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University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers

UMass Winter School Class circa 1930

The 'Massachusetts Agricultural College
Winter Greenkeepers Class' circa 1930


Professor Lawrence S. Dickinson established the 'Winter School for Greenkeepers at Massachusetts Agricultural College' in 1927. The University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers, as the program is now known, was the first program of its kind and has run continuously with the exception of a three year hiatus during World War II. The program remains to this day a top source for turf industry professionals, and many UMass Winter School graduates hold positions of responsibility at prestigious fine turf venues throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

The perennial goal of our Winter School is to convey concepts essential to maintaining high quality turf, with emphasis on environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. This comprehensive, dynamic program is especially suited for experienced professionals associated with the management of golf courses, athletic fields, parks, municipal and private grounds, fine lawns and landscapes.

Winter School is an excellent choice for professionals who seek to expand their knowledge and practical skills. The program is also uniquely suited for those who want to advance in their career, but cannot schedule a two- or four-year program, as well as career changers who want to enter the field of turf management.

Students are immersed in an intensive, full-time program scheduled Monday through Friday for seven weeks. UMass Amherst faculty and distinguished guests lead a combination of classroom, laboratory, group project and discussion activities. Close-knit classes offer an opportunity to learn from the experiences of fellow students and to form relationships that will last a lifetime. A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to those who satisfactorily complete the program requirements.   Enrollment is limited. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission.


The next session of Winter School for Turf Managers will be held in January 9-February 17, 2017.  Click below to download the application for the 2017 session:

2017 UMass Winter School for Turf Managers Application


Through a combination of classroom, laboratory and discussion activities, students can expect to gain an understanding and working knowledge of the items described for each course. All students attend all courses. This is a 7-week intensive program with 2-4 hours homework each night.

Turf Winter School 2010 Plant Science

  • Principles of Turf Management - Principles of fine turf management: basic growth and development of the turfgrass plant and its component parts; turfgrass identification, selection & use; climatic adaptation; establishment practices; nutrition & fertility management; cultural practices including mowing, topdressing, aeration.
  • Advanced Topics in Turf - Competition in turfgrass communities; effects of light, temperature, air and water on turf; prevention & management of environmental stresses.
  • Basic Soil Science - Study of the nature and properties of soils as related to the culture and management of fine turf.
  • Turf Management Calculations - Presentation of typical mathematics involved in maintaining turf: area & volume measurement; fertilizer & pesticide labels & formulations; determination of application rates; equipment calibration; and cost analysis.
  • Arboriculture: Trees and Shrubs - Planting, assessment, identification and maintenance of trees and shrubs in the landscape.

Construction & Engineering

  • Irrigation of Fine Turf - Principles of hydraulics, precipitation rates, irrigation system components & system design. Troubleshooting & retrofitting.
  • Golf Course Design & Construction - Key principles of golf course design & construction techniques appropriate for both new & existing courses.

Pest Management

  • Turfgrass Diseases - Causes and identification of diseases, including how they begin and the environmental conditions that create epidemics and turf damage. Examination of cultural practices and management materials that reduce and prevent diseases.
  • Turfgrass Insects - Discussion of turf damaging insects including: life cycles; integrated pest management strategies; biological & chemical management; and cultural methods for reducing damage.
  • Weed Management in Turf - Principles of weed management: weed biology & life cycles; weed management strategies, including integrated pest management strategies; techniques for effective weed control with reduced pesticide use.
  • Turf Management & the Environment - Impact & interaction between turf and the environment: properties of turfgrass management materials; implications for environmental impact; applicator safety.

Business Management

  • Personnel Supervision - Principles of effective communications and employee supervision for supervisors & managers, with emphasis upon “real-world” applications.
  • Financial Management - Development of operating & capital budgets, breakeven analysis, and other budgetary topics.
  • Special Topics - Various topics, including grooming greens & other fine turf areas, athletic field construction and drainage, and effective personal & organizational interaction.


  • Michelle DaCosta, Ph.D., Associate Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • J. Scott Ebdon, Ph.D., Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Timothy Gerrish, RLA - Gardner and Gerrish Landscape Architects
  • Dave Hawkins, Consulting Arborist and  President - Urban Forestry Solutions, Inc.
  • Geunhwa Jung, Ph.D., Associate Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Jason Lanier, Extension Turf Educator - University of Massachusetts
  • Mary Owen, Extension Turf Specialist - University of Massachusetts
  • Deborah Henson, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer - University of Massachusetts
  • Randall Prostak, Extension Weed Specialist - University of Massachusetts
  • Patricia Vittum, Ph.D.,  Professor - University of Massachusetts

INVITED LECTURERS include, among others:

  • James Skorulski, Senior Agronomist - United States Golf Association Green Section
  • William Spence, Superintendent - The Country Club, Brookline, MA


For general program information (application process, housing, parking, visas)

Academic Programs - UMass Continuing & Professional Education
Phone: 413-545-5202
Fax: 413-577-0864

For more information about the academic aspects of the program (material covered, instructors, class structure), contact:

Dr. Pat Vittum
Academic Coordinator for Winter School
Phone: 413-545-0268