Dr Robert ( Bob ) Wesley Sheard ( 1927 – 2020 ) – Hero & Legendary Icon Of The Sports Turf Industry







Dr Robert W Sheard




A WIZARD is a person of amazing skill or great accomplishments. 


A WIZARD is a person who, seemingly, who practices magic. 


When we look at Dr Sheard, he was The WIZARD Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry.  


He was the WIZARD who made two blades of grass grow where one grew before. 


Dr Sheard was a leading icon & tireless worker dedicated to the advancement of the sports turf industry. 


His WIZARDRY led to significant contributions to our understanding of soil science & plant agronomy. 


As an advisor, researcher, & teacher, Dr Sheard helped businesses grow. 


Even after retirement, his WIZARDRY led to great accomplishments with the Sports Turf Trade Association. 


Dr Sheard was one of the truly great heroes & a legendary icon. 


Thank you, Dr Sheard. 










Background Information


The Media Library About More

Heroes Of The Sports Turf Industry












October 24th, 2020


A Look At …


Dr Robert ( Bob ) Wesley Sheard


1927 – 2020


Selected And Adapted Excerpts


References    See later segments





















Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


Personal Legacy




Becoming The Renowned Professor
Of Plant Agronomy & Soils

Starting Family Life Close To The
University Of Guelph Campus




Born in Maryfield, Saskatchewan, on January 17th, 1927, Dr Sheard was the second of six sons on a Canadian Prairie farm. 


Dr Sheard’s love of « GROWING » began at an early age. 


According to Mr Michael Bladon, first president & honorary member of Sports Turf Association trade association   


It was the Canadian farm boy in him. 


For him, it was just the way the world was. 



His post-secondary education included EARNING the following ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS   



   BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN AGRICULTURE ( BSA )    University of Saskatchewan.  


   MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE ( MSc )    University of Toronto at Ontario Agricultural College ( OAC ).  


   DOCTORAL DEGREE ( PhD )   Cornell University.  



He then returned to a career as a PROFESSOR OF PLANT AGRONOMY AND SOILS at Ontario Agricultural College ( OAC ), now called University of Guelph. 


While at the OAC, he met Gladys, and they started their life together in a house built close to the Guelph campus. 


With Gladys, many miles and nights were spent travelling the province visiting numerous friends. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


We lived in the Harcourt neighborhood in Guelph. 


My brother and I used to deliver the newspaper. 


All the houses had names and there was a story associated with each one. 


And I remember as a young boy, visiting the grass plots on Stone Road. 


Dr Sheard and his wife were avid curlers. 


Through the years, he was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


Both my parents volunteered. 


There was this humble sense of obligation about it. 


They had this sense of responsibility in the world. 






















Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


Professional Legacy




The Soil Science Specialist On Turfgrass
Maintenance & Sports Field Construction




Dr Sheard was a PROFESSOR OF PLANT AGRONOMY & SOILS [ a.k.a. PROFESSOR OF SOIL SCIENCE ] at the University of Guelph in Ontario.  


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


At the University of Guelph, my dad arrived AT-THE-RIGHT-PLACE-&-AT-THE-RIGHT-TIME. 


In terms of research, there was so much happening with fertilizers, plant nutrients, hydroponics and with constructing artificial turf. 


It was science and the art of growing things. 


They complimented one another since the days when farmers depended only on their land and the Farmer’s Almanac. 


Departments at the University of Guelph were growing and expanding, as was Dr Sheard’s opportunity to research and pull together a rapidly growing Sports Turf Industry. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


For dad, it was about taking the innovations from the university and bringing them back to the farm. 


Dr Sheard often joked saying his aim was to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. 


Research in nutrient requirements and soil structure led to his SPECIALIZATION IN TURFGRASS AND SPORTS FIELD CONSTRUCTION. 


Dr Sheard’s son, John, says his father had a STRONG SENSE OF THE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH at the University of Guelph and the impact it has on the community and the rest of the world. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


His research also led him to read about what others were doing around the world. 


Academia allowed him many travel opportunities. 


An overview of his statements hid turfgrass research and teaching can be viewed in the NEXT SEGMENT. 


One of the most important things for Sheard was the opportunity to MENTOR HIS STUDENTS, one-on-one. 





















Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


Industry Legacy




The Scientific Advisor To The Sports Turf Industry


A Founding Father Of Guelph Turfgrass Institute




Dr Sheard ADVISED hundreds of businesses operating in the Sports Turf Industry. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


He always encouraged others. 


He delighted in the success of others. 


People have called me from the industry saying that « HE HELPED ME GROW MY BUSINESS ». 


It didn’t matter who they were, academics or not, he was there to help.


He was so quiet and patient. 


It was that on-on-one encouragement and engagement that he wanted to offer others. 


This was the thing with dad, it was having these relationships with people. 


Dr Sheard was a FOUNDER of the modern sports turf industry. 


Dr Sheard was HIGHLY INSTRUMENTAL in the FOUNDING & DEVELOPMENT of the Guelph Turfgrass Institute, now known as the Sports Turfgrass Institute.   


He SERVED on the boards of International Turfgrass Society, Guelph Turfgrass Institute, and Ontario Turfgrass Symposium, among others. 




Background Information




Dr Sheard’s legacy with Guelph Turfgrass Institute ( GTI ) has been IRREPARABLY TARNISHED.  Why would anyone be witless enough to give more & more money to an institution with a disappointing history of repeated failures, betrayals, & bad services ?!?!  Why give millions of dollars, for the second time in thirty years, for the construction of more facilities ?!?!  Should ANY industry provide financial support ?!?!  Hasn’t GTI fooled everyone enough ?!?! 























Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


The Wisdom Of Sheard




The Wizard Who Made Two Blades Of
Grass Grow Where One Grew Before




Here is a partial overview of his statements from Dr Sheard’s early days of modern turfgrass research and teaching   







Correcting Soil Conditions
Will Optimize Turf Growth



The logical place to begin an understanding of how to grow better turf is to START WITH THE SOIL on which the grass grows. 


While the turf manager may provide protection against insects and disease, the primary management function, with the exception of mowing, is the CORRECTION OF THE SOIL CONDITIONS to those which optimize turf growth. 



Reference — Sheard — 1991 00 00 — Understanding Turf Management — 1 — The Soil — STA Newsletter







Scientific Interpretation
Of Soil Test Results



On September 1, 1984, the analytical function for the OMAF Soil Testing Service was assumed by Agri-Food Labs. 


There is NO CHARGE for the service for samples submitted by golf courses, lawn care operators and others engaged in the turf industry. 


Professor R W Sheard will continue to PROVIDE INTERPRETATION OF THE RESULTS unless the otherwise requested. 



Reference — Sheard — 1984 00 00 — 3rd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Synopsis Of Our Findings For 1984







To Crown Or Not To Crown



Most designers of a sports field will specify a crown on the finished surface of the field. 


The crown or slope from the side line to centre field may range from

0.5 to 1.5 per cent. 


James B Beard, in his text, Turfgrass, Science & Culture, recommends up to 2.5 per cent slope. 


This author [ Dr Sheard ] has read reports of fields in the UK where the crown is so great that the ball sitting on the side line is not visible to the player standing on the opposite side line. 



Reference — Sheard — 2003 00 00 — To Crown Or Not To Crown







Nutritional Requirements Of Bentgrass
On All-Sand Rooting Media



The data indicate that SMALL, FREQUENT APPLICATIONS of N and K at intervals of NOT LONGER THAN FOUR WEEKS are preferred to MINIMIZE LOSS through leaching or excessive uptake of nutrients by turf produced on all sand systems. 



Reference — Sheard — 1984 00 00 — 3rd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Synopsis Of Our Findings For 1984







Timing Of Autumn Nitrogen Applications



It is concluded that the « WINTERIZER » application of nitrogen MUST BE MADE AT LEAST THREE WEEKS PRIOR TO SOIL FREEZE-UP. 


Early November mowing to shorten the turf or late April mowing to remove vegetation which-has been desiccated by spring winds will be necessary to realize full advantage of early spring growth and color. 


Delaying the nitrogen application until April MAY DELAY SPRING GREEN-UP by three weeks. 



Reference — Sheard — 1983 00 00 — 2nd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Annual Report For 1983







Comparison With Solid Nitrogen Carriers



Recently the use of soluble N carriers, dissolved or suspended in water, have become popular in the home lawn care industry.  Whilst solutions are in reality only another mechanical system for spreading N, they do offer SEVERAL ADVANTAGES such as  1 )  elimination of mower pickup,  2 )  inclusion of other chemicals such as fungicides and iron in the application,  3 )  consistency of color,  4 )  uniformity of application at low rates, and  5 )  speed of application. 



Reference — Sheard — 1984 00 00 — 3rd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Synopsis Of Our Findings For 1984







Nutritional Requirements Of Bentgrass
On All-Sand Rooting Media



LOSS OF POTASSIUM in the drainage water was PRIMARILY INFLUENCED BY THE pH of the sand with 4.5 times more potassium leaching through the acid sand than the alkaline sand. 


As a result an average 85.3 per cent of the applied potassium was retained in the alkaline sand in contrast to 65.4 per cent retained in the acid sand. 



Reference — Sheard — 1983 00 00 — 2nd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Annual Report For 1983







Iron-Nitrogen Interactions On Bentgrass



The results of the series of trials exhibit some common trends. 


The first is iron had a very small effect or NO EFFECT ON THE GROWTH RATE of the bentgrass. 


The second is iron had a SIGNIFICANT POSITIVE IMPACT on the quality of the turf. 



Reference — Sheard — 1984 00 00 — 3rd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Synopsis Of Our Findings For 1984







Nitrogen Carriers For Bentgrass Production



Although the data for the carriers varied from season to season, it is apparent that many of the carriers were UNABLE TO MAINTAIN A COLOR RATING OF 7.0 with only two applications. 


Furthermore, four applications of urea    and several of the slow-release carriers were also unable to maintain a standard of 7.0 between applications. 


SCU and IBDU were the SUPERIOR materials throughout the four years, whereas UF and sewage sludge NEVER PERFORMED AS WELL as the other materials. 


A significant feature was the GENERAL SUPERIORITY obtained from MORE FREQUENT APPLICATIONS. 


This improved color would suggest equal color can be obtained at lower rates of nitrogen by increasing the number of applications. 


It is recommended that the frequency of application of nitrogen carriers be at least ONCE EVERY FOUR WEEKS. 



Reference — Sheard — 1983 00 00 — 2nd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Annual Report For 1983







Over-Estimation Of Soil Removal



Grass plants ADD ORGANIC MATTER to the soil by the decay of old roots and shoots while living and following harvesting by the plowing-in of root remains. 


Thatch may be mistaken in part for mineral soil by those unfamiliar with the sod industry, resulting in OVER-ESTIMATION OF SOIL REMOVAL. 


The depth of soil removed in sod harvesting averaged 0.37-inches for eight different study sites. 



Reference — Sheard — 0000 00 00 — Common Questions –All Green Sod







Optimizing Turf Growth & Recovery



It was concluded that thatch accumulation and mowing height of the turf DID NOT have a significant effect on racing surface hardness ( therefore, TURF MANAGEMENT SHOULD OPTIMIZE TURF GROWTH AND RECOVERY ), that turf roots were responsible for an increase in impact resistance and in resistance to shear, that control over soil moisture through irrigation and drainage allowed modification of racing surface hardness, and that soil materials tend to have lower impact resistance ( ie, lower shock loading of the horse’s leg ) and higher resistance to shear ( ie, greater resistance to hoof rotation ) than do sand materials. 



Reference — Sheard — 1985 00 00 — Impact & Shear Resistance Of Turf Grass Racing Surfaces For Thoroughbreds — Am J Vet Res







Preventing Injuries On Sports Turf



According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


It was being able to HELP the person who maintained the sports field, wherever it was and to make sure it was maintained in a way that would PREVENT SPORTS INJURIES. 


He had this sense of why it mattered. 


It wasn’t about the research grants as much as it was about keeping people safe, helping the growth of crops, not destroying the soil and paying it forward. 





















Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


Research Conference




On July 19-23, 1981, the 4th International Turfgrass Research Conference ( ITRC ) was held in Guelph, Ontario. 


It was sponsored by Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph, and International Turfgrass Society. 


Dr Sheard was CHAIRMAN of the organizing committee, and was SUPERB AS EDITOR of the massive 564-page BOOK entitled Proceedings Of The Fourth International Turfgrass Research Conference. 


Hundreds of copies of this BOOK were handed-out on-site to all attendees, for the first time ever, at the conclusion of the event. 


This BOOK was an official publication that contained texts of all of the scientific presentations made at the conference. 


Fifteen years earlier, in 1966, James B Beard of the United States, and Bjarne Langvad of Sweden, established the ITRC. 


J R Escritt and J R Watson were also involved. 


In 1969, the FIRST conference was held in Harrogate, England. 


The ITRC had been held every four years    Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA ( 1973 ), Munich, West Germany ( 1977 ). 


ITRC continues to be held to this day. 










Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry






A SABBATICAL is a period of paid leave granted to a university professor for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked. 


1989 was Dr Sheard’s SABBATICAL YEAR to live and work in New Zealand, which allowed his family to travel the world and meet life-long friends. 


Overseas trips to attend the International Turfgrass Research Conferences ( ITRC ) also gave him the travel bug. 


The travel bug for the entire family was lit. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


Mom and dad’s connections were global, and I learned as a 10-year-old boy travelling to New Zealand, that my Guelph, my Canada, was not the centre of the world. 


The world was so wonderful and so big ! 











What We Have Done For

Ourselves Alone, Dies With Us


What We Have Done For Others &

The World Remains, & Is Immortal


  Quote By Albert Pike, American Author, Poet, Orator,

Jurist, & Prominent Member Of The Freemasons











Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry






RETIREMENT in 1990 brought more time for gardening, travel, and especially cherished grand-children. 


Dr Sheard was UNWAVERING in his commitment to Gladys and, following her stroke in 1985, and he fully supported her advocacy work for stroke recovery.


He and Gladys moved to the Village of Arbour Trails in 2013. 


He himself experienced a stroke in 2016. 


To his final days, he grew plants in his room and enjoyed his flower garden outside    he was motivated his entire life to help plants and people grow. 


According to Mr Michael Bladon, first president and honorary member of STA   


And gardening. 


He was an avid gardener, right from the seed. 


He just loved gardening. 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


And yes, he always had a garden. 


Growing things was just a habit. 


He would dig up geraniums and there would be over 200 in the basement and then he would replant them in the spring. 


The hard thing was leaving his garden behind when he and my mom moved to Arbour Trails. 


Dr Sheard passed away peacefully of natural causes on October 21st, 2020, at the Village of Arbour Trails, Guelph, Ontario, at the age of 93, with both of his sons by his side. 


Dr Sheard is survived by sons Bill Sheard of Calgary, and John Goerzen Sheard ( Mary ) of Elmira, grand-daughter Katie, grand-son Wesley, and brothers Tom, John, Francis, and Alex, along with numerous nieces and nephews. 


He is pre-deceased by his loving wife Gladys ( White ) of 62 years, parents Ben and Ida Sheard, and older brother Bill.





















Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


Sports Turf Association




The Founding Father Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry


A Founder Of Sports Turf Trade Association






RETIREMENT in 1990 meant Sheard could spend more time with occasional consulting and work with Sports Turf [ TRADE ] Association ( STA ). 


According to Dr Sheard’s son, RETIREMENT allowed his father to leave behind the politics of campus life and that it was his practical work that truly fulfilled him. 



Here is a short history of his EXTRAORDINARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS with STA   





Dr Sheard became involved with the BIRTH AND DEVELOPMENT of STA in 1990, soon after his RETIREMENT from the University of Guelph. 





Dr Sheard PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE in all of STA’s initiatives since 1990. 


He was INSTRUMENTAL in the DEVELOPMENT of STA, now known as Sports Turf Canada ( STC ). 


According to Mr Michael Bladon, first president and honorary member of STA   


He was a fine researcher and he basically grounded the association. 





Dr Sheard was APPOINTED as STA’s first Executive Secretary in 1990. 





Dr Sheard ESTABLISHED the STA Scholarship Program in 1993, which financially-assists students in a recognized post-secondary program in turf management with the cost of tuition, books, and related expenses. 


As of 2020, 26 students from across the nation have benefited from these scholarships. 


In 2007, the STA Scholarship Program was re-named the STA [ STC ] Robert W Sheard Scholarship in RECOGNITION of Dr Sheard’s IMMEASURABLE CONTRIBUTIONS AND SUPPORT provided to STA over two decades. 





Dr Sheard was the AUTHOR of STA’s publication Understanding Turf Management. 




According to Dr Sheard’s son, Mr John Goerzen Sheard   


This was my dad. 

He did everything he could to pay it forward. 


Understanding Turf Management has fulfilled an important niche as an inexpensive, but authoritative text for the novice turf manager as well as a handy reference for the more experienced practitioner. 


Dr Sheard wrote about PLANT AGRONOMY & SOIL SCIENCE concepts that were applicable for any turf manager, from the golf course superintendent to the parks supervisor, whether maintaining golf greens, sports fields, or race tracks for thoroughbreds. 





Dr Sheard EDITED AND PUBLISHED STA’s Athletic Field Construction Manual. 


This manual became the industry « BIBLE ». 





Dr Sheard EDITED AND PUBLISHED STA’s Sports Turf Newsletter, now called the Sports Turf Manager. 


Published four times a year, Sports Turf Manager has been the ONLY Canadian publication specific to the Sports Turf Industry. 





Dr Sheard EDITED AND PRODUCED a series of three video-tapes on turf management, in cooperation with the University of Guelph, in 1990. 





Dr Sheard was AUTHOR AND EDITOR of STA’s publications, including Constructing The Sports Field and The Sports Field. 





Dr Sheard EDITED AND PUBLISHED STA’s An Athletic Field Managers’ Guide in 1991. 



According to Mr Michael Bladon, first president and honorary member of STA   


Bob was a MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR, and he did a great amount of work for the association. 


He was a member of the board of directors, and he also received an honorary life-time membership. 


He was a busy guy, but he loved every minute of it. 











































Dr Robert W Sheard    The Wizard Of The Modern Sports Turf Industry





1927 – 2020 — Lived A Life Full Of Love

1927 – 2020 — Robert Wesley ( Bob ) Sheard Obituary

1927 – 2020 — Key Founder Of GTI & Sports Turf Canada Passes Away

1927 – 2020 — Died Peacefully Of Natural Causes

2nd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Annual Report For 1983

3rd Annual Turfgrass Research Report — Synopsis Of Our Findings For 1984

Common Questions

History Of The International Turfgrass Society

Impact & Shear Resistance Of Turf Grass Racing Surfaces For Thoroughbreds

STA Renames Scholarship

To Crown Or Not To Crown

Understanding Turf Management — 4 — Soil, Air, & Water — STA Newsletter

Understanding Turf Management — 1 — The Soil — STA Newsletter






















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