Golf Digest recently released their 2013/14 ratings for America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. As I do every couple of years, I examined the list for old friends and was pleased, once again, by the number of these highly rated courses that have been working with Audubon International over the years.
If you look at the golf courses in the United States, about seven percent of them are a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, the Audubon Classic Program, or the Audubon Signature Program. Just over three percent of the golf courses have been certified through one of these programs.
Now when we compare this to the America’s Greatest Golf Courses list, we find that 56% are a member of one of our programs and 30% have been certified.
One of the primary explanations that people give me as the reason they do not participate in an environmental program is golfer expectations. “My golfers won’t accept the weedy look”, “my members won’t allow brown turf”, and “I have the worst golfers in the world and I need to have huge playing surfaces to accommodate them” are three common complaints.
That thirty percent of the top rated golf courses in the country have put into place and documented their environmental stewardship efforts shows the falsehood in the economy vs. the environment argument. Having strong environmental plans have certainly not diminished the splendor of the likes of Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and Prairie Dunes Country Club. Indeed, these courses take full advantage of their natural beauty and make efforts to protect and enhance it. And those efforts are appreciated by the wildlife that makes these courses their home, the golfers, and Golf Digest.