By: Beth Ann Luedeker
Contact: Dr. Ben Wherley, [email protected]

group listening to presentation
Ben Wherley (l) and Kevin McInnes (far right) discuss ongoing research with the USGA Green Section’s research committee before touring the research plots.

The Texas A&M Turfgrass Science team recently hosted members of the United States Golf Association Green Section’s research committee at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Center for Lawn and Garden Research.

During the visit, faculty and grad students from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences provided updates on several multi-year research projects that are currently being funded by the USGA Green Section. Drs. Ben Wherley and Kevin McInnes, respectively Associate Professor and Professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, are conducting this research with the assistance of their graduate students.

group looking at turf plot
Reagan Hejl explains the tools being used to determine best management practices for irrigation of sand-capped fairways to members of the USGA Green section. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

“Data-driven irrigation scheduling for managing sand-capped fairways”

This project, being conducted by Wherley, McInnes and Ph.D. student Reagan Hejl, is a follow-up to a previous USGA-funded study which determined there was no significant quality or performance differences between fairways irrigated 1 day per week vs. 2 days per week. The current study will use data-driven techniques, including wireless sensors and evapotranspiration rates, to help determine the best irrigation practices for sand-capped fairways.

three people by pile of spent coffee grounds
Master’s student Garrett Flores visits with members of the USGA Green Section research committee about the spent coffee grounds being used in his research. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

“Evaluation of spent coffee grounds as a turf fertilizer and root zone amendment”

This study, being conducted by Wherley, McInnes and Master’s student Garrett Flores, is evaluating the use of spent coffee grounds as a more sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to sphagnum peat moss as a soil amendment for golf courses.

Master’s student Will Bowling demonstrates the difference wetting agents can make in the mitigation of sodicity caused by poor quality irrigation water on sand-capped fairways. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

“Long-term dynamics and management requirements of sand-capped fairways”

A third project follows a previous USGA study which suggested an optimal sand capping depth of 8 inches. This study, being conducted by Wherley, McInnes and graduate student Will Bowling, will evaluate the long-term changes in performance, soil properties and management requirements created by the sand-capping.

USGA is also funding several warm-season turf breeding projects being conducted by Dr. Ambika Chandra and others at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas.

The USGA research committee includes USGA agronomists from both the south-central and western U.S. regions as well as current and retired university faculty.

Since 1920, the USGA has funded more than $40 million on research projects conducted at universities across the country. Their research program facilitates collaboration with allied associations and government agencies to promote golf course contributions to the environment. The scientific results advance the long-term viability of the game through sustainable resource management and environmental protection.