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Penn State Knows Grass

Penn State can add another accomplishment to its winning traditions by becoming the first university ever to have alumni overseeing the course facilities for all three U.S. major golf tournaments; the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, and the Masters.

The U.S. Open will take place at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia from June 13th until June 16th with alumnus Matt Shaffer managing the course. Current Penn State students will also be on staff at Merion Golf Club to assist with the event and gain the unique experience of working on a championship level course.

The PGA Championship will be held at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY where alumnus Jeff Corcoran is the superintendent.

Two Penn Staters were in charge of the Masters held at Augusta’s National Golf Club with Marsh Benson as senior director of golf course operations and Brad Owen serving as superintendent of the course.

“We have graduates at top courses all over the world, many as superintendents … [and] several turfgrass varieties developed at Penn State are grown on courses around the world. We like to say that the sun never sets on Penn State turfgrass or Penn State turfgrass graduates,” said John Kaminski who is the current director of the Turfgrass Management Program.

Additionally, in the last 16 major championships, 10 of the courses were headed up by Penn State graduates. Penn State has a long history in turfgrass, the program was started in 1928 by Joseph Valentine. Valentine saw a growing demand for educated individuals in the turfgrass industry with no one to fill the positions. Today the facilities house 17 acres of research property across from Beaver Stadium where students can gain hands on experience before ever going out into the field.

Penn State offers many avenues for students interested in turfgrass. A two year turfgrass management program and a four year turfgrass science major are the two that are offered at the University Park campus. Additionally, there are five programs available online from basic certificates to bachelor’s degrees. Job placement for all of these is at virtually 100 percent, according to Kaminski

With 150 students currently in the two year program, it is safe to say that Penn State will have an influence on major golf tournaments for years to come. There’s a reason that Penn State has the best grass around!

About the Author

Jillian Gordon

A farm girl and a smarty pants from Eastern PA. Lover of dogs, Brand New, Kitten Mittens, sunshine and Flyers hockey.


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