Paul L. Carter, certified golf course superintendent (CGCS) at Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Tenn., makes no secret that he and his crew spend as much time on environmental endeavors on the course as they do on golf course maintenance. Carter also says people come to Bear Trace to explore the environment as much as they do to play golf.
So it’s no surprise that Carter, who has spent the last 13 years at Bear Trace, has been selected to receive the 2015 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship by the board of directors of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
Carter, 45, will officially receive the award Wednesday, Feb. 25, during the Opening Session at the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio (Feb. 21-26). The Opening Session is presented in partnership with Syngenta.
The GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship was established in 1991 to recognize “an exceptional environmental contribution to the game of golf; a contribution that further exemplifies the golf course superintendent’s image as a steward of the land.”
“Paul’s work is a shining example for all superintendents,” said GCSAA President Keith Ihms, CGCS. “Through his impactful environmental stewardship, he demonstrates the full benefits of what golf courses can be for recreation and a healthy environment through professional management. We are pleased to honor him for his accomplishments.”
A 22-year member of GCSAA, Carter has been actively working to promote environmentally friendly golf from the start. A graduate of Auburn University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture-landscape design, Carter previously won the GCSAA national public and overall Environmental Leadership in Golf Award in 2013 after four consecutive association regional awards for environmental leadership (2009-12).
He also brought Bear Trace to certification in 2008 as one of just seven golf courses in Tennessee in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. The course is one of only six in the U.S. to earn certification with the Golf Environment Organization.
Bear Trace has also been recognized twice for the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award, in 2009 and 2012. The award-winning public course is a Jack Nicklaus design that is one of nine courses on the Tennessee Golf Trail.
In addition, Bear Trace has been designated a Groundwater Guardian Green Site as a result of Carter’s management, which has eliminated pollution in groundwater runoff. He has managed on-course changes as well: moving to a more suitable bermudagrass turf and reducing chemical use by 75 percent with a variety of conservation programs.
He also trimmed 50 acres of highly managed turf to save more than 7.4 million gallons of water annually.
“This is a tremendous honor,” said Carter. “I consider myself fortunate to be considered and even more blessed to receive the award.
“I am lucky to work for the Tennessee state parks system, so I have had support for every environmental project we wanted to do. Protecting the environment and our natural resources falls right in our wheelhouse. And we have been able to limit expenses and resources without sacrificing conditioning.”
Carter also has been active as president of the Tennessee Turfgrass Association for the past two years and has been instrumental in promoting Rounds 4 Research for the Tennessee Golf Course Superintendents Association.