Representatives from industry suppliers expand on what the concept means to their companies and the message they’re trying to convey to superintendents.
Director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs
Describe what sustainability means to your company.
For Audubon International, sustainability really means finding that balance between a healthy ecosystem and the human world. We educate the managers of the places where people live, work and play to find that balance, golf courses being one of those places. Golf courses can be such important green spaces for a community, and we are on a mission to help golf course managers and the community to see that potential. For many years, golf courses were seen as only that, a place to play golf. Now, more than ever, we are seeing a change in the way courses are viewed by their surrounding community, as they are being used as a place for educational events, hiking trails and birders to appreciate the natural environment.
Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?
Sustainability doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. It’s about setting benchmarks and goals and reaching them. And then set some more. Before you know it, you will have reduced water usage and improved your courses ecosystem in a big way. We know superintendents are stressed for time, and the cooperative sanctuary program was designed as a step-by-step process with that in mind. Take it slow and steady and you will end up somewhere wonderful.
In general, are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?
Yes. Golf courses are doing a great job at embracing sustainability, and we see that every day with the innovative projects they are completing and their genuine desire to better the environment. It’s not all about economics anymore, although that still plays a large part, but courses are really continuing to be sustainable for the love of the habitat they create. This was best reflected with our first annual Bio Blitz event this year. We know many superintendents are busy in the spring, so we really weren’t sure what kind of response we would have. We were overwhelmed at the number of courses that showed interest in putting on a Bio Blitz – a species-counting competition designed to create awareness among golfers and the community about the environmental value of the habitats – at their courses in honor of Earth Day, and by the amount of great data that came in about the habitats courses are providing for some really cool species. Stories like this really show that courses are embracing a sustainable mission, and are enjoying it as well.