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June 7, 2016

MSU turfgrass expert named to Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

Michigan State University plant pathologist Joseph M. Vargas has been inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, not for his prowess on the course but for his research efforts off-the-greens to advance the industry.

Throughout his 48-year career, Vargas has authored more than 200 articles on turfgrass disease and wrote a leading textbook on turfgrass management. A professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, he has been instrumental in discovering a variety of pests that threaten the common Poa annua turfgrass variety, as well as identifying the causes of black layer in sand-based turf soils.

“I was very surprised to be inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame and very honored,” Vargas said. “Nobody wins an award by themselves, and I’m no exception. I’ve had great colleagues, great people working for me and great family support. I know I’m not the first to say that, but it’s true.”

Recently, Vargas has released a new cultivar called Flagstick, which has shown resistance to dollar spot in long-term field trials conducted at MSU and at several other locations across the country. Dollar spot is the most common disease afflicting golf courses in Michigan and throughout the northeastern United States.

“Flagstick is a tremendous new turfgrass,” said Gordon LaFontaine, executive director of the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation. “The industry spends so much on spraying for dollar spot on golf courses. Having a dollar-spot-resistant cultivar on golf course greens, tees and especially fairways, encompassing acres of turf, will likely result in financial savings to golf courses as well as reduced environmental impact from fewer fungicide applications.”

for more information on the Michigan Golf Foundation, which conducts the annual election for the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, visit their website

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