Purdue Turf Program and Midwest Regional Turf Foundation | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
As early as 1937, M. L. Clevett, of the Purdue Athletic Department held seminars for approximately 40 people who were interested in turf. During the next few years George Scarseth of Purdue continued the turf conferences, and when G. O. Mott came he assumed the responsibility. In the very early days of World War II, Mott was asked by the Army Air Force to do research on stabilized grass runways. Interest in golf had been growing steadily and many people with golf interests realized that after the war and the return of veterans this interest would increase rapidly. As the war closed, greenskeepers from five states, while attending the Purdue Turf Conference, proposed a regional research and education program.
The first meeting of the Board of Directors of Midwest Regional Turf Foundation was held at the Memorial Union, Purdue University, West Lafayette , Indiana on Tuesday, September 18, 1945. The first directors present were A. L Brandon, G. O. Mott, Carl Bretzlaff, Fred V. Grau, C. R. Runyan, George T. Donoghue and the following officers were elected: President, A. L. Brandon, Executive Secretary G. O. Mott, Treasurer, Joe Graffis. The Foundation was organized to gather and disseminate information which would help promote the advancement of the turf industry .
Interest in the MRTF grew rapidly and large numbers attended "greenskeepers schools" held in 1946 and yearly thereafter. In 1950 W. H. Daniel began work specifically in turf, and G. O. Mott increased his research on pasture and forage grasses. In 1952 W. H. Daniel became the Executive Director. Ken Payne, and later Charles Rhykerd, served as Treasurer.
Very early in the history of MRTF and the Purdue Turf Program student involvement was initiated and encouraged by part-time employment in the research efforts as well as outright scholarships. This strong student relationship has continued throughout the years. In the early years of the Foundation emphasis was on golf courses and golf course superintendents. Purdue Turf Science graduates were highly regarded for these positions. The turf industry has become very diverse in the years since the Foundation was begun and today's graduates are sought not only by golf courses, but also in research and teaching, lawn care operations, and sales. Through 1985, the Purdue turf science program produced 10 PhD's, 20 M.S. degrees, and 300 B. S. degrees. In 1985, Bill Daniel retired from Purdue and Clark Throssell was hired to direct the turf program. Since 1985 one Ph.D., two Masters degrees and 71 B.S. degrees have been completed.
Early research efforts of the MRTF and Purdue were focused on grass breeding. As the industry grew and evolved, the demand for knowledge and technical information broadened and so did the research areas. From 1971-86, Dr. R. P. Freeborg participated in all phases of the turf program, and especially in research on new pesticides. Kaye House was the office secretary who served with enthusiasm and devotion for more than twenty years.
In 1993 Purdue University turfgrass research projects included species and cultivar studies, management trials involving fungicide applications, nitrogen mobilization, ryegrass management, and bluegrass drought survival, as well as weed biology and control, insect biology and control and disease biology and control. The latter two areas are an interdepartmental effort with Botany and Plant Pathology and Entomology.
The early greenskeepers schools have evolved over the years to large conferences which now include a trade show. The emphasis however has remained on the educational aspects. Attendance at the 1993 Midwest Greenscape Expo which was held Indianapolis in conjunction with the Indiana Association of Nurserymen was approximately 2,500. The success and integrity of the Purdue turf program and the MRTF has led directly to the development of many state organizations throughout the Midwest, which in turn, have greatly enhanced and strengthened the turf industry and to the present great success and expansion noted in the golfing segment.
For further information, see: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/index.html