Superintendents foster environmental stewardship

Ben Crenshaw praised golf course superintendents during his remarks at the official re-opening of Pinehurst No. 2 where he and architect partner Bill Coore tried to restore it to how Donald Ross intended it to play. “Superintendents don’t get any credit, believe me,” he said. “They should. Every day they present the course for people, and they don’t get the credit.”

Since today April 22 is Earth Day, it’s a good time to take our hats off to these hard-working individuals, most of them members of the Golf Course Superintendents of America, who also foster environmental stewardship.

A recent press release from the GCSAA indicated that the average 18-hole golf course covers 150 acres, with approximately 100 acres of it maintained turf grass. About 11 acres of water are common, and there are an additional 24 acres of non-turf grass landscapes such as forests, grasslands, buffer strips and riparian areas. The latter areas have increased by an average of 9.8 acres at about 44 percent of 18-hole golf facilities since 1996.

“Intuitively, golf course superintendents are stewards of the land,” Greg Lyman, GCSAA environmental programs director, said, pointing out they are responsible for many areas of water, wetlands, forests and other habitats in addition to managing turf grass.

Lyman pointed out several other examples of how superintendents were doing their part as stewards of the land.

Brian Green of the Sunset Valley Golf Course in Highland Park, IL, winner of one of the GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf awards in 2010, installed a rain cistern and rain garden system that collects storm water for irrigation. He created native vegetation buffers around ponds and helped Sunset Valley receive funding from the Illinois EPA for a demonstration of stream bank restoration, effectively stopping erosion, filtering debris, and avoiding sedimentation of downstream areas. Green and his staff also maintain a 4-acre butterfly garden and a bluebird trail with 27 boxes throughout the golf course, in addition to vegetation surrounding the irrigation pond which is listed by the Illinois Audubon Society as a bird watching site within the Lake Michigan flyway.

Dean Graves of the Chevy Chase (MD) Club, who was awarded the 2011 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship, significantly increased the acreage dedicated to wildlife habitat, converting out of play areas of traditionally mowed turf grass to lower maintenance vegetation mixes and instituting a bird-nesting program.

Chris Flynn of Marriott’s Grande Vista in Orlando grew 10-feet-wide buffer strips of native grass along the in-play shorelines of the ponds to protect the water.

Tom Vlach of the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL added a transfer line in 2008 from the reservoir lakes that collect water from surrounding communities which had previously drained into the Atlantic intercoastal waterway, to the irrigation pond, virtually eliminating the facility’s use of well water from the Florida aquifer.


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