(Pictured: Algonkian GC)
The Algonkian, Brambleton and Pohick Bay courses operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority have been recertified by Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf for turf conversions and the establishment of no-mow areas that have led to significant reductions of water use and emissions. Paul Gilbert, Executive Director of NOVA Parks, estimates that a thousand gallons of fuel is now being saved annually.
Golf courses operated by the Northern Virginia (NOVA) Regional Park Authority—the Algonkian and Brambleton courses in Loudoun County, and the Pohick Bay course in Fairfax County—are being honored for being environmentally friendly, station WTOP of Washington, D.C. reported.
The three NOVA Parks courses were the first publicly owned courses in the mid-Atlantic region to be certified in 2007 and 2008 through Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, WTOP reported. Now the Audubon group is about to recertify Algonkian and Brambleton for their commitment to sustainable resource management. Pohick Bay was recertified earlier this year.
Paul Gilbert, Executive Director of NOVA Parks, told WTOP that the property’s course superintendents have made several changes to preserve natural areas and wildlife habitats, while ensuring that the golf experience remains pleasurable for players.
“We’re using a lot less water,” Gilbert said. “We’ve changed the species of grass that we’re using in many places, and the result has been thousands of gallons of water ever year that we’re not using.”
There is not a one-size-fits-all method, Gilbert told WTOP. “All three of our golf courses, while they’re all in Northern Virginia, have different qualities to them,” he said. “Some are low-lying, wet areas, some drain better than others, and some are more shaded than others.”
One of the most dramatic changes was at Algonkian golf course, on the Potomac River, in the Sterling, Va. area, Gilbert told WTOP. “We changed the grass there to a Bermuda grass that is much more hardy and requires less water and less work,” he said.
The Pohick Bay course uses a mix of that Bermuda grass and other grasses, WTOP reported, while the Brambleton course uses bentgrass. “No mow” areas on all three courses have reduced water usage and emissions related to mowing.
A large portion of the Audubon certification process focuses on trying to figure out how to increase the habitat value of golf courses, Gilbert told WTOP.
“If you don’t mow the areas you don’t have to, you let those grow up into a meadow area that provides wonderful habitats for birds and butterflies,” said Gilbert, who estimates that NOVA Parks now saves a thousand gallons of fuel a year on the courses for areas they are no longer mowing.
“It’s sort of a double benefit,” he said. “There’s some cost reduction and some reductions in the emissions, but the real benefit is the habitat is so much more healthy because of it.”