Audubon Sustainable Golf Facility Program helps golf courses become more sustainable
Founded in 1916, the PGA of America is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and is made up of more than 28,000 men and women golf professional members. As “the experts in the game and business of golf,” the PGA of America’s undertaking has been to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.
The powerful Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America) has registered its PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program. As a pilot member of the program, the management of the PGA Village facility worked with Audubon Lifestyles and the International Sustainability Council (ISC) to complete and submit all the necessary documentation in order for the facility to become a Certified Sustainable Golf Facility and to participate in the ISC Sustainability Rating.
Audubon Sustainable Golf Facility Program
“We are pleased to announce that the PGA Village has achieved the designation of Certified Audubon Sustainable Golf Facility and the ISC Sustainability Rating of Three Stars,” revealed Ronald Dodson, Chairman of the ISC. The Certification and Sustainability Rating is based on a comprehensive assessment, audit and submittal process that details economic, environmental and social aspects of facility management. In addition the PGA Village has created and adopted a Sustainability Charter which is published on the facility web page as a reference for future management strategies.
“We have been working on the Sustainable Golf Facility Program for several years, including for the past year or so with 6 pilot member facilities. We were very excited when the PGA decided to become a pilot member and we are even more excited that the PGA has become the first golf facility to become fully engaged in the program, become certified and receive the ISC Sustainability Rating”, declared Eric Dodson, chief executive officer of Audubon Lifestyles. He went on to add, “The PGA and the PGA Village have set the bar in regard to sustainable golf facility management.” During the pilot phase of program development, the Sustainable Golf Facility Program also became Trade Marked through the United States Department of Commerce.
Environmental, economic and social sustainability
David S. Downing II, CGCS, Director of Golf Course Operations for the PGA Village facility, while reflecting on the Sustainable Golf Facility Certification and ISC Sustainability Rating said, “I have a passion for sustainability because of what it really means. To me if each golf facility is truly sustainable, then we are a community asset. We can stand proudly on all three legs of sustainability, environmental responsibility, economic viability and social responsibility”.
According to Downing, courses are proven to provide habitat for wildlife, be filters for storm water and providing green space. This green space also provides jobs and recreation to the community. “This is a message I am proud of as a 30+ year veteran of the golf industry. Golf courses in general have struggled to be viewed as community assets in the past. A certified sustainable golf facility certainly helps the community awareness,” Downing pointed out.
Effective water management at the PGA Golf Club
The PGA Golf Club is working with the PGA Village Property Owner’s Association in order to better manage storm water. “We have begun discussions about how we can work together to maximize the water for irrigation,” Downing explained. On its Ryder Course, the club has worked with the Tom Fabio Course Designers to reduce the number of golf course bunkers, making the remaining bunkers less costly to maintain and reduce irrigated, maintained turf areas. These improvements are designed to reduce the clubs inputs and fuel usage, while still providing important green space benefits. Downing continued, “We are beginning to look at the same things on the other courses as well …. Because finally, being sustainable is a combination of good business and being a good neighbor.”
Audubon Lifestyles and the ISC believe that it is economic viability that serves as the foundation that golf must stand on to be able to address the environmental and social aspects of sustainability. It is now hoped that the Sustainable Golf Facility Program becomes embraced by the golf industry as an important framework to help move toward a more sustainable society.