GRIPPING When professional golfer Patrick Cantlay pocketed the birdie that won him the 2021 PGA Tour Championship, he did so on grass that had been tested that morning by a student on the University of Georgia Griffin campus.
Ethan Barr, Junior and Environmental Resource Scientist at UGA-Griffin, got a job helping the PGA Tour at its peak of the season at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on the first weekend of September.
Barr’s job was simple, but it had a significant impact on the outcome of the tournament and strengthened his chosen subject.
“We went upstairs early in the morning to use a tool called TruFirm to test how firm the greens are,” said Barr. “It has a sensor on the end that you drop on the green and it checks how solid the greens are. They give these results to the person in charge of the golf course and they make changes in the afternoon to make it firmer or less firm.
“The boss at the golf course said they want the greens to be challenging but fair and consistent in terms of speed and strength. We helped. “
Barr got the opportunity through his work with UGA Cooperative Extension’s turf specialist, Clint Waltz, who had previously connected student workers with the East Lake Golf Club. Waltz led Barr in using the tool and was instrumental in securing Barr’s unique experience-based learning opportunity with the PGA Tour.
“The data on the surface strength help the golf course manager and the agronomists of the PGA Tour to set up the golf course and to manage the golf course with the most uniform playing surfaces possible,” said Waltz. Barr did not work directly with the instructors, but he “had to see how the process went. It is unique in this respect for an experience-oriented learning opportunity. “
Experiential learning at UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences enables students like Barr to gain hands-on experience. It is a compulsory component for all UGA students and has long been an important part of the Deans’ Promise, which ensures that every CAES student has the opportunity to take part in internships and other practice-oriented learning opportunities.
Although the PGA TOUR experience was brief, the work reinforced Barr’s goal of one day becoming a turf manager or golf course superintendent.
“My interest in turf started with playing baseball, learning about the technology, and figuring out what makes the field and turf look great,” said Barr. “I think it’s a good experience. I think students should do it before they go too far into school to see if they really like what they want to study and decide from there. “
To learn more about the UGA’s Turfgrass Management Program, visit caes.uga.edu. Information on all undergraduate courses at UGA-Griffin can be found at griffin.uga.edu.
Valley Food Storage has consulted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s List of Disasters and Emergencies and selected key ways to be prepared for a variety of emergency scenarios. Click for more.
Clint Thompson is a Tifton-based agricultural writer.