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Comparing Cultural Practices at the Birth Place of Turf by Devon Carroll, Turfgrass Science Major

Posted: June 6, 2016

Stepping foot on the Old Course at St Andrews was an awe inspiring moment. This was not only the birthplace of golf but also of my future career.
Caddying the Old Course at St Andrews

Caddying the Old Course at St Andrews

There are vast differences in American golf courses and the traditional links courses found in Ireland and Scotland. The opportunity to see these differences first hand at some of the best kept turf facilities in the world was an experience I will never forget. This trip was truly the capstone to my Penn State education. Knowledge from the classroom was brought to life walking on some of the oldest golf courses in the world.

The trip started in Ireland, visiting Adare Manor, Ballybunion, and the Royal Curragh Golf Club. Students had the opportunity to meet with the architect, project managers, and greens keepers of these famous turf sites while receiving a tour of the grounds and maintenance facility. Differences in management where quickly made evident after visual assessment and the opportunity to discuss agronomics with turf managers.

The group then moved on to Dublin where we had the chance to truly experience Irish culture. Tours of the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery gave an inside look at the birth of Ireland’s acclaimed beverages. Students also visited Croke Park, the field Penn State played its international game on in 2014.The pitch manager gave students an in-depth understanding of how he manages a turf site to such perfection.

From Dublin we flew to Glasgow Scotland to visit more golf clubs and the home of golf. We toured Trump Turnberry and Loch Lomond before heading to St Andrews. Trump Turnberry is a course owned by Donald Trump. It was interesting to see how he put a bit of an American spin on a traditional Scottish links site. Loch Lomond is located in a national park right on the loch and shows great history in its stone structures.

The highlight of the trip was visiting St Andrews, the birthplace of golf and turfgrass science. This location became the first human managed turf site. Students had the opportunity to play a round of golf on the New Course. We visited the Castle Course and Kingsbarnes before visiting the famed Old Course. The Old Course is indescribable. History fills the air. Hundreds of years ago, sheep grazing near the ocean created what is now the most notable golf course in the world. I had the opportunity to be a caddy that day. This was the most exciting experience Penn State has provided me. It was an incredible day to walk the entirety of the course and fully admire its foundation.

This trip was a phenomenal experience that brought my education to a new level. It also allowed me to share an experience with other students and faculty that has brought us all together. I gained a new appreciation for turfgrass management while becoming immersed in new culture and learning to be independent.