For well-schooled grads, MSU turf program covers a lot of ground

Sitting on the couch following a break from work in June 1993, Rob Davis turned on the television to try to discover the attraction of soccer — and found his chosen field.

The match between England and Germany at the Pontiac Silverdome was the first international soccer contest played indoors. Equally significant was the portable field of Kentucky bluegrass, whose installation was supervised by experts from Michigan State University.

The next day, Davis called up the school. Ending a career path as a landscaper, he enrolled for the spring semester of 1994.

“That game really opened my eyes to their turf management program and is the reason I went there,” he said.

In 1988, Michigan State University professors Trey Rogers and David Gilstrap laid out a two-year curriculum in sports turf management, which culminates in a certificate.
In the early 1990s, roughly 40 percent of the applicants were from out of state; now, 80 percent are from Michigan. A third of the students enter with bachelor’s degrees from another school.
Before and during the golf boom, 1980-2001, 40 students a year received a certificate through the MSU golf program. Now the number is 10-15; the baseball and football side has three to five graduates annually.

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