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Course Setup - STEM Lesson Plan (Grades 4-12)

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This document is a companion piece to video titled Course Setup and is intended as a resource for educators.

Background and Planning Information

About the Video

For the first time in golf history the 2014 U.S. Men's Open and U.S. Women’s Open will be played at the same course: Pinehurst No. 2. Science of Golf (SOG): Course Setup examines how Pinehurst No. 2 will be set up to offer the most complete challenge to both the best men and women golfers in the world. Mike Davis, Executive Director, United States Golf Association (USGA), explains how the golf course will be set up so that men and women golfers will play the same iron shots into the same greens. Jeff Hall, Rules & Competitions, USGA, discusses how Pinehurst No. 2 will be set up “firm and fast” to make it a complete examination of both men and women golfers' abilities. The video explores how this is done.

0:00 0:15

Series opening

0:16 0:36

Pinehurst No. 2—Host to the 2014 men and women’s U.S. Open Championships

0:37 0:53

Mike Davis on why Pinehurst No. 2 is right for both championships

0:54 1:24

Pinehurst No. 2’s special “firm and fast” set up

1:25 1:38

Importance of firm and fast greens

1:39 2:18

How to measure the firmness of a putting green

2:19 2:42

How to measure speed or friction of a putting green

2:43 4:50

How science and math help select pin positions on putting greens

4:51 5:14

Pinehurst No. 2

5:15 5:32


5:33 5:48

Closing credits

Language Support

To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, click the Transcript tab on the right side of the video window, then copy and paste the text into a document for student reference.

Standards Connections for NGSS and Common Core ELA

Connected standards are listed in full on the last page of this document.

Promote STEM with Video

Connect to Science

Science concepts described in SOG: Course Setup center around agronomy, ecology, plant physiology, and soil science. Because of the special stresses and conditions that the game of golf subjects turfgrass to, golf course superintendents rely on science and technology to maintain the firm and fast setup required by championship golf. Firm greens depend on the moisture content of the green, which is measured with data from USGA's TruFirm device. Turfgrass has to be cut short, to around 0.125 inch, which can require that it’s cut as many as seven times each week during the summer. Shorter grass allows for faster greens. Ecology, a branch of biology that focuses on the interactions between organisms and the environment, came into play when much of 35 acres of Bermuda rough at Pinehurst No. 2 was returned to local habitat (in 2011) that featured native North Carolina grasses and other natural species.

(page 1)

Related Science Concepts

  • agronomy

  • ecology

  • friction

  • length

  • measurement

  • plant physiology

  • soil science

  • turfgrass firmness

  • turfgrass speed

  • water consumption

  • water requirements

Take Action with Students

  • Use reports from USGA-sponsored research to show students how native plants will increasingly be used on golf courses in the future. One cleverly begins with, "if a weed is defined as a plant out of place, then a native plant should be defined as one in its place." You can find the reports at In its introduction the USGA states that, "the following is a case history of native plant establishment on a golf course in the Missouri area, but it could be adapted to fit any region." The implication is that native plants might help to relieve many of the environmental concerns presented by golf courses. Students might browse through the report to find ideas that particularly interest them. They could then create a design plan that would use native plants to meet the needs of a local golf course. Students should give attention to identifying the benefits of planting native species.

  • Review plant adaptations with students. Focus on how adaptations allow plants to survive and thrive in the specific areas in which they are found. Students might identify and examine native plants found in their local area. Students might then create a Benefits of Local Plants brochure that offers local plants to the local golf course superintendent that will help meet specific needs of the golf course while also benefiting the local environment.

Connect to Technology

SOG: Course Setup highlights technology used to maintain firm and fast championship conditions on Pinehurst No. 2. Using technology to determine how firm each green of the golf course is allows the golf course superintendent to apply just the right amount of water to keep all greens at the desired firmness. The Stimpmeter determines the speed of each of the 18 greens on any given golf course so that the grass on each of them can be rolled and cut to a height that will keep the ball rolling at an appropriate speed.

Take Action with Students

  • Show SOG: Course Setup 1:38–2:18. The clip demonstrates the USGA's own TruFirm. Online catalogs sell this device for $750 to $900. A rival device is called the Clegg Impact Soil Tester and it retails for $3925. Both devices determine the firmness of putting greens in a similar fashion. Perhaps a simpler solution that would do an equally good job at determining the firmness of a putting green might be invented? Students might generate a list of the data that would have to be acquired to adequately identify the firmness of a given putting surface and then suggest simple/cheaper solutions that will get the job done.

  • Consider using ideas from the video and lesson plans for SOG: Kinematics, which features the Stimpmeter.

(page 2)

  • A rapidly evolving technology that is used in many sports is artificial turf. Use of artificial grass for landscaping around the home and in recreation areas is increasing by 10 to 15% per year in the United States. Artificial grass has a big cost upfront—$5–$20 per square foot. Arriving at and maintaining fast putting surfaces is a priority for all professional golf tournaments. Is it possible that putting surfaces in the future might be covered in artificial grass instead of turf grass? (What about courses in arid regions?) Students might research to learn how artificial grass offers solutions in other sports. Students could then identify the pros and cons of using artificial turf on putting greens or elsewhere on the course. Explorations should include cost, drainage, green speed, wear and tear, and user satisfaction. Students might generate a proposal, with supporting calculations, that would make recommendations regarding the use of artificial turf on golf courses. (What if both pro men and women were playing on the same course? How would that affect placement of the turf?)

Connect to Engineering

The engineering design process uses human ingenuity to draw from science, math, and technology to solve a problem. In the case of SOG: Course Setup, the problem was how to use golf course irrigation to keep putting greens firm and fast. Scientists and managers use technology and their understanding of how plants use water and how water moves around in the environment to design irrigation systems that supply water to keep the greens and center of most of the fairways in championship condition while limiting the moisture received in native areas to that supplied by nature.

Take Action with Students

  • Provide access to: Students should read all three sections: General, Teeing Grounds, and Hole Positions. Provide students with actual score cards to several different golf courses, available at the local pro shop or online. Those that offer hole-by-hole maps and green information along with course data will be more useful. The Royal and Ancient (R&A; the international corollary of the USGA) offers several ideas in their short section on Golf Course Setup. Have students pick a scorecard and follow the R&A suggestions for setup.

  • Show SOG: Course Setup 4:50–4:53, which gives a brief glimpse of Pinehurst No. 2's new look. That new look is derived from the common-sense observations of the course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw whose job it was to reinstate original designer Donald Ross's vision for Pinehurst No. 2. Share the-future, which relates how Coore and Chrenshaw are taking irrigation back to the future. Students could read the blog and examine and explain the implications of Coore and Chrenshaw's thinking for the future of golf. Students might also put forth a logical argument supported with cost data that most golf courses could benefit from a reduction in the number of sprinkler heads used at their course, similar to what was achieved at Pinehurst No. 2.

(page 3)

Connect to Math

In SOG: Course Setup highlights math in three areas. The TruFirm device measures putting green firmness. It is a device that drops a hammer from a set height on the putting surface and makes an impression (similar to a ball mark left by an approach shot) on the green. The depth of the depression, measured in inches, indicates how firm each green is. The Stimpmeter rolls a golf ball, at a given speed, down an inclined plane that is 21 ̊ to the horizontal to indicate the speed of the putting surface. The average distance of three balls rolled over a flat area of a putting green gives the green speed.

Take Action with Students

  • The hammers in the TruFirm and the Clegg Impact Soil Testers replicate the force with which an approach golf shot (hitting the golf ball from the fairway to the surface of the green—the second shot on par 4s and the second or third shot on par 5s) impacts the green. If a green is somewhat soft, the golf ball’s impact on it as it falls from the sky will leave a depression known as a ball mark. Ball marks vary based on the length of the club with which the approach shot is hit because that affects the angle at which the green is struck. However, the golf ball reaches about the same height—about 30 yards—with all clubs. Students might determine the average force with which an approach shot hits the putting surface and come up with a low-tech design with which to apply that force to a golf ball to determine the firmness of a green. Have the class vote on the most innovative, lowest tech design.

  • Native plant communities within your area are adapted to your area's climate. Identify five native species that are easily observed. Use math to determine their population density in the natural area. Then compare that density with the population density of those species at the local golf course.


Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the research-based science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 16.

Explore Understanding

Guide a discussion to find out what students know about use of native plants to lower water usage and soil conditions required to keep putting greens firm while still growing grass that allows golf balls to roll fast. Use resources such as the following:

(page 4)

After opening the discussion you might move groups of students to the four corners of the room. In each corner, groups will discuss firm and fast greens (or an aspect of use of native plants) that you’ve assigned to each corner to activate their background knowledge. Four corners can be highly engaging for students and only requires 5 to 10 minutes. Use the following or similar prompts to start students talking.

  • One experience I have had with native plants is....

  • Golfers are able to stop their shots into firm and fast greens by....

  • I have experienced firm grass when....

  • One way I have seen a grass surface become faster is....

  • One way I think I could change a putting surface to become more firm (less receptive) to approach shots is....

  • The idea of a firm and fast surface relates to other sports such as....

  • Ideas to make a putting green faster include....

  • Things that affect the firmness and speed of a putting green include....

  • Sometimes firm fast greens make the short game more difficult, such as when....

  • Sometimes fast greens are unnecessary, such as when....

  • A putting green might be too fast if....

  • The problem with firm greens is....

  • The problem with fast greens is....

  • The engineer/scientist can help golfers by....

Show SOG: Course Setup and encourage students, as they watch, to take notes about how plants are key to golf course setup and expert recommendations. Continue the discussion of how a design team might improve a golf course’s setup to be fast and firm or how native plants can be used to alleviate some of the environment concerns raised by golf courses, using the following or similar prompts:

  • When I watched the video, I thought about....

  • The video describes....

  • We learned from the video that....

  • Something in the video that I connected to an event in my life was....

  • One problem that a fast and firm design team might try to solve is....

  • The experts in the video explained that fast and firm....

  • Variables hindering fast and firm golf course conditions include....

  • Constraints inherent in the game of golf include....

  • Our efforts might be limited by....

  • Engineering has improved firm and fast greens by....

(page 5)

Identify Problems

Stimulate small-group discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these problems.... Then have small groups list questions they have about improving the firm and fast conditions of a golf course or the use of native plants to improve the ecological footprint of golf courses. The rules of golf may or may not be strictly followed to meet the needs of this activity. Groups should be encouraged to always develop questions that will push their understanding of the agronomy of the golf course and may require print or online resources to supplement/deepen what they already know. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to reflect an engineering problem that is researchable and/or testable. Bring groups together to discuss/share problems. Remind students that engineering problems usually have multiple solutions. Some questions that reflect engineering design problems are:

  • What factors can be changed that might improve how firm or fast a putting green is?

  • How do the rules of golf limit changes that can be made to the agronomy of a golf course?

  • Would increasing/reducing the sand content of the soil profile improve performance?

  • Is there an optimal way to achieve firm greens in all locations?

  • Can putting greens be too firm?

  • How could technology help to keep golf course conditions fast and firm?

  • How can we predict how our design change/improvements will work on the golf course?

  • How might the type of turf grass be maintained to optimize fast greens?

  • Is there a soil mixture best suited to maintaining the length of grass required for fast greens?

  • What types of growing conditions promote firm and fast?

  • Is there a synthetic material that could more efficiently provide firm and fast conditions?

Investigate Design Problems

Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials needed would vary greatly based on these factors as well.

Materials and the Inquiry Process

Allow time for students to examine, manipulate, and assess the materials that are available. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions or prompts new ones that should be recorded for future investigation.

  • To explore firm and fast: Students might use different types of soils, different soil mixtures, implements to compress or roll soil surfaces, different types of grass seed, fertilizer, tools to cut grass to the desired length, and grow lights if the activity is to be done indoors or if time is critical. Students would also need access to an actual putting green and some predetermined method to measure firmness.

  • To explore if native plants and areas can benefit golf courses: Students might do research to examine plants native to the area to learn their adaptations to the local environment and then native plants can be compared to plants used at local golf courses to weigh benefits and drawbacks. Students would need reference materials to determine the amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides required by native plants vs. plants/grasses introduced at the local golf course. If there are difficulties in learning about native plants in the local area students might consider doing research on plants native to Florida, Texas, or California. A lot of information is available that relates how Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw identified the plants that made up the native areas that were so key to their restoration of Pinehurst No. 2. Students might also examine Golf Course Property Restoration found at: Its author states that his purpose in writing it is to, “recommend ways of reducing the large areas of managed lawns on the landscape, reduce the effects of the herbicides and pesticides used, and reconnect as much as possible the natural hydrology and native vegetation of lowland wetlands and forests, urban forested areas, coastal wetlands and grass lands, and the mountain ecosystems.”

(page 6)

  • Measuring tools such as meter sticks, stopwatches, magnifying lenses, electronic balances, spring scales, smart phone video cameras, graduated cylinders, protractors, rulers or measuring tape, and calculators might also be useful in the design process. These devices will not be needed should students decide to conduct a research activity.

Safety Considerations

You and students should wear cover goggles as needed. Particular care should be given if students conduct investigations using fertilizers or pesticides. Review safe use of tools and measurement devices as needed. Augment your own safety procedures with NSTA’s Safety Portal at

Open Choice Approach(Copy Master page 16)

  1. Give students time to discuss their individual questions. Groups might agree on one problem for which they will design a solution, or each group might evaluate different problems and solutions. Some ideas include designing a firm putting green surface, creating a fast putting green surface, or investigating if native plants are more water/fertilizer/pesticide efficient could serve as models for this activity. To help students envision their investigations, use prompts such as the following:

    • The design problem we are solving is....

    • Materials we could use to implement our design are....

    • The science concepts involved in our design include....

    • The math concepts involved in our design include....

    • We are designing a solution that will....

    • Barriers to success that we anticipate are....

    • Acceptable evidence for a successful solution would include....

  2. Lead discussionsto establish the criteria and constraints within which solutions might be designed. Remind students that criteria are factors by which they can judge the success of their effort and that constraints are limitations to the effort and are often related to materials, time, or money.

    • We think we can solve the problem by....

    • Our criteria for success are....and we will determine them by....

    • Constraints that might limit potential solutions are....

  3. Have students determine the dependent variable they will use to evaluate their design. Check the students' understanding of each variable, such as grass type, soil/sand mixture/percentages, or water/fertilizer/pesticide consumption. Students should identify the other variables associated with the problem they are trying to solve and consider how they will measure or control all of the variables. Then have them determine what data/evidence they need to collect to evaluate the success of their design. Students should confirm that their designs address the science concepts behind the investigation.

  4. Students should brainstorm a plan for their evidence collection. Work with students to ensure that safe procedures are developed that control variables and enable students to make accurate measurements. Students must have your approval on their procedures before they start any investigation. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

    • Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is....

    • We will change the percent of sand in the soil mixture to....

    • We will test our prototype by....

    • We will make design decisions, or changes to the independent variable, such as type of grass seed used to observe what happens to the dependent variable.

    • The data we will collect are....

    • We will record and organize our data using....

    • We will measure our success by....

  5. Allow students to spend some time working with the materials with which they will implement their design. As students work with the materials, suggest that they reexamine their problem(s) and write down the procedures they intend to follow and how they will test their design and collect the data necessary to revise their design. Collecting evidence to promote future iterations and innovations is a critical step in the engineering design cycle. Guide students with prompts such as the following.

    • Information we need to understand before designing our firm green includes....

    • We will construct our prototype or model by....

    • While constructing our prototype or model we will....

    • To conduct our investigation safely, we will....

    • Thinking about future innovation we....

    • We will represent our data by....

    • Mathematical models we can use in our investigation include....

  6. Be sure to work with students to develop safe procedures that keep the variables not being tested as constant as possible, allowing students to make accurate measurements.

  7. After communicating information to the class about their solution and reflecting on their own solution, as well as those of other groups, allow the class or small groups to go through a redesign process to optimize their solutions and what they have learned. Encourage students to identify limitations of the design and testing process. Were there variables that they did not identify earlier that had an impact on their designs?

Focused Approach(Copy Master page 17)

The following exemplifies a way students might conduct research to identify solutions to SOG: Course Setup problems. Although the video gave only a brief glimpse of the changes Coore and Crenshaw made to Pinehurst No. 2 it was a major focus by Mike Davis of the USGA ( Give students leeway to determine if they are in favor of or against using native plants and areas to restore golf courses to be more like the local environment around them. (Developing designs that promote sustainable practices is a tenet in the engineering profession.) Of course, local resources permitting, students might actually use local native plants to conduct this investigation.

(page 7)

  1. Ask students questions such as the following to spark their thinking:

    • How can we identify native plants and grasses that will be useful on a golf course?

    • How can we identify the plants now being used on the golf course that can/need to be replaced?

    • How can we determine water/fertilizer/pesticide needs of native plants versus plants already in place at the golf course?

    • What impact might a change in landscaping to more native plants have on the perception golfers have of the way the golf course plays?

    • How much of the pleasure golfers derive from playing the course as it is landscaped now will be lost if a native plant restoration is completed?

    • How will we know that native plants can live up to the stress/demands that golf will place on them?

    • How difficult will it be for the course’s superintendent to be able to maintain native plants/areas?

    • What support will be available to integrate native plants/areas into the landscape of the golf course?

    • What are the constraints that might limit the use of native plants/areas?

    • How can we determine the viability and longevity of native plants?

    • How can we determine the geographical area from which native plants can be used in our local area?

  2. Divide students into groups based on their positions—yes, golf courses should be restored to a more native more ecologically friendly setup, or no, golf courses should be maintained in the more green, park-like setup that is overall more friendly to golfers. Groups should conduct research to support their stance. If, at some point, students change their stance because of what they’ve learned, allow them to do so. The following links include articles that argue both positions. They might be given to students as starters, or have them conduct the research on their own.

  3. Remind students to take detailed notes as they conduct their research. Provide students with copies of the rubric so that they can use it as a guide to conduct their research. Review how to safely browse the web, how to evaluate information on the Internet for accuracy, and how to correctly cite the information found.

  4. After communicating information to the class about their research and reflecting on the findings of other groups, allow the class or small groups to do further research to answer questions that may have been raised. Encourage students to identify limitations of the research plan that they followed.

(page 8)

Related Internet Resources

(page 9)

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

As students carry out their design investigations, ensure they record their observations and measurements. Students should analyze their observations in order to state one or more claims. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by... I claim... because.... or I claim our design (was/was not) successful because....

An example claim might be:
As evidenced by the shorter rebounds of golf balls dropped on our soil/sand mixture on which we’ve grown turf grass, we claim that our putting green surface was not as firm as we expected because balls dropped on the practice green at the local golf course bounced, on average, 10% higher.

Present and Compare Findings

Encourage students to prepare presentations that outline their inquiry investigations so they can compare results with others. Students might do a Gallery Walk through the presentations and write peer reviews, as would be done on published science and engineering findings. Students might also make comparisons with material they find on the Internet, information presented in the SOG: Course Setup, or an expert they chose to interview. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as:

  • My findings are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that....

  • My findings are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that....

  • My findings are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that....

Students might make comparisons like the following:
My results were similar to those discussed in the video in that the compacted soil/sand mixture in which we grew turfgrass could be rolled to be firmer than the regular soil/turfgrass sampled from the local golf course. Our sand/soil mix seemed to allow more water to stay at the root level because our grass was both firm and green.

Reflect and Redesign

Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t before. They should also evaluate their own designs in light of others’ presentations and propose changes that will optimize their designs while recognizing that there are multiple ways to solve any problem. Encourage reflection, using prompts such as the following:

  • My ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson because evidence showed that....

  • My design would be more effective if I _____ because I learned that....

  • It was important to....

  • When thinking about the claims made by the experts, I am confused about....

  • One concept I now understand (or understand better) or could teach someone....

(page 10)

Inquiry Assessment

See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page18.

Incorporate Video into Your Lesson Plan

Integrate Video in Instruction

Compare and Contrast

Show SOG: How the USGA Determines the Pace of Play and SOG: Course Setup. Have students compare and contrast the content and intended messages of both videos.
Things to Consider:

  1. What were the central ideas of each of the videos? How are these central ideas the same or different from each other? How are the purposes of each video similar or different?

  2. How might the concerns in setting a course up to be firm and fast impact the issues raised about pace of play?

  3. In what ways might an overall focus on pace of play dictate how a golf course is set up?

  4. At the start of SOG: How the USGA Determines Pace of Play, 2013 Walker Cup champion Patrick Rodgers says, "A normal round of golf takes four hours, maybe even more than that in competition." Do you think there is any focus on pace of play when the golf course is given over to a tournament instead of just regular play? How do competition and everyday play compare? If the focus is on pace of play is there an impact on quality of play?


In SOG: Course Setup John Jeffreys, Assistant Superintendent, Pinehurst No. 2, says, "The firmer a green is, the more difficult it is for golfers, and to test the best players in the world, the greens should be as firm as possible." The TruFirm is also introduced in the video. The TruFirm device costs about $750. Wouldn't it be fun to have a TruFirm to test the grass in your neighborhood? Have students plan and design a device to replicate the TruFirm. They will have to think of the things that the TruFirm keeps constant and plan accordingly. Students can make predictions about the firmness of turf in their neighborhood and use their devices to make actual observations. The firmness of their local turfs might also include the practice green at the local golf course.

Using the 5E Approach?

If you use a 5E approach to lesson plans, consider incorporating video in these Es:

  • Explore: Use the Design Investigations section of the Facilitate Inquiry to support your lessons on agronomy, ecology, plant physiology, or soil science. Main concepts should include how plants can be supported by science, technology, engineering, and math to survive and thrive under the special stresses and conditions that the game of golf subjects turfgrass to.

  • Elaborate: Show students SOG: Course Setup, focusing on the section 0:37–0:53 in which Mike Davis discusses what the USGA hoped to accomplish by having the 2014 U.S. Men's Open and U.S. Women’s Open played at Pinehurst No. 2 in consecutive weeks. Have students research the preparations for both events. Students can generate their own questions to elaborate on the benefits or shortcomings of holding both championships on a single course. Students might then answer the three questions they've generated that interest them the most. As an alternative, you might look at their list of questions and select the ones that you'd like them to answer.

(page 11)

Connect to ... Environmental Sciences

Show SOG: Course Setup 4:50–4:53. This quick segment shows how Pinehurst No. 2 looks after its recent restoration that reflects the ideas of its original designer. Share the Fact Sheet ( put out by Pinehurst to review these changes with students. You might also use the video at to let students see what was done to get Pinehurst No. 2 ready for both U.S. Open championships.

The segment from 2:00–3:38 relates closely to tenets of environmental science. Hartwick College ( science) defines Environmental Science as the "study of the interaction of the living and non-living components of the environment with special emphasis on the impact of humans on these components." The Hartwick site gives a quick overview of the goals of Environmental Science. Allow students to select a hole from Pinehurst No. 2 to examine the changes that have been made to it from an environmental scientist’s point of view. Allow them access to to get a detailed look at how their particular hole was revised. Students could make a drawing of the hole they selected and critique how the recent revisions made to it address the causes of and possible solutions to our current environmental problems. Students might also address how the design changes to Pinehurst No. 2 will connect to the future of golf course maintenance.

Connect to ... Economics

Jack Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940), nicknamed "The Golden Bear," is an American professional golfer. He is widely regarded as the most accomplished professional golfer of all time, winning a total of 18 career major championships, while producing 19 second place and 9 third place finishes in them, over a span of 25 years. He has said, "I've always thought Pinehurst No. 2 to be my favorite golf course from a design standpoint. I've enjoyed going out on No. 2 and seeing a totally tree-lined golf course without a tree coming into play. Donald J. Trump is an American businessman, investor, and golf impresario. Trump, who owns six golf courses in the United States, used Twitter during play of the 2014 Men's U.S. Open to tell his followers how little he thought of the Pinehurst No. 2 restoration. ( central-blog/trump-attacks-pinehurst-twitter/) Have students analyze the Twitter trail and then using their knowledge of economics, compare the data from the current U.S. Open with the previous Open that was held at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005. Students might consider spectator attendance, television broadcast agreements, television commercial revenue, overall television viewership, player testimonials, concession revenues, and any other data that might be found. Students might take a position with or against Trump and use economic data to support their claim. Students might also take a stance on the implications the design changes to Pinehurst No. 2 have for the future of golf.

(page 12)

Use Video as a Writing Prompt

Despite nearly a decade of effort by the golf industry to mitigate the sport's environmental impacts, golf courses remain as controversial as ever and the sport's soaring popularity has enlarged, not shrunk, its ecological footprint. Share these facts with students.

  • Golf is big business, contributing more than $49 billion a year to the economy, according to the National Golf Foundation.

  • During the past decade, there has been an explosion in new golf courses. The United States is now home to nearly 18,000 golf courses, more than half the world's 35,000 golf courses, according to the Worldwatch Institute, a think tank that monitors global environmental trends.

  • In the United States, golf courses cover more than 1.7 million acres and soak up nearly 4 billion gallons of water daily, the Institute estimates. They also use pesticides and fertilizers that contribute to water pollution. (

  • Some in England actually wonder if golf courses can be sustainable in light of the current environmental situation. (

Should the golf industry be concerned about the environment? Both the USGA and The Royal and Ancient (R&A) think so, and have information on their websites concerning the environmental impact of the sport.

Have students use these resources and their own resources plus information on what was accomplished at Pinehurst No. 2 to write a proposal to the local country club on how it can become a better steward of the local environment.

(page 13)


Science of Golf: Course Setup

Use this as a guide to design and test your solution according to criteria and constraints established by the class. Record all of your notes and observations in your science notebook.

Identify Problems

Our class discussion and the video make me think about problems such as....

Design Investigations

Choose your materials and brainstorm with your teammates to discuss how you will make and test your design solution. Take notes on your discussions. Use these prompts to help you:

  • The materials we will use include....

  • Our criteria for success are....

  • Acceptable evidence for a successful solution would include....

  • The constraints within which we will work are....

  • We will record and organize our data using....

  • To conduct our investigation safely, we will....

Test Your Model

Record and organize your data and observations from your tests using tables and/or graphs.

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your results and make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason





Present and Compare Findings

Listen to presentations of other groups and create a peer review as scientists do for one another. You might also compare your findings with those of experts in the video or that you have access to, or material on the Internet. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.

  • My findings are similar to (or different from) the experts in the video in that....

  • My findings are similar to (or different from) my classmates in that....

  • My findings are similar to (or different from) what I found on the Internet in that....

Reflect and Redesign

Think about what you learned. How does it change your thinking? Your design?

  • I claim that my ideas have changed from the beginning of this lesson in that....

  • My design would be more effective if I _____ because I learned that....

  • When thinking about the claims made by the experts, I am confused about....

  • One part of the investigation I am most proud of is....

  • The innovations we incorporated included....

  • An idea that I understand better or could teach other students is....

(page 14)

COPY MASTER: Focused ENGINEERING DESIGN Inquiry Guide for Students

Science of Golf: Course Setup

Use this guide to research one or more questions focused on the agronomy of golf course setup. Write your report in your science notebook.

Ask a Beginning Question

How can the use of native plants and areas help golf courses become more ecologically friendly without decreasing the pleasure of golfers?

Plan Research

Brainstorm with your team how you think you can answer your question(s). Use these prompts to help you.

  • Words and phrases associated with our questions are....

  • The reliability of our sources was established by....

  • The science and math concepts related to the topics include....

  • Our research might feed into related topics such as....

  • To conduct the investigation safely, we will....

Record Findings

Record your findings. Include tables, graphs, and other images, as needed.

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your findings, then make one or more claims supported by evidence. You might want to use one of the prompts below to write your claim(s).

  • As supported by... I claim... because....

  • I claim that... because my findings support that....

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason





Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who investigated the same or similar questions. Or do more research on the topic, or talk to an expert. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.

  • My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that....

  • My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that....

  • My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that....

Reflect on Learning

Think about your results. How do they fit with what you already knew? How do they change what you thought you knew about the topic?

  • My ideas about this golf course setup have changed because of this evidence....

  • My ideas concerning firm and fast changed in the following ways....

  • One concept I still do not understand involves....

  • One aspect of fast and firm I would like to learn more about is....

(page 15)



1 point

2 points

3 points

Initial problem

Problem had too simple of a solution, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable.

Problem was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation.

Problem was clearly stated, was researchable or testable, and showed direct relationship to investigation.

Investigation design

The design of the investigation did not support a response to the initial question or provide a solution to the problem.

While the design supported the initial problem, the procedure used to collect data (e.g., number of trials, or control of variables) was insufficient.

Variables were clearly identified and controlled as needed with steps and trials that resulted in data that could be used to answer the question or solve the problem.

Variables (if applicable)

Either the dependent or independent variable was not identified.

While the dependent and independent variables were identified, no controls were present.

Variables identified and controlled in a way that resulting data can be analyzed and compared.

Safety procedures

Basic laboratory safety procedures were followed, but practices specific to the activity were not identified.

Some, but not all, of the safety equipment was used and only some safe practices needed for this investigation were followed.

Appropriate safety equipment used and safe practices adhered to.

Data and Analysis (based on iterations)

Observations were not made or recorded, and data are unreasonable in nature, or do not reflect what actually took place during the investigation.

Observations were made, but were not very detailed, or data appear invalid or were not recorded appropriately.

Detailed observations were made and properly recorded and data are plausible and recorded appropriately.


No claim was made or the claim had no relationship to the evidence used to support it.

Claim was marginally related to evidence from investigation.

Claim was backed by investigative or research evidence.

Findings comparison

Comparison of findings was limited to a description of the initial problem.

Comparison of findings was not supported by the data collected.

Comparison of findings included both methodology and data collected by at least one other entity.


Student reflection was limited to a description of the procedure used.

Student reflections were not related to the initial problem.

Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking.

(page 16)



Next Generation Science Standards

The following inquiry investigations might be part of a summative assessment for these performance expectations. See NGSS documents for additional related Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics.

Engineering Design


  • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

  • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challengeto specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.

  • HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.

  • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Common Core State Standards Connections: ELA/Literacy

  • RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions

  • RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

  • WHST.6-8.1 Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content

  • WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

  • WHST.6-8.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

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