AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts Amherst has a hidden gem ... one of the nation’s best-respected programs for training future managers of golf courses, athletic fields, parks and other venues where turf is all important. For these students, it’s all about turfgrass, and it shows. A team of four UMass students placed third in the nation in the top competition in their field - the National Collegiate Turf Bowl competition, held in Orlando, Fla. in February.
UMass Amherst’s winning team included Eric Cronin of Peabody, Robert Fitzgerald of North Andover, Royal Healy of Marshfield, Vt. and Michael McCormick of Sudbury. The students competed by excelling in a three-hour exam testing their knowledge in various areas of turfgrass science and management, including growth and development, physiology, soils and fertility, pest management, the environmental, calculations, and business and personnel management.
This year marks the second year in a row for a top-three finish for UMass. Campus teams also placed 22nd and 25th this year. Trained by a team of seven UMass faculty and staff led by Michelle DaCosta, a plant physiologist in the university’s department of plant, soil and insect sciences, students from this program take up positions all across the country after graduation.
This year, the students were able to travel to Orlando to compete because of the support of their fellow students in the UMass Turf Club, who through their efforts providing lawn and landscape services to the homeowners of the Amherst area, raised $7,000 to defer costs of the trip.
In addition to the third-place finishers the members of UMass’ other two winning teams, all of whom are studying sustainable turf management in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, included Alden Maddocks of Manchester, Vt., Ryan McGillivray of North Andover, Peter White of Worcester, Edward Coffin, Jr. of Nantucket, William Crosby of Boxborough and Scott St. Pierre of West Yarmouth.
Identification of students in photographs:
3rd place team (from left to right)
All UMass competitors (from left to right)
Scott St. Pierre