BETHESDA, MD–Since 1991, Congressional Country Club, a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, has been working under the guidance of a steering committee and Audubon International staff to enhance the natural areas and wildlife habitats of it’s two golf courses. Congressional strives to improve efficiency while minimizing potentially harmful operational impacts, making it a world-class golf experience.
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) is an education and certification program that helps golf courses protect the environment, preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf, and gain recognition for their efforts. The ACSP assists golf course members to take stock of its environmental resources and any potential liabilities, and then develop a plan that fits its unique setting, goals, staff, budget, and time. Audubon International awards certification to recognize golf courses that meet the environmental management standards outlined in their environmental plans. Certification demonstrates a course’s leadership, commitment, and high standards of environmental management.
Water is perhaps the most valuable natural resource to any golf course. Congressional Country Club recognizes the need to conserve and has given priority to water conservation. Congressional has also adopted a “Firm and Fast” philosophy for the playability of the golf courses. A centralized computer collects moisture and other information from soil probes along the tees, fairways, and greens. Based on this information staff determine watering needs and ensure efficient irrigation.
“Our firm and fast philosophy has helped prepare our courses for the National Championship while also benefiting the environment,” states Dave Hutchinson, Superintendent of Greens and Grounds for Congressional Country Club.
To involve members and increase course appeal, Congressional Country Club began a Bluebird Nest Box project shortly after joining the ACSP. Unfortunately the initial boxes were not visible to golfers and interest quickly waned. However, in 2001 the staff set out to provide shelter for bluebirds in locations that would make them visible to golfers and to get members involved in the building, monitoring, and maintenance of the nest boxes. The project was a great success! Thus far, members assembled, installed, and monitored twelve nest boxes. Each box had at least one brood and over 75 fledglings were recorded.
“We have always been proud of our magnificent property located just outside the Capitol Beltway. It is our goal to provide a safe habitat for native wildlife to thrive right on the doorstep to the “Most Powerful City in the World,” states Hutchinson.
The staff and members of Congressional Country Club should be proud of their achievements. Not only have the maintained and improved such a prestigious course that is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the United States (Golf Digest) and hosted several elite golf tournaments, but they are striving to do all that with the least impact on the environment. On June 13, 2011, 56 players will compete at Congressional, as it plays host to its third U.S. Open.
About Congressional Country Club
Established in 1924 to provide a recreational space where legislators and businessmen could meet informally, Congressional hosted names such as Hoover, Coolidge, Harding, Taft, Firestone, Carnegie, and Chrysler. In the years since, the country club continues to make history in tournament golf by hosting several elite golf tournaments. Congressional Country Club joins over eight hundred golf courses throughout the world working with Audubon International through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.