The Florida Department of Environmental Protection grades courses through its voluntary program in four categories—education, lake management, fertilizer management, and irrigation and fertilization. The high score for The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club reflected its efforts to reduce fertilizer use, grow higher grasses to filter water, and put in diffusers to add oxygen to lakes and reduce nutrient output.
As golfers in Sanibel, Fla. fill out scorecards, the island’s courses are getting graded on report cards, NBC2 News reported. The city is working with golf courses in the community to improve water quality. They want to make sure the clubs are reducing fertilizer use and taking other measures to prevent harmful nutrients from getting into the Gulf of Mexico.
“We grade them 1-5 so they can see how well they’re complying with our recommendations,” said Dana Dettmar with the city’s natural resources department.
The recommendations come from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, NBC2 News reported. The courses are graded based on four categories: education, lake management, fertilizer management, and irrigation and fertilization.
“They know what we’re doing, they see what we have, and they see where we’re trying to improve and give their input as to what we should be doing,” said Brian Kautz, the General Manager of The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the natural resources department announced the latest report card results, NBC2 News reported. The Dunes got a score of 94 percent.
“It is our scorecard, and it’s a benchmark,” Kautz said.
Even with a good score, the course is still seeing algae blooms in some lakes, NBC2 News reported.
“We’re trying to use as little as possible to prevent that runoff,” Kautz said.
Kautz said to reduce nutrient output, they are reducing fertilizer use, growing higher grasses to filter the water and putting in diffusers to add oxygen to the lakes, NBC2 News reported. The island’s other courses are doing these things too, and the program is completely voluntary—so there are no consequences for a bad report.
“Every little bit counts,” Dettmar said.
The Sanctuary Golf Club got a 92 percent, and the Sanibel Island Golf Club came in at 86, which is considered partial compliance, NBC2 News reported.
Dettmar told NBC2 News each course has different challenges, and she’s happy they’re working on these improvements.
“We need to be working together as a team to fix local and regional water quality, and it’s [going to] take everyone making an effort,” Dettmar said.
The courses can get dinged for having low grasses near their lakes, using higher nutrient amounts and failing to report algae blooms and fish kills, NBC2 News reported.
“It’s really important because one, we want to document these occurrences to know how frequently they’re happening on the island,” Dettmar said.
This city implemented the report card system in 2008 after putting regulations on residential fertilizer use, NBC2 News reported. A state law says golf courses don’t have to follow the same rules, but the city has been working with SCCF to monitor them.
“We want to do the right thing, especially with water quality issues in South Florida,” Kautz said.
Dettmar told NBC2 News these report cards are given out annually, and the latest report is from October 2018-September 2019.