I got a nice surprise in the mail recently: a book, but not just any book.

I’m saving a special place on my bookshelf for Turfgrass History and Literature: Lawns, Sports and Golf – but not until I’ve had an opportunity to read it more thoroughly. This might be a while. This 650-page book shares the story of turfgrass in North America, from its arrival from other lands until now. It also details the people and the many innovations (equipment, chemicals and the grasses themselves) responsible for today’s golf courses, sports fields and lawns.

Turfgrass History and Literature: Lawns, Sports and Golf results from the incredible amount of research by its authors James B. Beard, Harriet Beard and James C. Beard. James B. Beard, the lead author, is the president and chief scientist at the International Sports Turf Institute in College Station, Texas. His 1972 book Turfgrass: Culture and Science remains a mainstay in turfgrass programs across the United States. Beard’s career in turfgrass science spans more than 50 years. As a researcher, educator, innovator and mentor, Beard’s positive impact on the turfgrass industry is so large it is difficult to calculate.

Listed co-authors for the book are Harriet J. Beard, his wife of 58 years, who has typed all of his books and manuscripts, and golf professional James C. Beard, a life member of the PGA of American and a part-time photographer.

They describe their book as "an extensive historical record encompassing principles, cultural practices, grasses, materials and equipment that have been developed over the course of 300 years by turfgrass scientists, private companies, professional turfgrass managers and amateur practitioners."

Turfgrass History and Literature: Lawns, Sports and Golf also offers selected quotes and unique original photographs depict early activities, equipment and conditions and their evolution in the turfgrass field, which I found fascinating.

The books, proceedings and reports cited in this text are drawn primarily from the comprehensive James B. Beard Turfgrass Collection donated to the Michigan State University Turfgrass Information Center in 2003. The holdings at this library represent the most extensive collection of turfgrass-related publications available today.

Turfgrass History and Literature: Lawns, Sports, and Golf is available from Michigan State University Press and is available for sale through the website www.msupress.msu.edu and at fine bookstores.

P.S.: Many thanks to the Michigan State University Press for gifting me a copy of this fascinating book.