ISU Turf Club wins Florida competition

Sarah Haas

Members of the ISU Turf Club performed a cut above the rest in the 14th annual Collegiate Turf Bowl Championship earlier this month.

For the seventh time in eight years, an Iowa State team placed first in a field of 92 competitors in an arduous three-and-a-half hour-examination. The tests challenged the students’ knowledge of an assortment of topics related to turf management, including entomology, horticulture, agronomy and plant pathology, said Matt Klingenberg, graduate student in horticulture and one of the club’s coaches.

The first-place ISU team consisted of four seniors in horticulture: Shane Brockhoff, Adam Hebbel, Matt Hoffman and Brad Johnson.

The club sent six four-person teams to the competition in Florida this year. Teams take the examination as a group and work together to prepare for it, said Klingenberg, who competed on a winning team while he was an undergraduate student.

“How each team prepares really varies with the team,” Klingenberg said. “When I competed, one person would take a subject. I knew all about the identification of the grasses, one guy would do mathematics. Everyone has a general knowledge, but then you have a specialized area of expertise.”

The competition has two distinct parts. The first consists of a case study in which the teams are asked questions dealing with a specific scenario.

The teams must write a blue-book-style report in 30 minutes. A 30-page packet requiring teams to identify on the golf course follows, and the teams receive three hours to complete it, Klingenberg said.

“If you’re lucky, you can finish the entire packet,” he said.

The teams’ destinies are up to them, Klingenberg said.

“Our club has packets of information that was on pervious tests, and every year we try to add to that information,” Klingenberg said.

“We also hold hour review sessions for them so we can review what we’ve learned in our labs for class and get the information down.”

The club began holding review sessions a couple of weeks before winter break so team members had time to memorize information about biology and soil science, although some teams began preparing early.

Klingenberg said team members are motivated to do well because placing first has become a team tradition.

“They’re all motivated to keep the tradition alive and well,” he said.

In addition to competing, the teams are able to interact with professionals in the industry – one of the goals of Turf Club.

“The big attraction is the conference trade show that has thousands of people attending,” Klingenberg said.

“There are exhibitors from lawn companies, different mowers and types of fertilizers. We have a booth and we try to network and meet prospective employers.”