Feature Article - March 2003
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Good Sports Fields

How to make your grounds look like the pros

By Melissa Bigner


The way you learn about turfgrass management and field maintenance is changing as much as how you practice it. That's thanks in part to the proliferation of related programs offered at state colleges nationwide and due to technological advances. Landry outlines two major innovations.

Go the distance

Schools like UGA offer correspondent courses for out-of-towners to complete the turfgrass management program. For a fee, students receive the course materials and lessons and mail in assignments.

"At test time," Landry says, "they can go to a public library or some other supervised, designated location."

Crawl the Web

A bevy of groundskeeping information can be found online, but don't just take in the static stuff. There are loads of interactive learning tools, from quizzes to online courses. Because the nature of the Web, it can provide you with some of the most up-to-date advice and innovations.

Grow Yourself

"Never stop learning," Van Haasteren answers when asked for the one piece of advice he'd give over all else. He's right—lag behind and you miss out on the latest time- and money-saving innovations. Stay in the dark and you don't master the basics. To be on top of your game, the pros suggest these outlets for continued learning.

Conferences and shows: Panel discussions and networking are priceless, according to Paul Zwaska, the former groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles. "But," he admits, "odd as it may be, you learn just as must in the bars during those shows. That's where you can really hear the best advice."

For starters, the Green Industry Expo will be held Nov. 5 to 8, 2003, at the Cervantes Convention Center in St. Louis. For more information, call 800-303-3685 or visit www.gieonline.com.

Seminars: Zwaska, for example, teaches short workshops across the country. Such programs give groundskeepers a chance for one-on-on instruction and hands-on learning. Tune into the latest seminars in your area by contacting local turf and athletic field associations.

Extension services: State university extension services offer learning materials, courses and consultations that are area-specific.

Internet: As we all know, the Web is an endless source of information. Tap in for the latest tips, previewing the newest products and use it to network your way to learning.

Associations: Joining groups like the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) is a good opportunity for continued learning. You can find your local STMA chapter by calling 800-323-3875, or visiting www.sportsturfmanager.com. Likewise, look into the Professional Grounds Management Society at www.pgms.org.