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Golf Business News – USGA’s $45 Million Sustainability Research Program Named After Mike Davis


To celebrate the legacy of the outgoing CEO, the USGA He renamed his most influential sustainability initiative the Mike Davis Program to Improve Golf Course Management.

This long-running initiative, formerly known as the Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program (TERP), represents the largest single private grant program in golf dedicated to driving innovation in sustainability and improving the course experience. The USGA annually invests approximately $2 million in the program ($45 million to date), which has resulted in better playing conditions, significant cost savings, and a more environmentally friendly game.

The new title will honor Davis, who joined the USGA in 1990 and has had a consistent positive impact on the game during his 31 years of service while positioning it for long-term success.

“Throughout his time at the USGA, Mike Davis’ vision to lead the game forward through golf course sustainability has led to the success of this program, ensuring that every golfer has a great playing experience and that every owner has access to the latest innovations to manage golf courses,” said Stu Francis, president of the USGA. USGA. “With his passion for golf and data-driven decision making, we couldn’t have found a better program to share his name and inspire a sustainable future for golf.”

Founded in 1920, the USGA Green Section initiated and promoted sustainable practices that benefited the entire game. Through it, the USGA has made golf’s largest investment toward research focused on science-based management practices, turf innovation, and environmental stewardship. Universities and scholarship scholars from California to New Jersey, and from New Zealand to the United Kingdom are among the primary recipients of the 50-70 Davis Scholarships distributed annually.

The research program has contributed significantly to the development of sustainable golf conservation practices that have led to a 20+ reduction in water use and a nearly 40 percent reduction in nutrient use in the past decade. It has also resulted in savings of an estimated $1.86 billion annually by incorporating more landscaped areas into golf courses, managing water effectively, developing best practices that reduce pesticide use, and standardizing green building, among other things.

Extensively used golf grasses such as bentgrass and Bermuda grass were first selected and improved through the USGA program, in an effort to improve drought resistance, promote the use of recycled water and use smart irrigation and improve playing conditions on golf courses and courses around the world.

Published research is shared directly through the free USGA Green Division registry, as well as through course advisory service visits by USGA agronomists and at regional and national industry conferences.

Mike Davis, outgoing USGA CEO, was enthusiastic about the Green Division’s role in keeping the game sustainable through research (John Mummert/USGA)

Mike Davis joined the USGA as Assistant Director of Tournament Relations in 1990, and took over as Senior Director of USGA Rules and Competitions in 2005. He became the USGA’s seventh CEO in 2011 and was named CEO of the association in 2016.

A native of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Davis was the 1982 Penn State Junior golf champion and played NCAA Division I golf at Georgia Southern University. In September 2020, he announced his intention to leave the top position in the organization to pursue a personal career goal in golf engineering and design, with plans to leave the organization at the end of June 2021.

Those applying for a USGA Davis Grant must demonstrate how their work will achieve one of the three main strategic USGA program objectives: 1 – Improving sustainable golf course management and playing conditions. 2 – Protection and preservation of water resources. OR 3- Identification and development of new plant material. The program is directed by Cole Thompson, Ph.D., director of USGA turfgrass and environmental research. The current deadline for scholarship funding is June 25, 2021. More information can be found here: Scholarship Application

Through the USGA Green Section, the USGA embodies its mission to defend and advance the game of golf and realize its vision for a more welcoming, sustainable and thriving game.

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