UW Turf Day with grass tennis and golf techniques

“We’re in for the greatest show on turf here today at the University of Wisconsin,” says Paul Koch.

UW-Madison is hosting a day on the turf.

“The thing we do here with 20 acres is we look at all the different ways you can manage turf to achieve your goals,” says Professor Doug Soldat of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “And there are a million different ways to do it.”

As for Doug Soldat and Paul Koch, they brought golf course superintendents to the OJ Noer Research Center, making it clear that this is a labor of love.

“The amount of work that goes into any golf course and maintenance of any golf course is enormous,” Koch says. “And most golfers don’t see that because golf course maintenance starts between 4:30 and 5 a.m. at most golf courses, and they’re off the course by the time most golfers play. So every golf course maintenance team puts in a tremendous amount of work.” Most of it has never been seen.”

OJ Noer, aka Mister Turf, plays an integral role in one of Milwaukee’s great products that aids sustainability and responsible environmentally friendly turf care: Milorganite.

Lance Alan asks: “Is the Milorganite miracle in the bag?”

“Well, Milorganite is great!” Koch says. “Actually, this is not an endorsement but I use Milorganite in my own garden, here in Madison. It is a nice source of slow-release nitrogen. It is impossible to burn the grass like you would with others, as you would with other fertilizer sources.” And you support a company in Wisconsin. So it’s a win-win.”

That’s part of the training? Dealing with winter in Wisconsin.

“They can be brutal,” Koch says. “And we actually have a federally funded study looking at the effects of winter injuries on turf and golf courses in particular. We’re trying to get a better handle on the conditions that lead to them.”

The Noir facility prides itself on being a hidden gem. One of the only grass tennis courts in the Badger State.

Lance Alan asks, “The tennis court is right behind you, I imagine it takes a good level to set that thing up?”

“Yes exactly, they have weeds here that we cut at 1/8th of an inch, which is the thickness of two credit cards stacked together,” Soldat says. “We mow the grass five or six days a week. It’s very intense. But this grass is like a golf course or a grass tennis court.”

“John Powless, he was the former tennis coach at the University of Wisconsin for decades. And the former basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s,” Koch says. “He said this was the best grass he had ever played tennis on. He played at Wimbledon.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Lawn Day shows that you can be green, yet have a great-looking playing surface and lawn. And I’m all about that life.

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