On Wednesday, April 27, the Heart of America Golf Course Superintendents Association sponsored its second First Green event held at Heritage Park Golf Course. Golf Course Superintendent Ethan Shamet hosted Merriam Park Elementary School, and the sixth grade students were treated to a well-organized event demonstarting how STEM education could be used in golf course maintenance.
There were five stations set up for the class:
Math: Students worked on using stimpmeters to calculate green speeds by Mike Maas, Sandy Queen and HPGC crew member Jared Morris. President of the HAGCSA, Jonathan Bennett, took the kids through a complex process of calculating the cost and amount of materials that would be needed to build a green. They also learned how to use tape measures (this was more of a challenge than I had anticipated) and calculate square footage of irregular shapes and the definition of “Pie” (Pi), not the kind you eat.
Water Conservation/Soils: This station was run by Dr. Jack Fry of K-State fame, along with one of his key staff, Dani McFadden, so the kids were treated to outstanding professionals that were truly experts. I am sure they learned more than they had expected.
Golf/Putting: As you would guess, this is the kids’ #1 favorite station. School and learning are great, but golf is just FUN. This station was run by Golf Professional Rob Wilkin and HPGC crew member Marc Shinn. I am not sure if anyone made a hole-in-one, but I did hear a lot of yelling from that station.
Cool Tools and What We Do: This station was led by Matt Gourlay, Jeff White and the HPGC assistant Drew Murphy. Here they got to see all our specialty tools: soil probes, moisture meters, cup changers, firmness measuring tools (the thumper) and most important, divot tools and how to repair a ball mark. There was also a demonstration on how and why cups are changed, tee markers moved, divots filled etc.
Equipment: Ethan had much of his equipment set out so the kids could see what we use to maintain the golf course. Students got to sit on and have details explained on how and why each piece of equipment is used. This section was manned by Andy Klein, Richard Shumate, James Kennedy, with help by Darrel Silver and Alex McLoughlin of HPGC.
The First Green Program was a real success and one that we all need to embrace at our golf courses. In my 48 years in the golf business, I have not seen a more effective way to get students and teachers out onto our golf courses. When non-golfers get a chance to get out on the golf course and learn and understand what we do, they easily become advocates for what golf means to the communities and the environment.
I would like to acknowledge the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) for their support of the program and Mike Maas, Reinders, Inc., and Wes Kleffner, Bayer Environmental Science for their donation of pizza and drinks for students and volunteers.
Written by Sandy G. Queen, CGCS, Retired, Heart of America Executive Director.