Site of US Open at Bethpage is reducing pesticide use

BETHPAGE, N.Y. -- Forget the sand traps and the water hazards. The real battle on Long Island's Bethpage State Park golf course, the site of this year's U.S. Open June 13-16, is making the putting greens free from fungal diseases, cutworms and weevils ---- and safe from the pesticides used to combat them.

Turf scientists at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and the Bethpage greenskeepers have been looking for ways to substantially reduce pesticide use on one of the nation's busiest public golf-course complexes.

Using techniques known as integrated pest management, insecticide use was reduced by 50 percent on the Bethpage Green golf course in 2001. Herbicide use was reduced by 33, percent and fungicide use was cut by about 30 percent, according to the first year's (2001) report of a three-year study conducted by Jennifer A. Grant, Cornell pest management specialist, and Frank S. Rossi, Cornell assistant professor of horticulture. Bethpage Green is one of the five courses at the state park. The U.S. Open is being played on Bethpage Black course, considered one of the toughest in the country.

"Because of changes in the laws, we won't have many of the pesticides available to use in the future, so we're trying to invent new ways, new tools to manage the older golf course. We're taking a management systems approach," says Rossi. "Instead of looking for a silver bullet, we're changing the management system."

This research project accords with the late New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses' vision for the Bethpage State Park. "Whether it's holding the U.S. Open or conducting research on the park's Green course, he envisioned Bethpage as the leader on how you should be doing things," says Rossi.

The Bethpage Green course hosts more than 55,000 rounds of golf annually and was an original component of the state park when it opened in the 1930s. The putting greens are constructed of a native loamy soil, which is typical of

Contact: Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.
Cornell University News Service

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