Martin wins Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research
CLEMSON – A Clemson University turfgrass pathologist is this year’s recipient of the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research.
Bruce Martin, research and Extension turfgrass pathologist for South Carolina, was nominated for the award by Julia Kerrigan, Clemson associate professor of mycology. In her nomination, Kerrigan commended Martin for his interest in, and work with, rapid blight of turf. In 2006, rapid blight of turf was a great concern on golf courses because it quickly killed large patches of turf, especially on putting greens. This disease also received considerable attention because it was a newly discovered species of an aquatic marine organism that was found for the first time on land.
“When I started my position on campus and showed interest in working on this organism, Dr. Martin went out of his way to show me his research techniques, provide cultures and involve me in related projects and meetings,” Kerrigan said. “I was impressed by his depth of knowledge regarding every aspect of the disease and the pathogen.”
Martin researched and determined cultural practices needed to control rapid blight.
“Thanks to Dr. Martin’s studies, rapid blight is no longer a concern for turfgrass managers,” Kerrigan said.
Martin credits his graduate students and technical assistants, as well as others in the Clemson College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS) for helping him achieve this award.
“I could not have done it without them,” he said. “I am extremely honored to receive the award because I know the faculty well in CAFLS and know how many are deserving for their great research programs. My research is very practical and augments my Extension program. It is focused on pathology problems of most importance to the turf industry in S.C. If we have contributed to healthier turf grasses in the industry then I am gratified with those accomplishments.”
Tim Kreger, executive director of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, said Martin has been instrumental in putting the Carolinas’ golf course industry at the forefront of emerging technologies in turfgrass disease management.
“I can speak from a wealth of first-hand experience regarding discussions in the Carolinas who say Dr. Martin has helped them in their work and, in some cases, even ‘saved’ their courses,” Kreger said. “We have GCSA members at more than 80 percent of all golf courses in the Carolinas and Dr. Martin is highly regarded at every one of them.”
Matt Smith, director of the Clemson University Pee Dee Research and Education Center (REC) in Florence where Martin is located, said Martin’s turfgrass research is world renowned. Martin holds turfgrass field days attended by golf course superintendents from all across the globe.
“Dr. Martin’s (turfgrass) program is without a doubt one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the Pee Dee REC,” Smith said. “Golf course superintendents from around the world know him and respect his work. Dr. Martin is one of the nicest guys to work with. He’s at the top of the game.”
In addition to being an exceptional researcher and instructor for golf course personnel, Martin’s associates said he is an outstanding educator as well. Steven Jeffers, a Clemson University plant pathologist and Extension specialist, said Martin goes out of his way to share his knowledge with students in the Clemson horticulture and turfgrass degree programs.
“Even though he has no teaching appointment, Dr. Martin developed and teaches a turfgrass disease course for advanced undergraduates because the students needed and wanted such a course,” Jeffers said. “Dr. Martin takes advantage of distance education technology to deliver lectures from his location at the Pee Dee REC to students in other locations. He goes to great lengths to accommodate the needs of students interested in turfgrass diseases.”
Bert McCarty, also a Clemson horticulture science professor renowned for turfgrass research, commends Martin on his achievement.
“This is just one of the awards Dr. Martin has received for his work related to turfgrass,” McCarty said. “He also has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association as well as the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America – the foremost commodity organization in this area in the world. To my knowledge, he is the first Clemson professor to receive these two awards, which speaks volumes on the internal and external respect he has earned.”
McCarty received the Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Science Award and was named a Crop Science Society of America fellow in 2014. He said awards such as these are reflective of an administration dedicated to encouraging program development and growth.
“It takes a considerable amount of time and experience to develop the expertise industry respects and to learn how best to address the unique problems encountered,” McCarty said. “The Clemson administration allows interested senior faculty to closely interact with the industry not only to keep abreast of new developments but also provide ideas on how to address new agronomic challenges facing the end user. Overtime, this synergism builds to the point others notice these efforts and now are providing appropriate recognition at various levels.”
A highly experienced faculty is creating graduates who are in high demand. According to McCarty, current graduates from the Clemson turfgrass program get multiple job offers in many different sectors of the industry as well as geographical regions of the country. With continued administrative support, McCarty said he expects the Clemson turfgrass program to remain a world-renowned program that earns the respect of those in the turfgrass industry.
Golf is an important industry in South Carolina. An economic impact report just released by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism shows the golf industry was responsible for more than 33,000 jobs in the state in 2015. A breakdown of the economic impact of the golfing industry on South Carolina shows:
- $2.705 billion in output or sales,
- $881 million in personal income, and
- $270 million in federal, state and local taxes.
- Green fees and club membership dues generated $13.0 million in admissions tax revenue alone, accounting for 36 percent of state admissions tax collections.
The report, created by Dudley Jackson, research director for the department, also shows travelers to South Carolina who played golf during their trips spent more than $935 million at hotels and restaurants, as well as other retail and entertainment venues. The top golf destinations in South Carolina in 2015 were Myrtle Beach (50 percent), Charleston (22 percent) and Hilton Head Island (15 percent). The median age of golf visitors was 55 with a median household income of $100,000 to $125,000.