PUYALLUP, Wash. — The Washington State University turfgrass research farm in Puyallup was renamed the R.L. Goss Turfgrass Research Farm in ceremonies held at the farm. Roy L. Goss is a pioneer in turfgrass research and many of his innovations are still used in golf courses, playfields, parks and landscaping throughout the country.
“I’m pleased for this honor,” the octogenarian Goss told some 200 people gathered for the dedication. “This honor is usually reserved for people who are already under the turf. I checked the obits this morning and I’m not there, so this really is quite an honor.”
Goss began his career in 1958 in the newly created position of turfgrass researcher and extension agent at WSU’s Western Washington Research Station in Puyallup. At the time his was one of only two turf research programs west of the Mississippi.
Goss’s research found that by managing fertilizer applications for all types of turf, including those used for sports fields and golf putting greens, diseases and fungi could be effectively minimized, thus reducing applications of fungicides and other treatments.
Goss also instituted the use of sand as the base for sports fields and putting greens to improve drainage and reduce damage from heavy use, significantly improving durability and reducing maintenance. His approach is the standard still used today.
State taxpayers have also benefitted from Goss’s research. He found that planting deep-rooted fescue grass on slopes with minimal topsoil could control erosion, giving the state Department of Transportation a new approach to establishing vegetation on rocky banks along state highways. The approach has saved taxpayers millions of dollars over the years.
After his retirement from WSU in 1988, Goss and his wife Marcie continued to support WSU’s turfgrass research by creating the Roy L. Goss Turfgrass Endowment, which provides scholarships for students majoring in turfgrass management.
A new generation of turfgrass researchers continues to build on his legacy at the research farm. The six-acre farm includes trial plots on new turfgrass varieties, including twenty thousand square feet of sand-based sports turf and thirty thousand square feet of putting green turf.
The dedication ceremony preceded a turfgrass field day at the farm where researchers from WSU and Oregon State University shared their latest research results. The WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center and the Western Washington Golf Course Superintendent’s Association sponsored the field day.
Roy and Marcie Goss live in Okanogan, in a home overlooking a golf course.
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