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University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers


Winter School students participate in a grass ID lab. The UMass Winter School for Turf Managers is a certificate program designed to convey concepts essential to maintaining high quality turf, with emphasis on environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. This comprehensive, dynamic short course 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 practitioners 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 six weeks. Classes are scheduled: Mon-Th 8 AM - 5 PM, and Fri 8 AM - noon. This schedule is designed to accommodate weekend commuters who may want to stay in the Amherst area Monday through Thursday evenings but head home on the weekends. Some area hotels offer special accommodation and rate packages for UMass Winter School students.

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.


Mary Owen teaches at Winter School. A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to those who satisfactorily complete the program requirements. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission.

Pesticide recertification contact hours will be offered for all New England states, and 20.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available.


The next available session of Turf Winter School will be held in the winter of 2021 in a completely remote format.  The program is currently under development and more details will be available soon.  To inquire, refer to the contacts below.  To receive further information and immediate notification when the application period opens, be sure to join our e-mail list.

Tuition Reimbursement

Employers! For eligible employers, the Winter School tuition fee may be partially reimbursed through the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Express Grant Program. Employers should submit an online application to the Express Grant Program at least 6 weeks in advance of the Winter School starting date. To find out if you qualify and to apply for benefits, go to Search for 'University of Massachusetts Amherst' in the Training Directory that can be accessed at Reference course ID # 1111578 on your application. For questions and additional information for the Workforce Training Fund Express Program, contact that program at (617) 717-6903 or


Winter School students participate in a grass ID lab. Through a rigorous 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, and typically are responsible for an average of 2-4 hours homework/study time each night.

  • 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; cultural practices including mowing, topdressing, and aeration.
  • Basic Soil Science - Study of the nature and properties of soils as related to the culture and management of fine turf.
  • Advanced Topics in Turf - Competition in turfgrass communities; effects of light, temperature, air and water on turf; prevention & management of environmental stresses.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Arboriculture: Trees and Shrubs - Planting, assessment, identification and maintenance of trees and shrubs in the landscape.
  • Irrigation of Fine Turf - Principles of hydraulics, precipitation rates, irrigation system components & system design. Troubleshooting & retrofitting.
  • Special Topics - Grooming greens & other fine turf areas, managing athletic fields, developing effective personal & organizational communication skills, and other pertinent topics.

Key Faculty

  • Jason Lanier teaches at Winter School.Michelle DaCosta, Ph.D., Associate Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • J. Scott Ebdon, Ph.D., Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Deborah Henson, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer - University of Massachusetts
  • Geunhwa Jung, Ph.D., Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Olga Kostromytska, Ph.D., Extension Assistant Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Jason Lanier, M.S., Extension Specialist - University of Massachusetts
  • Melissa LeVangie, Certified Arborist, TRAQ, CTSP, Petersham Tree Warden - Shelter Tree, Inc
  • James Poro, M.S., Superintendent, Joseph Troll Turf Research Center - University of Massachusetts
  • Randall Prostak, M.S., Extension Weed Specialist - University of Massachusetts

Please note that the program reserves the right to make scheduling and/or instructor changes when necessary.


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

Academic Programs - UMass Online Education

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

Jason Lanier
Academic Coordinator for Winter School
Phone: 413-545-2965

UMass Winter School Class circa 1930

The 'Massachusetts Agricultural College
Winter Greenkeepers Class' circa 1930

Winter School: A Distinguished History

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.