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Science of (the) Green™ Initiative: An Overview

At the University of Minnesota we are driven to discover solutions to the world’s problems. The game of golf is a world-wide sport with a significant economic, environmental, and social impact on society. The Science of the Green Initiative is a research initiative focused on the long-term sustainability of the golf industry, exploring the role golf courses play in ecosystems and how science and design can be utilized to increase the ecosystem services and value that golf courses provide society.

This initiative builds off of the current research and long-history at the University of Minnesota. The USGA and other organizations are supporting this research, built on fifteen years of work on sustainability of turfgrass management. Creation and utilization of the Turfgrass Research, Outreach, and Education Center. Foundation of this program comes from long-term research and an interest in developing broad collaborations across the institution (other departments). Broader look at the sustainability of the game led to five year partnership looking at golf’s greatest challenges.

Read more about the partnership HERE

The goal of the Science of the Green Initiative is to inform the golf industry of the critical importance of sustainability within the industry; why it is important (and profitable) to incorporate environmental initiatives into a facility, why engaging the surrounding community will increase the value of a golf course, why looking at management decisions with a holistic sustainable lens adds economic, environmental, and societal value to the golf business.

The University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences already has a successful Turfgrass Research, Outreach, and Education Center, which consists of approximately 10 acres devoted to turfgrass research under the direction of Drs. Brian Horgan and Eric Watkins. The site includes both a USGA-specification research green and a native soil research green. A recently installed automated rainout shelter can be used for research on turfgrass water use and drought tolerance. Runoff facilities also track pesticide and fertilizer runoff and inform strategies to reduce their movement to adjacent land.

The college's expertise is complemented by University’s strength and experience in civil and mechanical engineering, management, public health, robotics, kinesiology, urban planning, landscape architecture, environmental policy and other fields, bringing a holistic approach to the concept of sustainable golf course design and operations.