Science of Golf: agronomy

Pinehurst No.2, the site of the 2014 U.S. Open, was not the lush, green, wall-to-wall carpet that most people expect to see at one of golf’s majors. This year’s U.S. Open featured green only near the center of the fairways with browning turfgrass and scraggly “native areas” on their flanks. But all of that was by design. Three years ago the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 began with yanking out 35 acres of Bermuda rough and replacing it with sandy scrub and native plants such as goldenrod, prickly pear, winged sumac, and wiregrass. Sprinkler heads along the perimeter were pulled as well, leaving the native grasses to the whim of weather.
Why? You’ll find part of the answer in Science of Golf: Golf Course Agronomy. This installment explores the turf under the turfgrass and how golf courses of the future will likely look more like Pinehurst No. 2 and less like that wall-to-wall green. Ongoing research and environmental stewardship are key segments of the USGA’s Environmental Commitment. Use the connected NSTA-developed lesson plans below to bring engineering design process into your life science class—a still-rare opportunity.
Like last year, the ten videos added to the Science of Golf series are produced by NBC Learn in partnership with the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Chevron. The videos are linked below and available cost-free on
SOG: Golf course Agronomy discusses water usage, plant and soil structure, and conservation related to maintaining turfgrass on golf courses.
STEM Lesson Plan—Adaptable for Grades 7–12
SOG: Water Conservation describes how students might design a solution to golf course recovery or water retention. It also provides ideas for STEM exploration plus strategies to support students in their own quest for answers as well as a more focused approach that helps all students participate in hands-on inquiry.
Image of Luke Guthrie on Pinehurst No. 2, courtesy of Zach Frailey.
You can use the following form to e-mail us edited versions of the lesson plans: [contact-form 2 “ChemNow]

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