Golf Course Ecology

Golf courses provide hundreds of acres of continuously vegetated land amidst urban areas. The majority of land on golf courses is out-of-play or underutilized by golfers; however, this land is often irrigated and/or highly maintained. As urbanization and human population growth progress, water and wildlife conservation are increasingly important. Golf courses provide opportunities to create habitats that provide aesthetic and environmental benefits and cut back on the monetary and environmental costs of management. My goal is to help superintendents understand the costs and benefits associated with these habitats so that they can do what is most appropriate for their course.

With the largest golf industry in the U.S., Florida is saturated with opportunities to demonstrate the ecological benefits that golf courses can provide. I am interested in the role golf courses play in the ecology of insects in urban landscapes at the local and landscape scale. I hope to provide superintendents with the tools and knowledge to enhance their golf courses and the industry. My lab has 3 primary areas of interest:

  1. How can under-utilized areas of golf courses be converted from managed turfgrass to functional habitats that require less water, pesticides, and maintenance?
  2. How can alternative habitats provide insect pest management and conservation services on golf courses?
  3. How does geographic location and surrounding habitat type affect what insects live on and utilize golf courses, and how can we use this information to inform management decisions?
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Underutilized turfgrass adjacent to golf course fairways – Photo: A.G. Dale

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Wildflower plot adjacent to fairways and tee box began flowering in early March 2017 – Photo: A.G. Dale

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These plots are attractive to pollinating and predatory insects, conserving wildlife that provide multiple services.