Michigan State University

Turfgrass Collection Development Statement

Analysis of the Subject Field

Our collecting emphasis is on all aspects of historical and current research and management practices in turfgrass culture. ‘Turfgrass’ in this context is understood to mean grass or grass-like ground covers used in golf courses, parks, sports fields, lawns, sod farms, roadsides, airfields, cemeteries, institutional grounds, and for other utility, recreational, amenity, or aesthetic purposes. It can and does extend to the use of non-living components and surfaces to meet the same management objectives.


We seek in-scope items from any time period. Most materials published prior to 1900 are housed within Special Collections.


Due to a variety of factors, including limited staff language expertise and material availability, English language items are the best represented materials currently in the collections. However, our collecting scope is language-independent, meaning we try and acquire materials in any language, including translations and even pirate editions.


While the largest geographical areas covered by the collection are the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom, all locations are collected. We actively seek materials from under-collected and under-represented areas within the discipline, including Africa and the Middle East.


All available formats are collected. The availability of electronic materials is closely tracked via the TGIF database at the item level or article level (for serials), so even if we do not hold a print copy of a resource, that resource will be described within TGIF. The TGIF database is intended to be an exhaustive index to the literature, regardless of availability.

Archival materials and manuscript collections may be acquired on a case by case basis.

Digital content, with corresponding hosting permissions, are aggressively collected for addition to our suite of digital assets (see: https://tic.msu.edu/browse). Digital collection development is critical, as our user community far broader than just the local MSU user base. For example, it may occasionally be important to try and acquire digital-load permissions for some materials already licensed to MSU users via commercial channels, because most TGIF users cannot utilize that access (for example, turf-related theses and dissertations loaded within ProQuest and not publicly-available).

Special material type considerations

Club Histories” are one-time volumes written to celebrate anniversaries (sometimes 25, 50, 75, and, most importantly, 100 years) of golf and country clubs (and thus, often also with the golf course(s) with which the organization is associated).  With limited print runs, and often limited holdings even within local public libraries, these works often include unique chapters on course-specific golf course architecture, the physical evolution of the course through time, and golf course maintenance practices.  Because of the explosion of golf courses opened between 1895 and 1930, we are currently in the peak window of the production and availability of these items. 

We generally do not buy these items unless they are: 1) associated with a) Michigan courses or b) African courses,  2) annotated as being ‘architecturally significant’ to the discipline as a whole (independent of the specific course in question) by Cornish & Hurdzan (2005),  3) involve architects or golf courses with whom we have special interests (eg. the Matthews family), 4) are post-2005 and are deemed ‘architecturally significant’ using a criteria similar to that of Cornish & Hurdzan, or 5) are actually a Course History (which see below). 

If within scope, normally most purchase acquisitions are of used copies, since there is typically not a commercial distribution of these items.  Often these are produced as ‘member-only benefits’, with very limited print runs.  They often do not have ISBNs associated with the item itself.  Catalogs are the primary source to acquire these items.

We do receive gifts of these items, if unheld, for addition to the collection and processing within TGIF.  They are also very good candidates for donation solicitation; from golfers/members, course superintendents, collectors, the club itself, or from specialized publishers that target this (very distributed) market (much as high-school yearbook publishers do – some, in fact, work both those markets).

There are 2 strong ‘public’ collections of record for these materials in North America, 1) the United States Golf Association (USGA) Library in Far Hills, New Jersey, and 2) The LA84 Foundation Sports Library in Los Angeles, California.  USGA holds over 6,000 of these items, focusing on North American Clubs; is not on OCLC but does have an online catalog.  LA84 is on OCLC and also has on online catalog. 

These items are also heavily collected by private golfiana collectors, and there are lists produced by such collectors (which are likewise collectable and are ridiculously priced, accordingly).  In addition, Donovan & Jerris (2006) have identified many of these titles, and they tag them as ‘Club history”, as do we in the WHATS field within TGIF.

These items are also of significance because they bridge interests across turfgrass, golf course design, club & hospitality management, local history, and the game of golf – and are also of popular/public interest, and thus donor relations.  Also, consequently and incidentally, they don’t cluster very well in classification – so they show up in any number of places.  We don’t particularly care about classification issues with these materials.

Club histories are normally cataloged for location tf.  

CAUTIONS:  Not to be confused, in general,  with Golf Club ‘Handbooks’, often similarly titled and described bibliographically, and which we do not normally buy at all, but do accept on donation; likewise for club annuals, yearbooks, membership materials, or promotional brochures.  Normally any such materials received are filed in TIC Vertical – Yardage Guides (ie. Alphabetic by course).

Also not to be confused with Yardage Guides and Scorecards (which see).

Course Histories” are far less common than Club histories, and are also contain more content of relevance for turf.  They focus specifically on the golf course as an asset rather than the club itself.  In the UK (and other locations within the Commonwealth, in particular), since the evolution of ‘public’ courses often proceeds independently of the clubs that may use them (eg. as at St. Andrews), this split perception and reporting is more common.  We do acquire all available Course Histories.

Tournament Programs are event-specific, but often annual, volumes produced by a sponsoring organization which usually include content relating to hosting-course design, evolution, history, and current course presentation, circulation, and playability.  Tournament programs are normally accepted on donation only, and are currently Vertical filed within TIC.  At least one is cataloged as a monographic series (the U.S. Open Annuals).  Other random (or particularly valuable; see, for example: http://catalog.lib.msu.edu/record=b9371096)   Tournament Programs have been cat.- sepped.

Yardage Guides are golf course-specific booklets, usually designed for pocket use, which provide hole-by-hole maps, including features and distances, and, sometimes circulation.  Yardage Guides are normally received by donation only, and are filed alphabetically by course in TIC Vertical – Yardage Guides.   Scorecards are single sheet, often folding, lists of holes listing par and yardage, and sometimes thumbnail hole diagrams, with blanks for scorekeeping.  Scorecards are less useful than Yardage Guides for archival purposes, but can be useful.  Scorecards are filed with Yardage Guides.  Yardage Guides & Scorecards are not cataloged and currently are not processed into TGIF.  We thus have no finding aid of any kind of these materials at present; though we may in fact already have one of the strongest academic library collections of this material type in the world.  While rarely collected by libraries, yardage guides and scorecards are aggressively collected by many golfers.

Turf-related and non-MSU Theses and Dissertations, in general, are not purchased for the collection at the present time.  There may be some rare exceptions to this general policy.  We do accept all such donations, however, and perhaps more importantly, actively seek both donations of digital versions of turf-related theses and dissertations, as well as corresponding permission to load and host the digital version of same (whether scanned or born-digital) (See: http://tic.lib.msu.edu/copyrightpermissions.html).

Given the importance of visual imagery within turf culture, image collections are of significance to almost all user communities, and have been a recognized part of the Noer Collection since the initial donation in the 1960s.  Many years later, the arrival in 2000 of the bulk of the Noer/Milorganite® Division MMSD Image Collection provided a challenging initial focus, given the 27,000 or so images within it, in a variety of formats.  The future of image management within the Collections is uncertain and complex.  Prototyping of digital archives of visual material began with some content presented within the ASGCA Architect’s Gallery (see: http://golfarchitects.lib.msu.edu/) and continues with the still-under-construction but now publicly-launched ‘Noer Slides’ materials website (see: http://noermmsd.lib.msu.edu/about.htm).  Recent donations (eg. Grau, Cockerham, Watson, etc.) have tremendously strengthened our holdings of turfgrass-related images.  Thus, held turf-related original images of all kinds will remain largely an enigma; awaiting time, interest, and/or funding to assist with their further processing.  There are preservation needs associated with some of this material – much of which will presumably eventually be located within Special Collections.