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Turf and Turfgrass Management

Program Description

Just the Facts

Turf and Turfgrass Management. A program that focuses on turfgrasses and related groundcover plants and prepares individuals to develop ornamental or recreational grasses and related products; plant, transplant, and manage grassed areas; and to produce and store turf used for transplantation. Includes instruction in applicable plant sciences, genetics of grasses, turf science, use analysis, turf management, and related economics.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Master's degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Programs

Often similar programs have different names. Be sure to explore all your options.

Additional Information

Would-be caretakers of golf courses and baseball fields need a thorough understanding of the chemistry, botany and business involved. That's what students learn in a turf management program.

For over 40 years, universities and two-year colleges have offered degree, diploma and certificate programs in turf management. These programs take students through basic biology to advanced concepts of botany, including weed and pest identification. Other subjects covered include budget management and park and recreation administration.

A two-year program teaches students how to pick the best plant varieties and decide the best locations for greens versus roughs. The added two years in a four-year program prepare students to take their skills to the next level, designing and building golf courses.

Pat Vittum is a turfgrass professor at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Massachusetts. Stockbridge offers a two-year program, with the option to transfer into the four-year program at the University of Massachusetts afterwards.

Vittum says students should think about their career plans when choosing a program. "There are a lot of landscape operations where you could do very well with a two-year degree, but if you want to rise to a position like golf course superintendent, you'll need the four-year degree," she says.

Many programs also teach students about the business side of things. They learn how to handle budgets, personnel and promotion. You'll also be expected to hire others to assist you in the hands-on care of the courses and fields. Finally, you may be asked to participate in organizing special events.

Preparation for a turf management degree or diploma usually starts with a love for outdoor sports, most likely golf. That means any golfing experience will give you an edge.

You should also enjoy science. "The program includes a lot of chemistry and biological sciences," says Nick Christians, a professor of turf management at Iowa State University. He suggests high school students take classes in math, chemistry, biology and even English and speech.

Students also need leadership skills. "We want them to have some kind of experience managing or supervising others. We look for them to have held a lead role in an association or on a sports team," says turf management professor Gerry Lettner.

Most programs require students to gain experience through a summer or semester internship. "The internship, or what we call a work practicum, is a 16-week commitment that students are required to take, usually between the first and second year of the program," says Lettner.

Fortunately, most schools have strong relationships with local and national golf courses, where student interns are placed. Contacts made during internships often lead to job offers upon graduation.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Grounds Maintenance Workers

Turf Management Resources
Check out these links from the California Integrated Waste Management Board

A new artificial turf type with a grassy feel


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    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900
  • North Dakota Career Resource Network
    ndcrn@nd.gov | (701) 328-9733