Bert McCarty: Turf Grass Science

Bert McCarty
Horticulture, Clemson University

Turf is a major economic impact for the state citizens of South Carolina. Hi my name is Bert McCarty I'm a professor of horticulture at Clemson University in beautiful Clemson, South Carolina. I specialize in turf grass science; my job is to keep grass green. In the state of South Carolina we have over four-hundred golf courses. 

Each one of these golf courses have an operating budget of between a half to one million dollars a year with a majority of that going to personnel.  So obviously golf and other turf entities are a major economic driving impact to the state citizens of South Carolina. Our major grass growing in the state during the summer is bent grass. Bent grass suffers when we get to the heat and moisture stress of the summer conditions in South Carolina so I try to figure out ways to make that grass stay greener with less input. Other avenues of turf grass interests in the state are sports field, sod farms and of course home lawns.

Another major economic impact of turf grass in the state of South Carolina are playing surfaces for sports fields athletic complexes, etc. We have in the state over eight hundred that we know of sports fields in South Carolina and of course each one of those have their own economic imputs to the state economy.  These sports fields, especially at the college level and higher, are specially built.  For example Death Valley here at Clemson University is built on pure sand.  It has an underlying drainage system, sand cap and then it has a tifway of 419 Bermuda grass turf on it. 

The sand is because it has to be able to drain when you have a major sporting event.  When you have TV contracts at stake you got to get the games in on time so it has optimum drainage and performs very well for our coaches and players here at the state. And most of the sports fields have some kind of modification so that drainage is a major consideration to try to get games in on time.

A major source of information for the citizens who have more interest on turf grass in South Carolina, how to grow them, can be found on our website here at Clemson University at clemson.edu/turfornamental/. Also we have several textbooks at Clemson; one is called Best Golf Course Management Practices, which I am the senior author of as well as many of the co-authors here at Clemson University.  There are also publications on how to manage sports fields, how to grow good yards or lawns and also how to go into sod production.  So we have a vast knowledge and information for those who are interested in this area.