What is a Golf Lab?
The University of Minnesota (UMN), founded in the belief that all people are enriched by understanding, is dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth; to the sharing of this knowledge through education for a diverse community; and to the application of this knowledge to benefit the people. UMN has an incredible resource on its campus, the UMN Les Bolstad Golf Course. The Science of the Green Initiative is focused on developing this resource as a collaborative multidisciplinary laboratory known as GolfLab.
The UMN Les Bolstad Golf Course is the first GolfLab; a research laboratory focused on how to engage the community, achieve profitable finances, and produce a net positive environmental impact in the golf industry. As part of a land grant institution, GolfLab has opportunities to experiment and test innovations; finding successes amongst failures. GolfLab will be utilized to inform the industry of innovative practices that will lead the industry toward a sustainable future.
The focus of GolfLab is built around responsible business practices and facility management, and environmental stewardship and education. There appears to be significant opportunity for the creation of shared value amongst these practices. The golf industry stands at a critical juncture; incorporation, exploration, and development of these opportunities for shared value appear as a strong chance for fostering the next generation of committed, responsible golfers and reimagining the role golf courses have in society.
Moving forward, the GolfLab program can be utilized by any golf course that is looking to improve their strategies for integrating sustainability into their facility. Courses that adopt these research methods will receive recognition as a golf lab (little g little l). The Science of the Green initiative focuses on empowering golf course managers and provides the necessary tools to conduct experiments and studies at golf facilities, provide valuable information on the impacts of golf on society and how to improve and strengthen those impacts.
History of Les Bolstad Golf Course
Opened in 1929, the Les Bolstad Golf Course is a classic, 18-hole championship course used by students, faculty, alumni and the community. The Course began as a cow pasture and was transformed by W.R. Smith, who was also known as "Mr. Golf" at the UMN and throughout state. Three years later, in 1931, University faculty members gathered support to build a clubhouse, which is still standing today.
As one of the last remaining green spaces on campus, the Course is enjoyed by members of the University community: children learning to play golf, alumni returning to the University and current students studying turfgrass research. Legends such as Tom Lehman and Les Bolstad have navigated their way around its tight fairways, ancient trees and elevated greens.
UMN Recreation and Wellness has successfully operated the Course since 2009 and maintains it as a vital part of the University and community.