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MSU Turfgrass Expert Named to Michigan Golf Hall of Fame

  • Author:
    Holly Whetstone
  • Published:
    Summer 2016
Michigan State University plant pathologist Joseph M. Vargas has been inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, not for his golf prowess, but for his turfgrass research, which is advancing the industry.
Throughout his 48-year career, Vargas has authored more than 200 articles on turfgrass disease and has written a leading textbook on turfgrass management. 
He works in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He’s been instrumental in discovering a variety of turfgrass pests and has discovered the causes of some turfgrass diseases.  
“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 released a new cultivar called Flagstick, which has shown resistance in field trials to a fungus that affects golf courses around the country.   
The fungus is known as dollar spot because it kills turfgrass in round patches  roughly the size of silver dollars.
“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,” LaFontaine said.