Northern District History

    At Michigan State University in the late 1960's, Dr. James Beard decided to compare turfgrass management being studied on the heavier soils in downstate Michigan with turfgrass management on the sandier soils of Northern Michigan. Dr. Beard's research in the north began by establishing test plots at the Traverse City Country Club. As Dr. Beard began to accumulate results from those- test plots, he organized a field day at the Traverse City Country Club in addition to the annual field day at Michigan State University in order to share his research in Northern Michigan. News of the Northern Michigan Field day spread rapidly and generated a great deal of interest among Northern Michigan Superintendents and golf course owners. To view the letter from Dr. Beard on some of the history of the Northern Field Day you can click here.

    Instrumental in initiating this pioneer educational event in Northern Michigan was Mike Thomas, the cooperative extension agent for Leelanau County. Thomas had received a degree in turfgrass management while studying under Dr. Beard, worked as a chemical distributor, and regularly attended meetings of the Michigan Border Cities and Western Michigan Superintendent groups. As part of his extension work, he was asked to promote turfgrass education, and realizing that Superintendent's groups focus their efforts on education, Thomas worked to organize such a group in Northern Michigan. Thomas contacted other Northern Michigan Cooperative Extension Agents, he met two Northern Michigan Superintendents – Frank Heminger and Ed Karcheski – and he contacted his friend Tuck Tate to help organize the group. The idea of the Northern Michigan Turf Managers Association circulated throughout Northern Michigan with these individual's efforts. Ken Ferguson, a turfgrass equipment dealer in Traverse City, supplied them with his business mailing list, and everyone on that list was informed about the first organizational meeting of the NMTMA.

    The first meeting of the organization was held in August of 1971 at Interlochen Golf Club in Interlochen, Michigan. At this meeting the first officers of the NMTMA were elected by the thirty-two charter members present. Ed Karcheski was elected president, Tuck Tate vice-president, and Frank Heminger secretary-treasurer. The membership present decided that the association. would establish by-laws, set up meeting locations, and recruit more members. And thus the NMTMA was born. There were two more meetings in 1971, and in 1972 the Association became more prominent and seriously began its tradition of education for its members. The O.M. Scott company of Marysville, Ohio sponsored and helped coordinate one of their own professional seminars for the Northern Michigan Turf Managers Association. Dr. Beard spoke at another meeting jointly attended with the Western Michigan Association. The field day at the Traverse City Country Club also continued. to draw turfgrass managers from all around the state. And at the September 19th, 1972 meeting at the. Redwood Golf Club near Houghton lake, the Association voted to become affiliated with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. 


    Mr. C.E. Tuck Tate, founding member of the NMTMA second person from the left

    During the first two years of the association, Tuck Tate coordinated communication to the members with a monthly newsletter. Tate continued editing, publishing, and mailing the monthly newsletter of the Northern Michigan Turf Managers Association for eighteen years, until the format was changed in 1990. Tate continued to support the newsletter as an assistant editor from that time. The Association's annual membership directory was initiated in 1973 containing the Associations' constitution and by-laws, and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all members. In 1979, the NMTMA held its first Michigan Turfgrass Foundation Benefit Day at the Cadillac Country Club. The annual MTF fundraiser continues to be one of the most popular events of the season, drawing golfers statewide. Through its fundraising efforts the NMTMA supports research, extension work, and scholarships which benefit the turfgrass management industry throughout the region. And in 1985 the Association ini- tiated its first annual NMTMA scholarship for students in the MSU two-year turfgrass management program. As the Association continued to grow, the membership exceeded two hundred in number. and revenues from dues, publication advertising, and fundraising exceeded fifty thousand dollars per year.


    In 1990, under the direction of President Jeffery Holmes, the board of directors with the vote of the membership decided to make the Association a non-profit corporation. In 1991 they, with the aid of an attorney and an accountant, filed the necessary forms with the State of Michigan and the Internal Revenue Service to incorporate the Association and make its finances tax exempt. The Northern Michigan Turf Managers Association continues to this day to serve its membership with educational meetings, golfing events, and the support of research and scholarship. The NMTMA continues to work closely with businesses in the industry who, in turn, support the Association with educational programs and funding. The NMTMA continues also to work with extension agents who bring their services and link to Michigan State University to Northern Michigan. With an established tradition of education, and an undying spirit of cooperation, the NMTMA continues to promote the best in turfgrass management practices and the utmost in professionalism.

    Dr. James B. Beard’s Field Day History Letter

    All Corporate Entity Documents

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    NMTMA Articles of Incorporation

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