh cut grass smell.

S TA R T I N G S A L A R Y

$35,000

TURFGR ASS Any kind of grass that is grown to form turf, often for golf ranges. Only cool Turfgrass Science majors call it turf. SPROUTS The lowly plebeians who have yet to pass the turfgrassian feats of strength. GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (GCSA A) Really the who’s who of lawn care, Turfgrass Science majors can earn credit as undergrads to help them gain access to this secret society. Crop circles may be involved in initiation. TURGR ASS ALUMNI Though few are household names, marquis de sod are scattered like seed across the country. In one online alumni map, the blanket of veteran green growers spread out much like turf would. It’s beautiful, and given the way turfgrassers think, likely intentional.

FUN FACT: CONVERSATION STARTERS “This par ty is boring. Can anyone here tell me about tur fgrass?” • “What’s your favorite kind of grass to study about for four years?” • “I find the state of the tur fgrass industr y to be positively (inser t any thing).”

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// NOVEMBER 2016

Though Augusta National Golf Club’s Brad Owen may disagree, the job of Neil Stubley, the head groundsman at Wimbledon, is considered the holy grail of turf management. Images via shutterstock.com

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