The USGA has renamed its Turfgrass Environmental Research Program – the golf industry’s largest private grant program dedicated to sustainability and improved on-course experience – in honor of outgoing Chief Executive Officer Mike Davis. Golf’s governing body annually invests almost $2 million in the program and has committed $45 million overall to advance innovation that’s resulted in better playing conditions, significant cost savings, and a more environmentally-friendly game.
The initiative will now be known as the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management.
Davis announced last fall that he’d be leaving the USGA at the end of 2021 to pursue a longtime passion for golf course design and construction, teaming with Tom Fazio II. He’s spent more than three decades with the organization, having joined the USGA in 1990. Davis became best known for his setup of championship courses, notably the U.S. Open venues, and took over as the USGA’s seventh executive director in 2011 before assuming the role of CEO in 2016.
“Throughout his time at the USGA, Mike Davis’ vision to lead the game forward through golf course sustainability has propelled the success of this program, ensuring that every golfer has a great playing experience and every owner has access to the latest innovations to manage their course,” said USGA President Stu Francis. “With his passion for golf courses and data-driven decision-making, we could not find a better program to share his name and inspire a sustainable future for golf.”
Over the past decade, water usage in golf has decreased by more than 20% and nutrient usage is down by almost 40%, thanks to innovations and improvements directly attributable to the USGA’s research program. The investment has led to an estimated $1.86 billion in savings annually by incorporating more natural areas on golf courses, improving water management efforts, and implementing best practices that include reduced pesticide use and standardized putting green construction, among others.
Sports and other playing fields worldwide now use turfgrasses (such as bentgrass and bermudagrass) that were first selected and improved through the USGA program to improve drought resistance, promote the use of recycled water and irrigate more effectively on golf courses.