Mark Mungeam, ASGCA member and owner of Mungeam Cornish Golf Design in Douglas, Massachusetts, likes a challenge. That’s a good thing, because he faced a big one when he was hired to design a championship golf layout on land earmarked for cultivating endangered plant and animal habitats – and he had to create sustainable irrigation and stormwater run-off systems to support recreation and wildlife, too.

This is the story of Charleston Springs Golf Complex in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Mark Mungeam

The situation

In the 1990s, the Monmouth County, New Jersey, park system implemented a regional Open Space Plan with the goal of incorporating ecological considerations into the development and management of recreational facilities. Part of the 600-acre parcel of land was earmarked for two golf courses and practice facilities. Much of the site for the golf courses was barren, and the development plan called for wildlife habitat, irrigation solutions and stormwater management.

The approach

Mungeam scouted the land for a site with surface water, agricultural soils and minimal forest cover. Those features made the land inherently conducive to designing a golf course, and therefore less expensive to develop. The golf course was also positioned between fragile habitats and other recreational amenities. His design took into account the budget for water, and the ecological requirements of the facility, which forced him to find ways to collect, retain and filter water for irrigation.

The solution

Mungeam and his team designed course grading, drainage and new pond configurations to collect and filter a large percentage of the course runoff. Intensive play areas flow into a series of created wetlands and water quality basins that treat the water prior to reusing it for course irrigation. Irrigation swales were designed to handle runoff and allow percolation to recharge the groundwater. As a result, Mungeam selected drought-tolerant grasses and designed an efficient irrigation system to reduce water dependence.

He found a way to conserve energy – one of the most expensive aspects of the application of water – through the use of geothermal heating and cooling technologies. Water is conserved and protected through the use of low-maintenance grasses, as well as a highly efficient irrigation and fertigation system that minimizes the use of higher-quality groundwater, reduces fertilization needs, and minimizes runoff and leaching of potential pollutants.

The takeaways

By incorporating sustainability and ecological-restoration strategies, Mungeam’s project allows for a variety of ecological functions in wetlands. Degraded land can be brought back to support wildlife, host recreational facilities and promote water conservation in a number of ways. The way land is graded and treated can allow water to be detained, retained and filtered for groundwater recharging and use in irrigation systems, resulting in sustainable land for recreation and wildlife.