Learning to putt

March 3, 2015 - On Monday, February 23, 115 fifth-grade students from Boone Elementary visited historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course in San Antonio, Texas, for hands-on environmental science activities. They learned about the difference between storm water and sewer water, ran their hands through soil samples, calculated the area of a practice green, and got to putt – all part of a First Green field trip.

Students weren’t the only ones learning on the golf course. Observing the field trip were over twenty golf course superintendents from around the country who were attending the Golf Industry Show (GIS), sponsored by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). At GIS, golf course superintendents take professional development classes, network, and have a chance to learn about new golf industry products and programs. Like most professional conferences, the show is held indoors.

Superintendents who signed up for the First Green workshop looked forward to the added bonus of getting outdoors for part of their session to learn how they could host STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field trips on their golf courses. Since the temperature ended up reaching a high of only 34 degrees, all of the activities, except for the putting, were held indoors.

The workshop offered superintendents an opportunity to expand local community involvement through hosting students and teachers. Several superintendents now hosting field trips were there to lead the labs and share what works for them at their own golf courses.    

Jon Lobenstine, Director of Agronomy for nine Montgomery County Golf courses in Maryland, said, "The First Green seminar I attended at this year's Golf Industry Show gave me all the information I need to get started with this important outreach program.  I am very excited to get out of the golf bubble and begin telling our story to kids in the community!"

About First Green

  • First Green is an innovative environmental education outreach program using golf courses as environmental learning labs – the only program of its kind. First Green has extensive resources for golf course superintendents, including online lesson plans.
  • First Green has been providing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning since 1997.
  • Golf course superintendents and/or local golf course representatives host students on field trips where they test water quality, collect soil samples, identify plants, design plantings, assist in stream bed restoration and are involved in the ecology and environmental aspects of the golf course. The students are also introduced to many other aspects of golf. 

A tax-exempt nonprofit, First Green was founded in the State of Washington in 1997 and is expanding nationally. For more information and to view introductory First Green videos, visit www.thefirstgreen.org.


Supporters of First Green include the United States Golf Association (USGA) Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Washington State Golf Association, Pacific Northwest Golf Association, the Northwest Turfgrass Association, Western Washington Golf Course Superintendents Association, local golf clubs, public and private school systems, and individual contributors who assist the organization through monetary grants and participation in field trips.


The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is the professional association for the men and women who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable resource — the golf course. Today, GCSAA and its members are recognized by the golf industry as one of the key contributors in elevating the game and business to its current state.

For more information, visit www.gcsaa.org.