The Chicago District Golf Association Turfgrass Program began in 1985 when Dr. Randy Kane was hired to aid District superintendents. The Association wanted to help member club superintendents with turf diagnostic issues after a new disease of golf greens received nationwide attention in Chicago. To read an article about Dr. Kane and the Turfgrass Program's inception, click here. Dr. Kane was followed in this pursuit by Dr. Derek Settle in 2006.
When the Association moved into the Midwest Golf House in 2001, numerous programs and services, including the Turfgrass Program, were expanded to benefit the membership. As the Three-Hole Sunshine Course at Midwest Golf House was designed and constructed to facilitate turfgrass research, the staff also began a greater level of collaboration with both with the University of Illinois and the University of Southern Illinois.
The CDGA's turfgrass doctor supports golf course superintendents in their management of turfgrass from tee to green. The sole aim of the program is to provide science-based information to 400 member club and uses three vehicles to reach superintendents: education, research, and diagnostics. The program's staff also includes Ron Townsend, Manager of Turfgrass Research, and Chris Painter, Sunshine Course superintendent.
Education Programs: Findings from research conducted at member courses and the Sunshine Course are presented at educational seminars throughout the District during the off season. Seminar attendees typically include superintendents from five golf course superintendent associations, representing the various regions of Illinois and Indiana.
A Directors and Club Leadership Conference is held annually in March at Medinah Country Club. This unique educational venue has a break-out session for green committee members and provides green committee chairmen and superintendents with a current overview of turfgrass science, a review of last season's growing conditions and a "focus topic" based on current concerns.
Research: Research has become the cornerstone of the Turfgrass Program; each year the staff conducts active research and tests numerous products to optimize pest control and plant health.
The Sunshine Course is home to the annual Illinois Turfgrass Foundation's turfgrass research field day, iTurf Expo. This September event showcases the research on Sunshine Course conducted by the CDGA, in conjunction with the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University.
Diagnostic Services: The Turfgrass Program offers a diagnostic service for golf course superintendents at member clubs. Diagnostic visits continue to be the foundation of the program. During the difficult hot and wet seasons of 2010 and 2011, Dr. Settle made approximately 90 diagnostic visits in each to member clubs. During the difficult hot and dry season of 2012, Dr. Settle made approximately 150 diagnostic visits. To receive diagnostic assistance, contact Ron Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-685-2310.