Kampen Prairie

About the project:

This project is a collaborative effort supported in part by the United States Golf Association, Department of Entomology at Purdue University, Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Stantec Native Plant Nursery, and Martin Seed. Together, we have begun the renovation of four large, out of play areas (approximately 6.5 acres in all) to native prairie with the goal of supporting a diverse community of plants, pollinators, and other wildlife.

As part of the vision of legendary golf course designer Pete Dye, the Kampen-Cosler course, the Birk-Boilermaker Golf Complex, was designed with the promise of supporting research that benefits the golf industry. In keeping with this promise, Kampen Prairie represents a living laboratory intended to support the tripartite mission (research, teaching and extension) of the modern land-grant university.

Prairie renovation is a long-term process. It requires planning, preparation and regular maintenance along the way. Establishment of a what most would recognize as a prairie community can take at least three years, but the establishment of a self-sustaining prairie community takes much longer. Kampen Prairie is in the beginning stages of establishment and we are using this process to develop a clear picture of likely outcomes to help guide the efforts of other golf courses interested in converting out-of-play areas to naturalized areas dominated by native prairie vegetation.


There is increasing interest in converting golf course out-of-play areas to naturalized areas dominated by native prairie vegetation. The rational for doing so includes a combination of economic, aesthetic, and ecological considerations. However, golf courses undertaking such a project require science-based information that provides a clear picture of likely outcomes to help guide their efforts. With the aim of supporting the golf industry in their efforts to enhance sustainability, the long-term goal of the Kampen Prairie project is to understand the economic, aesthetic, and ecological dimensions of renovating out-of-play areas to conservation habitat. In support of this goal, the first phase of this project is to evaluate the effects of seeding time (fall vs spring) and method (broadcast seed vs seed drill) on establishment success (floral diversity) and the ecosystem services (pollinator diversity) provided by each approach.

The conversion of out-of-play areas to native vegetation, such as prairie, has the potential to 1) reduce maintenance costs associated with mowing, fertilizing and other management inputs, 2) increase aesthetic appeal as a result of the color and richness of the prairie community and 3) enhance ecosystem services provided by the diverse assortment of pollinators and other wildlife that depend upon native vegetation. The project will provide the golf industry with the first field scale comparison of different seeding approaches, provide a clear picture of expected outcomes, and quantify one aspect of the ecosystem services provided by these eforts.