Golf and the Environment By Chris Cook

Golf and the Environment

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Page 1: Golf and the Environment

Golf and the EnvironmentBy Chris Cook

Page 2: Golf and the Environment

About MeGolf course superintendent

at Bailey Ranch Golf Club since January 2007.

Assistant superintendent at Wichita Country Club from 2004-07.

Graduated from KSU with Bachelor’s in Golf Course Management in 2004

Life long golferOutdoor enthusiast

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Misconceptions about golf’s impact on the environment

Facts about environmental impact

Local efforts to improve environmental


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Misconceptions“Golf courses use too much water.”

“Golf courses don’t benefit the environment.”“Pesticides used on golf courses are

dangerous to golfers.”

“Golf courses can’t support wildlife.”

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Environmental Impact There are approximately 2.2 million total acres on golf facilities in

the U.S. 1.5 million acres are maintained turfgrass such as greens, tees,

fairways, and rough, of which, 80% is irrigated. (Environmental Institute for Golf, 2009)

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a total of 408 million gallons of water are consumed every day in the United States. Golf courses account for only 1/2% of this total. (Hudson et al, 2004)

Exposures to golfers following full applications turfgrass insecticides were 19 to 68 times lower than levels set by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to protect human health. (Clark,2008)

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Environmental Impact Cont.U.S. golf facilities have approximately 358,000 acres of natural

habitat, i.e. woodlands, grasslands, deserts, etc. (EIFG, 2007)

A diverse wildlife population can be achieved by an integrated landscape of turfgrass, trees, shrubs, and water features, such as can be found on golf courses. (Green and Marshall, 1987)

Golf courses provide critical greenspace in urban, and suburban, areas for wildlife habitat, atmospheric cooling, and absorbing pollutants such as carbon dioxide. (Watschke, 1990)

Approximately 55 sq.ft. of healthy turf supplies enough oxygen for one person for an entire day. (Beard, 1973)

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Environmental Impact Cont.Golf courses can provide habitat corridors between

protected areas, and become increasingly important as the rate of habitat loss in urban areas is considered. (Stangel and Distler, 2002)

Studies have shown the ability of turfgrass to reduce stormwater runoff and therefore enhance soil water infiltration and groundwater recharge. (Gross et al.,1991) The reduced runoff volume, due to turf cover, may decrease

the stormwater management requirements for urban developments. (Shuyler, 1987)

Golf courses can be a perfect use for reclaimed land such as landfills and mining operations.

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Liberty NationalJersey City, NJ

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Chambers Bay University Place, WA

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Streamsong Resort, Red CourseFort Meade, FL

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Bailey Ranch GC & EnvironmentSo what are we doing to improve and

promote environmental stewardship?Multi-faceted approach:

Water conservationProtection of water qualityMinimizing inputs through Integrated Pest

Management (IPM), and other Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Increasing/Promoting wildlife habitat

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Water ConservationUse ponds as water

sourceWater is contained in

two ponds totaling 18 acres. Siltation has limited

water capacity over years.

Must maximize water used

This is done in the following ways:

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Water Conservation Cont.Daily audits of system to

ensure maximum efficiency and minimize leaks.

Computer-controlled irrigation system

Use of wetting agents to increase efficacy of rain/irrigation water.

Handwatering Staff utilizes moisture

meters to check soil moisture daily

Maintain drier conditions, accepting a little brown turf. Golfer acceptance of this is

improving over time.

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Water Conservation Cont.

United States Golf Association has been instrumental in shifting public perception on water use and golf course expectations. “Brown is new green”Courses maintained with less water play firm

and fast which improves playing conditions.

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Muirfield Golf ClubGullane, Scotland

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Pinehurst No.2 before restoration

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Pinehurst No. 2after restoration

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Protecting Water QualityRiparian buffer zones

are in place to filter storm water runoffAlso reduces fuel usage

and labor costs since these areas are not mowed weekly.

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Reducing InputsDue to budget constraints,

Bailey Ranch has always used resources sparingly.

Over the years, more focus has been made to improve efficacy of applications to further reduce inputs.

Aggressive cultural programs are utilized to help improve turf health so, in many cases, pesticides use can be reduced. Examples of these are core

aeration and sand topdressing

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Reducing Inputs Cont.Recently, a new computer-

controlled sprayrig was purchased to improve accuracy and consistency.

Newer product chemistries allow for greater efficacy with much lower use rates. Broad-spectrum vs.

targeted approach

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Integrated Pest ManagementIPM programs consist of three steps:

Monitoring (assessing environmental conditions, correct ID of pest, and knowledge of pest biology).

Establishing action thresholdsActing on those thresholds either preventatively, or

curatively, and selecting a control method (cultural, chemical, biological, manual, or mechanical).

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IPM Pyramid

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Native ConversionsConverting select areas from maintained rough, to low

maintenance native grass, have had a positive impact. Over 7 acres have been converted to grassland habitat.

This translates into increased wildlife habitat, reduced water usage, less fuel consumption, labor savings, and reductions in fertilizer and pesticide use.

In many cases, native grass improves the design aesthetic of a golf hole. The par 3 #8 is a prime example.

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Native Conversions

#8 before conversion

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#8 after conversion

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Promoting wildlife habitatMany species live on

the golf course year-round. Deer, rabbits, squirrels,

hawk, blue heron, ducks, etc.

Many bird species visit periodically throughout the year during migration. Canada geese, cormorants,

and bald eagle.

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Bluebird projectThis past winter, the staff,

with technical support from the Oklahoma Bluebird Society, constructed 6 bluebird boxes with 6 more planned next winter.

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Other InitiativesRecycling

Scrap metalAluminum cansPaper


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References1. Beard, J.B. 1973. Turfgrass: Science and Culture. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ2. Clark, John. University of Massachusetts Amherst. Veterinary and Animal Science. Golf

Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Golfers. 29 July 2008. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.3. Green, RH. and I.C. Marshall. 1987. An assessment of the role of golf courses in Kent,

England, in protecting wildlife and landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning. 14:143-154.4. Gross, C.M., 1.S. Angle, R.L. Hill, and M.S. Welterlen. 1991. Runoff and sediment losses

from tall fescue under simulated rainfall. 1. Environ. Qual. 20:604-607.5. Hutson, Susan S., Barber, Nancy L., Kenny, Joan F., Linsey, Kristin S., Lumia, Deborah S.,

and Maupin, Molly A. Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000, U.S. Geological Survey, USGS Circular 1268, 15 figures, 14 tables (released March 2004, revised April 2004, May 2004, February 2005)

6. Property Profile and Environmental Stewardship of Golf Courses. Rep. Vol. 2. Environmental Institute for Golf, 2007. Print

7. Water Use and Conservation Practices on U.S. Golf Courses. Rep. Vol. 2 . Environmental Insitute for Golf, 2009. Print

8. Watschke, T.L. 1990. The environmental benefits of turfgrass and their impact on the greenhouse effect. Golf Course Mgmt. February. pp. 150-154.

9. Stangel, Peter, and Katie Distler. Golf Courses for Wildlife: Looking Beyond the Turf. Rep. USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online, 15 Mar. 2002. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

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