North Carolina Turfgrass – Julie Holt, Content Director, TheTurfZone.com
Ray McCauley has a long and impressive career in the turfgrass industry. He has placed great importance on continuing to grow in his knowledge, both through education and experience. It is no secret that classroom learning and hands-on experience are a powerful combination, and Ray has certainly walked the walk on both counts.
Ray began his turfgrass career in 2001, when he started at Clemson University as a Turfgrass Management major. During his time as an undergraduate at Clemson, he completed summer internships each year, which included a variety of locations and disciplines (Mid Pines and Pine Needles Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina; Sankaty Head Golf Club in Siasconset, Massachusetts; San Diego Padres). Ray also spent six months preparing for an Open Championship at St. Andrews Links Trust in Scotland as a seasonal greenskeeper. He began his work as an undergraduate assistant at Clemson during this time as well.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Ray began work on his M.S. in Plant and Environmental Sciences with a minor in Experimental Statistics. While earning this degree, he worked as a graduate assistant, which included a variety of tasks – from instruction in the advanced turfgrass management lab to field and greenhouse trials to working with cooperative extension.
After finishing his Master’s, Ray began his role as Assistant Groundskeeper for the New York Mets. During his time there, he worked to prepare the field for both the MLB 2013 All Star game and the 2015 World Series.
Ray is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Crop and Soil Sciences at North Carolina State University. He is working under Dr. Grady Miller and is conducting research primarily on fraise mowing and how it affects physical soil properties. He is devising programs that expedite bermudagrass recovery and the potential to expand fraise mowing applications. Ray has assisted in 20+ additional studies that have had both local and national impacts. Some of these projects include: how to improve zoysiagrass roadside establishment for NCDOT; colored topdressing sands’ impact on bermudagrass maintenance and establishment for the Carolinas’ GCSA; and species evaluations for both the NTEP Program and the USDA’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative.
Through all aspects of Ray’s education and career, he has always understood the importance of education, and that will be a focus for his career going forward. “I enjoy giving back by sharing my knowledge with others,” he says. “Whether to a dozen undergraduates in a turfgrass management lab or to hundreds of attendees at the Lake Wheeler Turf Field Day, I enjoy sharing my knowledge, experiences and research with others. I intend to do so in a research and teaching role in the future.”
Ray has demonstrated his commitment to the turfgrass industry, the research that supports it and the professionals who advance it. His experience in many facets of turfgrass management will surely be a great benefit to his colleagues and students. The Turfgrass Council of North Carolina thanks Ray for his service to the advancement of the industry across the state.READ THE ISSUE