Frank LaVardera, Audubon International Director of Environmental Programs for Golf, says “Don’t be bashful about your sustainability successes. Put signage on your course in spots where you are improving wildlife habitats.”
By Frank LaVardera, Audubon International Director of Environmental Programs for Golf
As the popularity of golf continues to climb and the number of rounds played increases, so too does the cost to maintain courses and the impact on our environment. To withstand these added demands on our budgets and climate, it is imperative that golf course operators have a long term sustainability plan and vision in place.
For over 30 years, the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and Signature Sanctuary Programs for Golf has done just that by helping golf course operators with water conservation, wildlife habitat management, chemical use reduction and safety, and more.
While putting that plan in place and following through with all the crucial steps to sustainability is the key component to becoming an Audubon International certified course, equally important is the outreach and education of your program. Explaining your course’s sustainability action plan and sharing tangible results fosters a better understanding of how the climate and environment is benefitting and will help garner additional support, as well as encourage more participation in stewardship projects.
There are many ways you can educate and build awareness to members, daily fee golfers, employees and the surrounding community about your sustainability plan, including:
Promote From Within: Don’t be bashful about your sustainability successes. Put signage on your course in spots where you are improving wildlife habitats. Create clubhouse displays that cite how much water your program has saved. Include information about the decrease in chemicals used at the course in your monthly newsletters and direct communiques with members.
Get Your Community Involved: There is no better way to publicize your sustainability plan than by inviting community members in to see, touch and feel the results. Elementary school children can be brought in to build bird boxes for the course and then monitor their use. Local colleges and universities can help test ponds and streams. Encourage local boy scouts, girls scouts, YMCA groups and others to walk the property and hear what is being done to save the climate. Organize a Resource Advisory Group made up of community members, employees and golfers.
Tell Your Story and Reciprocate: Reach out to local news media outlets and tell them your story. Provide a detailed Case Study that breaks down the challenges your course faced before putting a Sustainability Plan in place and how those problems were solved to benefit climate change. Contact other courses in your area and offer suggestions on how they can become more environmentally friendly.
The bottom line is that you should celebrate your golf course’s sustainability successes and take credit for it. Achieving certification demonstrates an organization’s leadership, commitment, and high standards of environmental management. This is something to be proud of and the more you educate and outreach, the more likely it is that others will follow suit.