Turfgrass specialist receives Clemson’s top agriculture honor

If you ever killed weeds in your lawn, watched your kids play on public athletic fields, sunk a 15-foot putt on a perfect green or rooted for your favorite team playing on its home turf, then you have come in contact with Bert McCarty’s work.

McCarty is internationally recognized for his expertise in turfgrass maintenance and sod production. He is the 2012 recipient of Clemson University’s highest agricultural honor: the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research.

George Askew, associate vice president for public service and agriculture, presented the award to McCarty, the 26th recipient, at Thursday’s year-end faculty meeting.

“Research helps the state’s $1 billion a year golf tourism and turf production industries stay competitive,” said Askew, director of the Clemson Experiment Station, which administers federal and state agricultural research funding. “Bert has secured more than $4.8 million in outside funding for Clemson, which funds both research and graduate students who are the next generation of turfgrass professionals. There are approximately 45 turfgrass majors, many of whom will go on to become golf course superintendents and professional sports field managers or sod producers.”

McCarty’s reputation reaches beyond Clemson.

“As I have traveled the country for our association and met with other turf researchers and professors, I can honestly say that Dr. McCarty is one of the world-renowned leaders in the industry,” said Tim Kreger, executive director of the 1,800-member Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association.

McCarty came to Clemson from the University of Florida in 1996 to research, teach and provide outreach on commercial turfgrass management and sod production.

“He is an incredible source of information,” said Bill Nimmer, vice president of Nimmer Turf and Tree Farm in Ridgeland. “In my opinion no one has had more impact on the expansion and success of the turfgrass industry in South Carolina than Bert McCarty.

“But it may be the undocumented accomplishments for which he is most deserving of this recognition,” Nimmer said. “His ability and willingness to help the turfgrass growers, golf course superintendents and homeowners of this state with all of their issues is unparalleled.”

McCarty has more than 100 refereed publications to his credit, along with eight books that he wrote or edited. His “Best Golf Course Management Practices,” now in its third edition, is a bible for groundskeepers and a textbook for turf management students.

McCarty’s best-seller “Weeds of Southern Turfgrass” is the most successful Extension publication sold in the United States with more than 50,000 copies sold to date.

“You will be hard pressed to find a person in the turf world who does not know Dr. McCarty for his research, books and students,” said Ted Whitwell, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. “He truly demonstrates excellence in agricultural research and is a sterling example of mission-directed research to improve economic sustainability in South Carolina.”

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