By Dr. Andrew McNitt

Mr. Nicholas Gialloreto (Senior Turfgrass Science) was presented with the prestigious Watson undergraduate scholarship at the Sports Turf Manager's Conference in San Jose, CA. Nick has extensive experience in the turfgrass industry. He started out in Golf Turf but has since made the switch to athletic field management and has worked for both the single A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and interned at PNC Park home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nick is currently Penn State's turf club president and will be interning with the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.

The Watson Scholarship is the highest undergraduate scholarship offered by the Sports Turf Manager's Association and is named for the first Ph.D. in Turfgrass Science, Dr. James Watson who received his Ph.D. from Penn State in 1950.

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Penn State turfgrass students,

The Turf Club would like to open an invitation to anyone interested in taking over as the new GCSAA student representative, and the Vice President for the fall of 2009. Students must be available the entire school term 2009 and spring 2010.

GCSAA student representative - responsibilities include but not limited to updating Turf Club blog, leading club activities, distributing GCSAA membership applications and relevant information, and continuing the strong relationship between GCSAA and Penn State University.

Vice President - responsibilities include but not limited to assisting the President in club activities, fundraisers, and recruiting new students.

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Ecton discusses operation at Heinz Field

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can you imagine what it is like to manage the football field of one the country's most prolific franchises? Students were all ears to Chris Ecton, Pittsburgh Steelers field manager.

Ecton discussed a variety of maintenance procedures including the fertility program, aerification process, re-sodding to his relationship with the Rooney family.

More information to come.

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Recent Graduate Overcomes Obstacles

Monday, March 16, 2009

By Dina G. Avvakumova

2-year program graduate (2009)

When I applied to the Penn State University, my superintendent Steve Bruton, a 1992 Penn State graduate, told me that the academic demand and expectations would be extremely difficult to study for a number of reasons. I really did not know what to expect coming from Moscow, Russia, but I came in with an open mind, and the willingness to do whatever it took to succeed.

Penn State is recognized around the world as an innovative and very difficult academic program. I had to develop time management skills to meet the academic demand. Also, I had to overcome the language barrier. I realized how different people communicated with one another during my first classes in September 2007. Yes, it was hard, but I learned how to overcome both challenges and exceed any of my expectations.

I strived to become a better student, a better communicator, but also enjoy my entire Penn State experience. After the first year of the program, I was able to apply class related concepts during my internship at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club in Moscow. The club is the first Jack Nicklaus golf course in Russia. This was quite an experience, it was reassuring to know the information I learned at Penn State was practical.

Prior to graduation, I was named a recipient of theTrans-Mississippi Turf Scholarship, and the 2009 Duff Shaw Memorial Scholarship for my academic success, extracurricular involvement and internship experience.

I did not begin to realize how much material I learned, and how much I grew as a person and turf manager until I returned to Moscow. I can honestly say, I am very lucky to have lasting relationships with classmates, and instructors. It was such an honor to study under professors like Dr. Watschke and Dr. Turgeon.

I cannot begin to describe how proud I am to be a Penn State alum. I will carry on the lessons I learned at Penn State as a construction/grow-in superintendent at the Metropolitan Golf Club Devyatka, Moscow.

Dina G. Avvakumova recently graduatd from Penn State University’s two-year Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program. She was a past secretary for the Turf Club, and participated in two GCSAA Turf Bowl competitions. Dina can be reached at

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2-year Students Accept Certificates

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jasmine Steinke, Dina Avvakumova, Jackie Gierach

Scholarship Award Winners
Brandon Crim, Ryan Golay, Jasmine Steinke, John Jacques

2-year Turfgrass Management Graduates

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PSU Alum Takes Over as GCSAA President

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mark Kuhns, director of grounds at Baltusrol Golf Club, was elected as the new GCSAA president. Kuhns graduated from Penn State University in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in agricultural science.

Read this month's issue of GCM here to find out more information on Mark Kuhns.

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Saucon Valley Country Club (Bethlehem, PA) golf course superintendent, James Roney, earned the GCSAA/Golf Digest top environmental leader award for private golf facility.

Check out the article here.

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In case anyone has been hiding in a cave the past four months, Penn State Men's basketball team is making some noise. Thursday, the Nittany Lions pulled off an improbable sweep of Illinois on Taylor Battle's last second layup, which sent the Nittany Nation into a frenzy. Students rushed the court to celebrate one of the most successful seasons in men's basketball history. The victory puts Penn State as a lock to enter the "Big Dance".

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Scholarship Deadlines Approaching

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Penn State Turfgrass Students,

There are two GCSAA scholarship deadlines approaching in the month of March.

  1. Par Aide's Joseph S. Garske Collegiate Grant Program: Deadline March 15. This grant is available to the children of GCSAA members who have been active members for five or more consecutive years. Applicants must be graduating high school seniors and accepted at institutions of higher learning for the upcoming year. Read more.

  2. GCSAA Student Essay Contest: Deadline March 31. Applicants must be undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in turfgrass science, agronomy or any other field related to golf course management. Read more.

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Over a month ago, students from Penn State University's Turfgrass Science program traveled to sunny San Diego, California for the Sports Turf Manager's Association National Conference. Each year, students compete in the student competition against other turf students/schools from across the country.

The competition consists of a 3 hour exam covering topics such as Soil Physical Properties and Chemical Properties, Turfgrass Growth and Development, Weeds and Management, Insect ID and Management, and an essay section among other issues.

And once again, the Nittany Lions prevailed! T
his year's winning team included Matt Elmore, Nicholas Gialloreto, Tanner DeValle and Nicholas LeViere. Penn State's other four-year team finished third.

Since 2005, Penn State University has won three out of the five competitions, and has placed in the top three each year.

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By Tyler Bloom
GCSAA Student President

Aside from walking Rodeo Drive, conversing with Southern Cal Trojan fans, and visiting many tourist hot spots, one of the key highlights of my four-day Rose Bowl trip was a pit stop at historic Riveria Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

My uncle and I took a "scenic" route to the golf course, but eventually found the course tucked inside a heavily secure neighborhood off of Sunset Drive. We couldn't have asked for better weather - clear and cool temperatures with the sun peaking off the San Gabriel Mountains around 10 a.m.

From the moment we made our way through the clubhouse, I was completely awestruck at the history and layout of the golf course. To say the golf course was immaculate would be an understatement. Matt Morton, golf course superintendent, and his staff really have a gem to work with.

The 1926 George C. Thomas design has played host to five major championships, and has been nicknamed "Hogan's Alley" for his unprecedented three straight tournament victories at Riveria. Also, the club hosts the Northern Trust Open, one of the more prolific annual PGA Tour events. Phil Mickelson won his second consecutive NTO title last month.

"The Riv" has such a unique layout and appeal to it. The tight fairways, small target type greens, and picturesque views were far different than golf courses in the East. The course is a par 71, at a length of 6,950 from the back tees.

The Nittany Lions' loss to the Men of Troy made the trip a little bittersweet, but touring the facilities at Riviera was special.

Note of interest: In 1998, Penn State turfgrass alum, Mr. Paul R. Latshaw, hosted the 1998 Men's Senior PGA Championship at Riveria Country Club.

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