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Golf Group Honors Prof for Efforts to Support Industry

Fred Yelverton is known for getting into the weeds — literally — to help the nation's golf industry thrive. His efforts were recognized at an industry trade event this week.

Fred Yelverton accepting an award on stage at a trade association event in Orlando, Florida.
Fred Yelverton accepts the GCSAA's 2023 Outstanding Contribution Award from presenter Lauren Thompson for his ongoing efforts to educate, advise and assist superintendents in the golf course industry.

One of the reasons NC State has one of the nation’s top turfgrass science programs is the long-standing service of turfgrass weed professor Fred Yelverton.

A three-time NC State graduate, with an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology and a master’s and Ph.D. in weed science, Yelverton has been affiliated with NC State since transferring as a student from East Carolina University in the early 1980s.

Since 1995, after stints as a county extension agent and an extension specialist, the native of Wilson has been a turfgrass weed scientist in the crop and soil sciences department in NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, maintaining active research in weed biology and the ecology of turfgrass weeds and teaching multiple classes each semester on weed management.

Yelverton’s primary focus through the years has been developing weed-management solutions for North Carolina’s golf active industry, which includes some 520 public, private and resort courses across the state, many of which are cared for by the hundreds of golf superintendents who earned turfgrass, crop science and professional golf management degrees at NC State. A 2021 State of North Carolina study estimated golf supports 53,000 jobs while creating $2.3 billion in direct spending and $4.3 billion in total economic impact.

“The reality is that most golf courses are really just small businesses of 30 or 40 or 50 employees who are trying to meet a budget,” Yelverton says. “We go all over the state, country and world to help them solve problems that might prevent that.

“I can’t begin to explain how much fun my job is.”

For nearly three decades, Yelverton has been the co-teacher of seminars in advanced weed management and weed control at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America annual trade show with Clemson crop science professor Bert McCarty.

This week, at its annual international trade show in Orlando, the GCSAA presented Yelverton with its 2023 Outstanding Contribution Award for his ongoing efforts to educate, advise and assist superintendents in the golf course industry.

“I’ve had a long history with the organization and I believe our seminar is the longest-running one the GCSAA has had since we began in 1995,” Yelverton says. “I’ve always tried to be active and supportive of the organization, and I appreciate this recognition for the service Dr. McCarty and I have given through the years.”