GCSAA, Golf Digest: 2010 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards

Here's the full News Release from the GCSAA, but for those interested in just the winners and their efforts I've posted a trimmed version below without all the sponsor, history and Association fluff.

The ELGA winners went above and beyond in their environmental stewardship. They feature management programs using efficient and accurate irrigation systems; extensive recycling programs; composting of grass clippings, leaves and other herbaceous debris; bird houses; energy-saving light; and stringent integrated pest management programs.

Brian Green, CGCS, Sunset Valley Golf Course 
Green, a 32-year GCSAA member, is a GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Sunset Valley Golf Course, an 18-hole municipal course on Chicago's North Shore that serves as a wildlife corridor in an urban setting. The entire property is within the Chicago River watershed and the golf course pumps storm and effluent water from the north branch of the river for irrigation, conserving 7-20 million gallons of potable Lake Michigan water annually. More than 70 percent of Sunset Valley's 100 acres is floodplain and 12 acres of bioswales help collect flood waters and filter the overflow before it returns to the Chicago River. Green has created native vegetation buffers around ponds and he has helped Sunset Valley receive funding from the Illinois EPA for a demonstration of streambank restoration, effectively stopping erosion, filtering debris, and avoiding sedimentation of downstream areas.

Green and Sunset Valley worked with the Parks Department and Natural Areas coordinator on another project funded by a grant from the Illinois EPA to install a rain cistern and rain garden system that collects 4,800 gallons of rainwater per month from the maintenance building roof, stores it for use in watering greenhouse plants, and channels runoff through a rain garden into a pond by the first hole. Sunset Valley cooperates with Clarke Environmental to monitor a mosquito trap collecting swamp mosquitoes, the common vector in West Nile Virus. Green has working partnerships with the Friends of Chicago River environmental group, the North Branch Watershed Group, and the Stormwater Management Commission as well. Green and his staff also maintain a 4-acre butterfly garden and a bluebird trail with 27 boxes throughout the golf course, in addition to vegetation surrounding the irrigation pond which is listed by the Illinois Audubon Society as a bird watching site within the Lake Michigan flyway.

A past president of the Chicagoland Association of Golf Course Superintendents, Green has made presentations to environmental science classes at DePaul University, as well as local Lions Club and Rotary meetings. He graduated from Michigan State's 2-year turf program in 1980, and got his start working summers at Bob O'Link Golf Club in Highland Park, Ill., where he was mentored by the father-son combination of Bob and Bruce Williams, CGCS, both GCSAA past presidents.

Todd Bunte, GCSAA Class A superintendent, TPC Jasna Polana 
Bunte, an 11-year GCSAA member, is the GCSAA Class A superintendent at TPC Jasna Polana, a private course in a rolling, woodland and wetland area outside Princeton, N.J. He subscribes to a satellite weather service to determine timing and amounts of irrigation, uses moisture probes to determine irrigation needs, and employs a full time irrigation foreman to make daily irrigation system inspections and immediate repairs. The irrigation pump station utilizes variable frequency drive technology, a more energy efficient system that only provides the electric motors the amount of power necessary to meet the demand for water. The Stony Brook, which is a state protected trout stream, forms the northern border of the golf course property and two of its tributaries flow through the course. The woodlands and wetlands areas serve as wildlife corridors and understory vegetation is protected for habitat preservation.

Bunte has TPC Jasna Polana certified as a River Friendly Golf Course and an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. In addition to housing significant resident populations of wild turkeys, groundhogs, Eastern bluebirds, red tail hawks, white tail deer, crested woodpeckers, orioles, and various types of snakes, the golf course has an increasing red fox population and is periodically visited by bald eagles and ospreys. Bunte has an associate's degree in horticulture technology from Northern Virginia Community College and a 2-year certificate in golf course management from Rutgers University.

Christopher Flynn, CGCS, Marriott's Grande Vista 
Flynn, a 13-year GCSAA member, is a GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Marriott's Grande Vista, a resort in Orlando featuring towering pines, oaks and cypress trees surrounding the 9-hole, 2,300-yard, par-32 Grande Vista course, a 18-hole Grande Pines course, and a practice facility that is home to the Nick Faldo Golf Institute. Located at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades ecosystem, Grande Vista features 30 acres of native area, 10 acres of wetlands and 40 acres of ponds. Ten-feet-wide buffer strips of native grass along the in-play shorelines of the ponds protect the water, which is also tested twice-a-year to ensure maintenance practices are not negatively impacting water quality.

Flynn has created a Native Area Improvement Plan with two neighboring resorts that focuses on enhancements, outreach and educating guests. Grande Vista, which is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, has partnered with the South Florida Water Management District to develop and build a nature trail that connects the resort to the adjoining conservation lands. Flynn also developed an initiative to become a designated property in the Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Green Lodging Program. He has a bachelor's degree in plant science from the State University of New York at Cobleskill, and is enrolled in the environmental management graduate program at the University of Florida. Flynn is the two-time defending recipient of the J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence.

Thomas Vlach, CGCS, TPC Sawgrass 
Vlach, a 20-year GCSAA member, is a GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at TPC Sawgrass, a 36-hole resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., that lies on 400 acres of previous forest and swampland. TPC Sawgrass is home of the PGA Tour, the Players Championship, and the Nationwide Tour's Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open Presented by Planters. Both tournaments combine to annually contribute more than $6.7 million to charity. In 2008, Vlach and his staff added a transfer line from the reservoir lakes to the irrigation pond, virtually eliminating the facility's use of well water from the Florida aquifer. The reservoir lakes collect drainage water from surrounding communities that would have previously drained into the Atlantic intercoastal waterway.

TPC Sawgrass is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program and Vlach and his staff work closely with the St. Johns County wildlife management department, as well as Beaches Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary. Vlach has a bachelor's degree in turf management from the University of Wisconsin. He is a past president of the Alabama GCSA and a past vice president of the Palm Beach GCSA. His staff regularly updates a blog with environmental information for golfers, and TPC Sawgrass leverages the national attention surrounding the Players Championship each year to highlight its environmental stewardship. Vlach hosts high school students from St. Augustine Tech each semester to provide hands-on experience with all aspects of the golf course management operation, including environmental stewardship, and his staff also provides facility tours to resort guests and a Jacksonville-based Autism awareness program.

David Cole, GCSAA international superintendent member, Loch Lomond Golf Club 
Cole, a 12-year GCSAA member, is the superintendent at Loch Lomond Golf Club in Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. The home of The Barclays Scottish Open, Loch Lomond is a parkland course located in a national park and guarded on three sides by the legendary banks of Loch Lomond. The club has an abstraction license from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to draw a limited amount of irrigation water from Loch Lomond. The maintenance department uses a mechanical recycle wash bay to collect, filter and re-use water from vehicle and equipment washing. Vegetative buffer zones are managed along the shores and Cole is pursuing a grant from the national park authorities for erosion control measures to protect the Loch shore from high water levels. He also works closely with the national park authorities and the Scottish Natural Heritage to effectively manage the estate.

The Loch Lomond area averages 2,000mm (80 inches) of rain annually which Cole has countered with the installation of 125,000 linear meters of drainage in the past six years, which has improved the sustainability and quality of the playing surface. Cole has worked with the Scottish Forestry Commission to successfully increase the habitat for barn owls and bats, installing boxes for both throughout the property. The Scottish Open has a three-year environmental plan of promoting wider environmental awareness, including an environmental section within its website. Cole also has a blog on the club's website where he highlights the environmental stewardship of the golf course and estate. Loch Lomond is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, Golf Environment Organization registered, and a six-time British and International Golf Greenkeepers' Association (BIGGA) Golf and Environment Award winner. Cole has a national certificate in turfgrass management from Langside College and a higher national certificate in turfgrass management from Elmwood College. He is working toward GCSAA certification and BIGGA master greenkeeper designations.

In addition to the national winners, 15 chapter winners and five merit winners were selected from GCSAA's 100 affiliated chapters.

2010 ELGA Chapter Winners

Public Facilities (facility; location; chapter)
  • Robb Arnold; TPC Louisiana; Avondale, La.; Louisiana-Mississippi GCSA
  • Paul Carter, CGCS; Bear Trace at Harrison Bay; Harrison, Tenn.; Tennessee GCSA
  • Michael Garvale, CGCS; Callippe Preserve Golf Course; Pleasanton, Calif.; GCSA of Northern California
  • Dustin Green; Mirimichi Golf Course; Millington, Tenn.; Tennessee GCSA
  • Paul Grogan, CGCS; TPC Deere Run; East Moline, Ill.; Iowa GCSA
  • Gary Ingram, CGCS; Metropolitan Golf Links; Oakland, Calif.; GCSA of Northern California
  • Tim Powers, CGCS; Crystal Springs Golf Course; Burlingame, Calif.; GCSA of Northern California
  • Christopher Sorrell; Eagles Ridge Golf Course; Curwensville, Pa.; Mountain & Valley GCSA
  • Kim Wood; TPC Las Vegas; Southern Nevada GCSA

Private Facilities (facility; location; chapter)
  • Stephen Britton; TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm; Potomac, Md.; Mid-Atlantic Association of GCS
  • Michael Crawford, CGCS; TPC Sugarloaf; Duluth, Ga.; Georgia GCSA
  • Thomas DeGrandi; TPC River Highlands; Cromwell, Conn.; Connecticut Association of GCS
  • Jim Pavonetti, CGCS; Fairview Country Club; Greenwich, Conn.; Metropolitan GCSA

Resort Facilities (facility; location; chapter)
  • Christopher Condon; Tetherow Resort and Golf Course; Bend, Ore.; Oregon GCSA
  • Brad Fry; The Golf Club at Harbor Shores; Benton Harbor, Mich.; Michigan GCSA
  • Jeff Plotts; TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.); Cactus and Pine GCSA

2010 ELGA Merit Winners

Public Facility 
  • Scott O'Bryant; Traditions at Braselton; Jefferson, Ga.

Private Facilities
  • David Davies, CGCS; TPC Stonebrae; Hayward, Calif.
  • Dale Hahn, CGCS; TPC Summerlin; Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Jim Thomas, CGCS; TPC Southwind; Memphis, Tenn.

The Environmental Leaders in Golf Award recognizes golf course superintendents and their courses for overall course management excellence in the areas of resource conservation, water quality management, integrated pest management, wildlife/habitat management and education/outreach. In addition, these categories are judged on sustainability, criticality, originality and technology implementation/use. An independent panel of judges representing national environmental groups, turfgrass experts, university research and members of the golf community conducted the award selection.

1 Comments so far

Congrats to all the winners - They should be proud!
-Jackie @ Sediment Control