Doug Soldat

Dr. Doug Soldat

Department of Soil Science
263A Soil Science
1525 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI  53706

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Paul Koch

Dr. Paul Koch

Department Plant Pathology
Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI  53706


Is a career in Turf and Grounds Management right for you? Choosing an enjoyable and rewarding career is a difficult decision. The following questions should help you decide if a career in Turf and Grounds Management would be to your liking:

  • Are you prepared to continue your study of the basic sciences (mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology for example) to gain knowledge of soil science, horticulture, agronomy, plant pathology and agricultural engineering as they apply to turf and grounds management?
  • Are you willing to undertake field training while attending college?
  • Are you interested in continuing education necessary in a changing technical field?
  • Do you receive personal gratification from physical labor and accomplishments that you can see?
  • Do you enjoy working outdoors in all types of weather and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings?
  • Are you willing to work as many hours per day as it takes to get a job done?
  • Are you willing to assume a variety of responsibilities that range from record keeping and budgeting to equipment repair and tree pruning?
  • Do you desire leadership and supervisory responsibilities?
  • Do you enjoy working with people as well as equipment?
  • Are you self-motivated?

If you answered “yes” to most, if not all these questions, chances are excellent that you are up to the challenges of a career in turf and grounds management.

Across all our turfgrass educational offerings, a strong emphasis is placed on professional work experience. Students gain knowledge of equipment operation, landscape construction, drainage, pesticide use and application, irrigation, fertilization and other crucial practices. Students usually work full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. Placement for summer employment is virtually guaranteed thanks to support from the program’s alumni. Alumni include a network of golf course superintendents, lawn care managers, landscape managers, and sales personnel for companies specializing in turf products. Additionally, faculty are able to place students through other professional contacts across the nation and internationally.

The cornerstone of the UW-Madison Turfgrass Educational Programs is the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility. The facility is adjacent to UW’s championship golf course-University Ridge. Proximity to the UW-Madison campus provides students full access to both facilities and the opportunity to significantly enhance the quality of their educational experience. The Noer facility has research and demonstration plots that are used for teaching purposes, as well as a fully video-equipped classroom. Turfgrass laboratories are held at the Facility to conduct hands-on exercises that stress understanding of the latest turfgrass technology.


Education in Turf and Grounds Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an opportunity to get involved in a lucrative and highly respected profession. The program offers a unique opportunity for students who want a broad education as well as a specialty. Turf and Grounds Management incorporates the principles embodied in soil science, horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, landscape architecture, ecology, business management and public relations to prepare you for a highly successful career.  Graduates have little difficultly obtaining positions as golf course superintendents, assistant golf course superintendents, lawn care specialists, turf product sales personnel, institution grounds supervisors, athletic field managers and landscape specialists. We over several different educational options to help you achieve your specific career goals.

Click the boxes below to learn more about the options:

+Turfgrass Apprenticeship Program

The UW-Madison Turfgrass Apprenticeship Program (TAP) is a 2-step program that consists of a 12-week, in-person educational bootcamp and a field-based apprenticeship at a golf course, athletic complex, or other turf facility. The program provides participants with the hands-on, real-world experience needed to succeed in the turfgrass industry. Successful completion of both the bootcamp and the apprenticeship is required to earn the Turfgrass Apprenticeship Program Certificate.

Step 1: Educational Bootcamp

The educational bootcamp is a 12-week, in-person program run by UW-Madison professors Doug Soldat and Paul Koch that offers an applied turfgrass education in a compressed period without compromising the quality of the course content. The majority of classes will take place on the UW-Madison campus, though regular ‘shop talk’ visits will be made to local turfgrass facilities to gain hands-on education on a range of topics from practicing turfgrass professionals.

The bootcamp will take place over two 6-week terms during the late fall and winter that allows for working students to complete seasonal tasks in the field prior to starting class in the fall, and to complete classes in the winter prior to the start of the following growing season. The fall term starts the first week of November and ends in mid-December, and the winter term starts the second full week of January and ends in mid-February. Each week will have class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 AM until 3 PM CST with a 1-hour break for lunch. This compressed schedule allows those that don’t want to commute daily to book housing for only 2 nights per week. Regular attendance and completion of quizzes, projects, and exams will be expected of each student. There will be no class during the week of Thanksgiving in the fall term and during the GCSAA Conference in the winter term.

Tuition for the 2023-2024 bootcamp will be $4000 for the entire 12-week program. This cost is the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Payment of tuition will be due by the end of the second week of classes in the fall term, and full refunds will be offered to any student that withdraws by the end of the second week of class. Contact Dr. Paul Koch or Dr. Doug Soldat for questions about program costs and payments.

The 2023-2024 UW-Madison Turfgrass Apprenticeship Program is as follows:

Term Class Time (CST) Primary Instructor Start Date End Date
Fall Introduction to Turfgrass Management 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Paul Koch November 7th, 2023 December 21st, 2023
Fall Introduction to Turfgrass Soils 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Doug Soldat November 7th, 2023 December 21st, 2023
Fall Turfgrass Irrigation and Drainage 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Doug Soldat November 7th, 2023 December 21st, 2023
Spring Nutrient Management 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Doug Soldat January 9th, 2024 February 22nd, 2024
Spring Integrated Pest Management 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Paul Koch January 9th, 2024 February 22nd, 2024

Housing is not provided by UW-Madison during the bootcamp, but we will work to provide a number of affordable hotel options in the Madison area and coordinate hotel stays among the students so that most or all students who wish to stay in Madison can stay in the same hotel. We anticipate that hotel costs for two nights per week during the 12-week program will be less than $2000, and those costs will decrease considerably for those students interested in a roommate.

There will be significant scholarship money available to support student tuition and housing costs from a variety of turfgrass associations, including the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association, Wisconsin Golf Course Superintendents Association, Wisconsin Sports Turf Managers Association, Wisconsin Sod Producers Association, among other sources. More information on scholarships and how to apply for them will be provided in the first week of class during the fall term, and all scholarships will be awarded by the end of the fall term. Please contact Dr. Paul Koch or Dr. Doug Soldat for more information on TAP scholarships.

Step 2: Field-based Apprenticeship

Students in the TAP will also be required to complete a field-based apprenticeship at a golf course, athletic complex, or other turf management facility of their choosing. A list of tasks to complete during the apprenticeship was developed for each turfgrass sector in cooperation with associations in the turfgrass industry and have been linked below. The student’s field supervisor (superintendent, grounds manager, etc.) will sign off on each assigned task once they have deemed the apprentice proficient at the task. Students who complete the assigned tasks will be ready to assume a position as an assistant superintendent in the golf course industry or an equivalent position in the sports turf, lawn care, or sod industry.

Golf Apprenticeship Task Booklet

Lawn Care Apprenticeship Task Booklet

Sod Production Apprenticehsip Task Booklet

How to enroll in the TAP

The Turfgrass Apprenticeship Program website is currently being updated. We anticipate the website will once again be running and accepting enrollment for the 2024-2025 TAP program by approximately April 1st.

Deadline for enrollment in the fall term is October 15th.

If you have any questions about the UW-Madison TAP please contact Doug Soldat or Paul Koch.

Paul Koch, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Plant Pathology
Doug Soldat, PhD
Department of Soil Science
+Four-Year Degree

Apply Now

Why pursue a four-year degree? The answer to this question lies in the broad-based, highly-respected education that a four-year degree offers. Many two-year schools offer excellent technical training in turf and grounds management. However, they lack the additional two years of education that provide a well rounded education. Four-year college students first receive a strong background in the social, mathematical, communication, physical and biological sciences. This is the foundation which students use to progress to advanced courses related to turfgrass management.Since the four-year degree is so widely recognized, the graduate has a variety of options for employment, increased flexibility to change careers or to pursue advanced degrees and further expand employment opportunities. Four years of college education provides even footing with other professionals in our society. Golf course superintendents who wish to become certified by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) are required to have four years of college education.

+Graduate Education (Master's and Doctorate)

Research assistantships are available to qualified students. These assistantships offer financial support while students pursue their degree. Funding for the assistantships is provided by organizations such as the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association, the United States Golf Association and the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research Foundation.The UW Turfgrass program is currently working to establish graduate fellowships in the five departments that make up the Turfgrass Program. In the summer of 2000 the first fellowship was dedicated to Dr. Wayne Kussow at Summer Field Day. Contact Dr. Soldat or Dr. Koch to see if graduate education is right for you.