August 25, 2000
Kyle Serman couldn’t help but notice all the new golf courses on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Serman chairs the Delaware Technical and Community College’s Applied Agriculture Department at the Owens Campus in Georgetown. He has extensive experience in farming and education. The instructors in his department include active teachers and those with significant current experience in agribusiness, which helps maintain the popularity of his programs.
This spring the Delaware Tech Board approved Serman’s proposal for a new program in Turf Management. The new degree concentration in Applied Agriculture Technology will start with an emphasis on golf course turf, and then expand to train students interested in other athletic turf management. Its students will join those seeking similar degrees in horticulture, production agriculture, and poultry science. Enrollment in the program for the fall semester is now underway.
“We’re excited about our new turf program. Golf is becoming an increasingly important part of the community. We’re here to serve the community, and we thought we should get in on the ground floor,” Serman explained. “We’re also pleased with the support we’ve received from the turf industry on Delmarva,” he said.
The coursework includes training in irrigation, pest control, equipment management, and soil and water management. Students can even earn their pesticide application license for turf uses from the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
In addition, the students will also help create a new three-hole golf course on the campus grounds. Each hole will be a par 3, using a total of about 8 acres.
“We received a Perkins grant to develop a turf grass laboratory. The golf course is part of the laboratory,” Serman said.
“We’ll be re-arranging some of the drainage ponds and ditches on the property, and create a new pond. The first hole will be about 172 yards long, and the tee shots will go over a part of the pond,” Serman explained. “The second hole will be about 162 yards long, and will head back toward the first hole tee near our greenhouse.”
Serman said the third hole will be built after the first two are completed, and will head nearly due west for about 130 yards. “We need to make sure that the golf balls don’t land in the parking lots,” he grinned.
The students will do much of the course construction work after the initial clearing and grubbing. John Schneider of Endesign did the initial design work for the little course.
“The students will participate in laying out the course, installing the greens, building the bulkheads along the ponds, and building the bridges that are part of the project,” said Serman. “They will gain valuable practice on sodding and seeding. They will learn and practice different methods of irrigation, and also be trained to operate and maintain all the machinery needed for turf maintenance,” he said. “They will also experiment with several small plots of land within the course to see how the different types of turf will perform.”
Delaware Tech will also offer a special course devoted to putting green management. Greens are highly complex environments that require special tools and techniques. Some of the greens are themselves made of artificial turf, and additional courses will be available relating to these new forms of “grass.”
The college also recently purchased a nearby tract of land called the Ellis property. The new acreage will be used for new soccer, softball, and baseball fields. Serman’s turf students will develop the new athletic fields and learn how to manage the grasses under the very different but demanding conditions that those uses involve.
The new turf management program should fit very nicely with the growing recreation business throughout Delmarva, especially golf.
For more information about the new program, call Serman at 302-855-5929.