The Turfgrass Information Center of Michigan State has announced the arrival of a major donation of turfgrass industry materials from the family of the late Dr. Fred V. Grau.

Grau legacy now available through TGIF

The Turfgrass Information Center, of the Michigan State University Libraries, is pleased to announce the arrival of a major donation of turfgrass industry materials from the family of the late Dr. Fred V. Grau. Included are a wide range of extension materials, reprints, and other publications, as well as unique content such as correspondence, manuscripts, images, and records dealing with the turfgrass industry beginning in the mid-20th century.

Fred V. Grau (1902-1990) was a research, education, and advocacy pioneer who affected the turfgrass industry from many perspectives. Born on a farm in Bennington, Nebraska, he graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1931. Grau studied for his master’s degree at the University of Maryland where he became a research assistant for the Green Section, the branch of the United States Golf Association (USGA) that focuses on golf course care. He earned his Ph.D. at Maryland in 1935 and went on to Penn State University as the first turfgrass extension specialist working in the United States. Between 1945 and 1953, he served as Director of the USGA Green Section. During and after that time, he actively promoted several new varieties of turfgrasses, including ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass, ‘Merion’ Kentucky bluegrass and ‘U-3’ bermudagrass.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Grau advocated for high-quality athletic turfs to reduce sports-related injuries, and worked and consulted for a range of turf businesses. In 1959 he became executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council and helped to create a financial base from which to support all types of turfgrass research through grants. Grau may be best known today for his involvement in the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation, an organization created to raise funds for turf research and fellowships. He is notably remembered for his recognition of crownvetch in the 1930s and its subsequent development. He accomplished this in partnership with his wife of many years, Anne Fagan Grau. Crownvetch is a perennial legume that became widely used along U.S. highways for erosion control, slope stabilization, and beautification programs beginning in the 1950s. He founded and directed Grasslyn, Inc. to produce and distribute ‘Penngift’ crownvetch.

Dr. Grau remained active in turfgrass industry affairs for the remainder of his life; he died at College Park, Maryland, on December 1, 1990, at the age of 88.

Grau was the recipient of many awards throughout his career, including the Distinguished Service Award from the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) in 1954, the USGA Green Section Award in 1969, and SportsTURF magazine’s first Man of the Year Award in 1989. Since 1987, the Crop Science Society of America has annually presented the Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Science Award to an individual in recognition of significant career contributions to turfgrass science.

MSU Director of Libraries Clifford H. Haka notes, “Building on the donations of the O. J. Noer Research Foundation, Dr. James B Beard, and countless others, the acquisition and availability of documentation associated with one of the most distinguished turfgrass researchers, Fred Grau, substantially enriches and broadens the historical component of the turfgrass collections held at the MSU Libraries. We sincerely thank Ellen Mentzer and Fred Grau, Jr., the daughter and son of Dr. Grau, for their assistance is facilitating the transfer of these unique and priceless resources.”

For a list of materials by or about Dr. Fred V. Grau as currently indexed within the Turfgrass Information File (TGIF) database, see:,%20f

The Grau materials join the O. J. Noer Memorial Turfgrass Collection at Michigan State. The Noer Collection and the James B Beard Turfgrass Library Collection form the strongest single public location of turfgrass-related content in the world. Records for items within the Grau materials have already begun to appear within TGIF, and originals are available for consulting use within the Turfgrass Information Center at MSU.

For further information about the Collections or the TGIF database, see the Center’s website at: