sealPurdue News

June 1995

New Purdue golf course would blend athletics, academics

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new Purdue University championship golf course could be a hole-in-one for golfers, students and environmentalists.

If Purdue can attract the $5.5 million to $6.5 million from private supporters to upgrade its golf complex and redesign one of its 18-hole courses, renowned designer Pete Dye will contribute his design and consulting fees.

The project also would involve the School of Agriculture's planned turfgrass research center. Studies in turf, horticulture, forestry and other areas, as well as teaching and Cooperative Extension Service programs, would take place as part of the overall golf program.

"The location and expansion of the turf research program into a center adjacent to the golf course will strengthen the growing partnership between athletics and academics," says Morgan J. Burke, director of intercollegiate athletics.

"While it is not unusual for a university to have a championship golf course, it is unusual for such a course to incorporate academic turf research. Purdue's golf course could be used as a real-life learning lab for students."

He sees other benefits, as well: "Certainly, a world-class course would be a tremendous boost for our varsity golf program and for everyone who plays the Purdue courses. The reconfigured course would have the potential to attract state and national events to Purdue."

The cost of the project includes the redesign of Purdue's North Course; improvements to the 18-hole South Course; an enhanced practice range; new clubhouse, cart storage and shelter facilities; and installation of the agriculture school's Turfgrass Research and Diagnostic Center. The center will be co-directed by Clark Throssell, professor of agronomy, and Zac Reicher, turf specialist with Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

The outdoor plots will allow researchers to investigate ways to control certain turf problems, conduct environmental research on the breakdown of turf chemicals, and look for ways to apply environmentally friendly agronomic techniques such as biological pest control to lawns and turf.

The research plots also will be a teaching aid to let students do hands-on work, Throssell says. "We'll create problems in the turf plots so that we can show people what happens with the misapplication of chemicals, or what weeds and various plant diseases look like," he says. "This will greatly increase the students' comprehension of what we are teaching."

The new facility also will allow more students to enroll in turf management classes. Turf management, a major degree program in Purdue's Department of Agronomy, has one of the best placement rates in the university. Most graduates go to work as golf course superintendents.

In addition to the outdoor research plots, the turf researchers also plan to use the two Purdue golf courses as living laboratories to examine the results of research, such as stress on turf plants, that's nearly impossible to recreate in a lab, Throssell says.

"One of the holes on the new course will be set up so that it has two fairways that use a single set of tees and single green," he says. "That will allow us to shut down one of the fairways at certain times so that researchers or students can get out there to examine the results of their research."

Construction of the research facility is expected to be completed by the opening of the new golf course three years from now.

Dye's layout will provide an environmental benefit, Burke says, because it extends the course to the south and west edges of a nearby wetland, virtually assuring that no future land development will threaten the wetland's ecosystem.

Dye says: "There's been a lot of misinformation about golf courses and their negative impact on the environment, even though golf courses have been a forerunner in being environmentally sensitive. This is an opportunity for Purdue to be a leader in further research that shows how golf courses are environmentally sensitive and can actually be a total enhancement to the environment."

Dye, who lives in Carmel, Ind., is known for his concern for the environment. Golf World magazine named him Architect of the Year in 1994.

Dye, who took turf-management classes at Purdue in the 1950s, was asked by a Purdue alumnus to visit the two Purdue golf courses and suggest improvements.

"Mr. Dye believes this could be the finest university golf course in the country," says Robert H. Prange, director of golf operations at Purdue. "All the elements of a great layout are present, and the partnership with the Purdue School of Agriculture will allow us to do some very creative things."

Purdue will seek to have the course certified as environmentally friendly through the Audubon Signature Cooperative Sanctuary Program administered by the Audubon Society of New York. That program is for newly designed golf courses that enhance the environment and wildlife.

Because no state funds or student fees are involved in any Purdue athletics project, private support is being sought to fund the course redesign as well as the turf center. If sufficient funding is raised, work will begin in fall 1996 in conjunction with a state highway project that will widen a road that passes through the North Golf Course.

Sources: Morgan Burke, (765) 494-3189
Pete Dye, (765) 843-0591
Clark Throssell, (765) 494-4785; Internet,
Robert Prange, (765) 494-3217
Zac Reicher, (765) 494-9737; Internet,
Writer: Ellen Rantz, (765) 494-2073; Internet,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Color photo of two agriculture researchers working with a turf sample is available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. To receive the text of this news release via e-mail, send an e-mail message with the text "send punews 9505f36" to this address: Purdue News Service also maintains a searchable data base of faculty experts and posts news releases, experts lists and story tips on a web server at and a gopher server at The web site also offers selected downloadable photographs.

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