Auburn University student Matt Golson spent his summer caring for a field where legends trod.
Through Auburn University’s turf management program, Golson interned at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a place considered hallowed ground for professional football.
“It’s still an art, but sports turf management is becoming more scientific,” Golson said. “We aren’t just lawn service guys who are throwing some fertilizer and keeping the field mowed and watered. Our No. 1 priority is for the field to be safe for players. After that, you want it to be a sound and playable surface. When we see these fields on TV we want them to be perfect and manicured.”
Golson applied knowledge from his coursework while working on the famous field. This fall, he began his senior year at Auburn and received a $1,750 scholarship from the Autauga County Farmers Federation.
Packers Fields Manager Allen Johnson said the team accepts one intern a year, adding that Golson stood out from the very beginning.
“Matt asked a ton of questions in the interview,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone ask so many questions. He came across in the interview and on paper as very bright, intelligent and mature, and that all rang true when he got up here. My goal was that he came out of the experience learning something he didn’t know previously.”
Johnson achieved his goal and then some, according to Golson.
“Lambeau is unique from other American sports fields because it has natural grass growing in synthetic fibers stitched into the soil,” Golson said. “The team plays on Kentucky bluegrass, which is so slow growing, it requires that technology to hold up to the wear and tear.”
Apart from the Denver Broncos, Green Bay is the only team to use stitch-fiber technology in the U.S.
Golson said he specifically wanted to work with cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass because the only time he saw it was in class growing in a container.
“Working there will allow me to stand out, and I think it will help me have a more holistic approach to managing turf and a well-rounded approach to managing a field,” Golson said. “This hasn’t been a very hands-off experience. I’ve heard stories about interns who don’t get to do a whole lot, but there’s nothing they didn’t let me do.”
Boasting 100 percent placement after six months, Auburn’s turf management program was a no-brainer, Golson said.
“There’s plenty of academic rigor,” Golson said of the university’s program. “It has a good academic environment, which was always stressed in our household. Everyone I know who has been through the program has a job in turf management or something closely related to it. To me, that’s comforting to know.”