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John Reitman

By John Reitman

USGA grant program renamed to recognize Davis' career, contributions


The USGA grant initiative known as the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program has been renamed the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management. Davis, shown here at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, is retiring this year. Photo courtesy of USGA/Darren Carroll

The U.S. Golf Association has renamed its sustainability initiative to recognize the contributions of retiring CEO Mike Davis.

Formerly the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program (TERP), the initiative has been renamed the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management. Davis, who joined the USGA in 1990, is retiring at the end of the year.

The longstanding initiative represents the single largest private grant program in golf dedicated to advancing innovation in sustainability and improving the on-course experience. The USGA invests nearly $2 million in the program each year and today has contributed a total of $45 million to the initiative that  to date, which has resulted in better playing conditions, dramatic cost savings and a more environmentally friendly game.

"Throughout his time at the USGA, Mike Davis' vision to lead the game forward through golf course sustainability has propelled the success of this program, ensuring that every golfer has a great playing experience and every owner has access to the latest innovations to manage their course," said USGA president Stu Francis in a news release. "With his passion for golf courses and data-driven decision-making, we could not find a better program to share his name and inspire a sustainable future for golf."

The USGA invests nearly $2 million in the program each year and today has contributed a total of $45 million to the initiative.

Founded in 1920 in response to a need for agronomic advice in the run-up to the U.S. Open that year at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, the USGA Green Section has initiated and fostered sustainable practices that have benefited the entire game. Through it, the USGA has dedicated golf’s largest investment toward research focusing on science-based management practices, turfgrass innovation and environmental stewardship. Land-grant universities and researchers from California to New Jersey, and from New Zealand to the United Kingdom are among the primary recipients of the 50-70 Davis Grants dispersed annually.

The research program has significantly contributed to the development of sustainable golf maintenance practices that have driven a decrease in water use of more than 20 percent, a 40 percent decrease in nutrient inputs during the past 10 years and a savings of $1.86 billion each year through incorporating more natural areas on golf courses that result in smarter use of water and pesticides.

Widely used golf turfgrasses such as bentgrass and bermudagrass were first selected and improved through the USGA program, in an effort to improve drought resistance, promote recycled water and smart irrigation use and improve playing conditions on golf courses and playing fields worldwide.

The published research is directly shared through the free USGA Green Section Record, as well as through Course Consulting Service visits by USGA agronomists and at regional and national industry conferences.

A native of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Davis was the 1982 Pennsylvania State Junior golf champion and played NCAA Division I golf at Georgia Southern University. In September 2020, he announced his intent to leave the organization’s top post to pursue a personal career goal in golf architecture and design.

Applicants for a USGA Davis Grant must demonstrate how their work will achieve one of the three main USGA strategic program objectives: 1 – optimizing sustainable golf course management and playing conditions; 2 – protecting and conserving water resources; or 3 – identifying and developing novel plant materials. The program is managed by Cole Thompson, Ph.D., director of USGA turfgrass and environmental research. The current deadline for grant funding is June 25. Click here for more information.

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