Written by Casey Sky Noon; originally published February 2020
Wearing matching polo shirts, seven students from Rutgers University represented the Scarlet Knights at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) annual Turf Bowl event in Orlando, Florida in February 2020.
The GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl is an academic tournament designed to test students’ knowledge of agronomy, business, communication, environmental management, and leadership. The contest consists of physical and visual identification of samples, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, essay, short answer, and matching questions.
For the past twenty years, only matriculated students enrolled in undergraduate/graduate turf programs could participate. In 2020, for the first time, the GCSAA allowed Two-Year Certificate students to compete and Rutgers was thrilled to send an inaugural team!
The opposition was tough. There were 56 teams, composed of 214 students from 31 different schools across the country. And the stakes were high. The first-place grand prize was a giant check for $4,000. Our two teams placed 16th and 22nd.
“Having Rutgers place in the top half shows how invaluable the 2-year program stacks with top schools,” said Maxwell Lyons, a Two-Year Certificate student from Milburn Golf & Country Club in Overland Park, Kansas. “My returning teammates and I will prepare all year for a definite shot at Top 5 in Las Vegas 2021.”
Alexander Hague, another Two-Year Certificate student from Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, said, “The best part of being involved in the Turf Bowl was the opportunity to network and meet with some of the industry’s most influential people.”
The turf bowl championship takes place during the GCSAA’s annual GIS, which includes hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of attendees, and a week full of education sessions taught by the industry’s most renowned researchers, industry experts, and superintendents (including many familiar faces from the Rutgers instructional team!).
“I was honestly surprised at not only the sheer amount of people at the trade show, but also how many schools competed in the Turf Bowl,” said Liam Ryan, a Rutgers 4-Year Degree student and research assistant. “I never realized how big the turf industry was until I saw thousands of people at GIS.”
While in the Sunshine State for the conference and competition, Rutgers also hosted an alumni breakfast. Over fifty Rutgers faculty, staff, and graduates from all over the country attended, which added yet another level of community to the overall event.
“It was a very memorable experience,” said Matthew Cavrak, a Rutgers Two-Year Certificate student from Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, Maryland. “I would love to attend again!”
Learn more about Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School!
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