Classic Sanctuary

About the Classic Sanctuary Program

The Classic Sanctuary Program is for existing golf courses and properties that are planning or undergoing a redevelopment, renovation, expansion, or master plan of any size while maintaining the same use. The Classic Sanctuary Program is also an excellent opportunity for ACSP for Golf and ACSP program members to enhance their certification to a more exclusive and involved program.  Audubon International understands the complexities in maximizing the existing quality of the property while balancing the need for long-term environmental health.

For information about joining the
Classic Sanctuary Program
Please contact Kat Findlay at

518-767-9051 x124 or

Redeveloping for the Environment

Members of the Classic Program must meet minimum program requirements, plus any additional site-specific requirements identified by Audubon International. In the process of seeking certification, members host several site visits, submit monthly project progress reports, and implement a Classic Property Management Plan (CPMP). Standards for certification are equivalent to those of the Signature Program, and are subject to a final on-site audit of the property.

The property manager or superintendent will be the key contact for Audubon International. Proper construction and subsequent operation of the property in a sustainable manner consistent with the CPMP is key to the success of this program. To become a Certified Audubon Classic Sanctuary, a property must meet the general minimum requirements applicable to all members. In addition, the properties must meet additional site-specific conditions and requirements that are reasonable considering site specific resources, features, facilities, and other circumstances.

These additional conditions and requirements are identified and negotiated with the property owner and manager during development of the CPMP and other environmental stewardship planning documents for the property. A project that complies with the minimum requirements for all Classic projects and meets applicable site-specific requirements is designated as a Certified Audubon Classic Sanctuary.

These additional requirements are identified and negotiated with the property owner and manager during development of the CPMP and other environmental stewardship planning documents for the property. A project that complies with the minimum requirements for all Classic projects and meets applicable site-specific requirements is designated as a Certified Audubon Classic Sanctuary.


"Working with Audubon International and fully embracing their ideology has opened up a new frontier in effective and efficient management, whether it be in golf or other areas. Audubon International and its team of professionals were not only knowledgeable, but were always ready and happy to help and work with us hand in hand in all aspects of the journey of understanding and executing the Audubon ideology. Our organization and staff benefited much from adopting the Audubon concept as it teaches the company to cost-effective and operationally efficient; moreover, the concept can be applied in our personal lives. Thank you Audubon International!!"

- Chai Shui, former Director of Tianjin

Pearl Beach Golf Course

Benefits of Membership

Becoming a Certified Audubon Sanctuary saves members money and natural resources, according to the most recent survey of members of the Audubon Signature and Classic Programs. Members considered operational costs, up front investments, and the importance of the program in marketing and promotion. Results include:

  • 90% of respondents reported that they believed annual maintenance and operations costs for their facility were either “lower than” or the “same as” the costs of an equivalent, non-Signature member golf course.
  • 43% of respondents felt that these operations and maintenance costs were actually lower due to their participation in the Signature Program.
  • 96% view their participation in the Signature Program as “a good business decision,” with the remaining 4% indicating that they “Don’t Know” at this time.
  • 63% of respondents stated that participation in the Signature Program, including up front monetary and staff investment in the program, has or will save money, as compared to a course designed, constructed, and managed without Audubon International assistance, with 20% of the remaining respondents stating that they “Don’t Know” at this time.
  • 90% stated that they believed the Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary status earned through following the program guidelines has or will have value in marketing and promotional efforts.

Additional benefits of certification in the Signature and Classic programs include:

“Green appeal” marketing edge - Certified Audubon Signature properties have a market advantage in attracting the growing number of people looking for “green” developments in which to live and recreate.  Certification offers a distinct marketing edge over the competition–often supporting increased or faster sales, increased sales prices or member fees, and lower marketing and holding costs.

Operation and maintenance cost savings - Most members find that in achieving certification, they have learned and put into practice more cost-effective ways to develop and manage their properties, thus saving money, as well as natural resources.

Reduced risk - Following best management practices outlined in the NRMP reduces the risk of harm and potential liability from the use of hazardous materials and reduces the potential for on- and off-site pollution. Reduced risks in turn lower insurance and worker’s compensation costs, potential for adverse regulatory action and harmful publicity, and lost worker time.

Recognition for environmental leadership - Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuaries gain local, national, and international recognition for leadership in environmental stewardship.  A certified Signature property stands as a model providing encouragement and good example for other landowners and managers, consultants, and the community at large to make future land management decisions based on the environment, not just the economic, values of the land.

Environmental protection and enhancement - Owners and managers of certified Audubon Signature properties can take great pride in doing their part to further sustainable resource management and protect and preserve the environment for this and future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can join the Classic Sanctuary Program?

The Classic Sanctuary Program is open to golf courses, golf communities, golf resorts, and other property types undergoing any size renovation, restoration, or a master plan.

How long will the certification process take? Will it hold up construction?

The certification from start to finish typically takes one to three years.  The time-frame is dependent on the project size, speed of construction, and conformity with the program requirements.  After the initial visit/site walk-through, the team will have a better expectation of the timeline.


No aspect of the program will hold up construction activities on the property.

Will the entire property be certified or just the area being renovated?

Yes, the entire property, including the maintenance facility and clubhouse will be certified after they meet the minimum requirements of the program.

Can a golf course not undergoing renovation join the program?

Yes, golf courses that are not undergoing renovation but that the owner and the Audubon International Classic Sanctuary Director feel will meet all the requirements of the Classic Sanctuary Program may join.  There may still be upgrades that are required to achieve final certification.

What are the minimum program requirements?

  • Maintain a qualified property/project manager in charge of Classic Sanctuary Program compliance throughout any reconstruction or restoration, as well as during operation and maintenance, of the property.
  • Follow the provisions of the Classic Property Management Plan (CPMP) throughout any reconstruction or restoration of the property, as well as operation and maintenance of the property.
  • Identify and protect wildlife and habitats, during and after any reconstruction or restoration, as well as during operation and maintenance of the property.
  • Protect water quality, which includes installing or maintaining a proper drainage system, during and after any reconstruction or restoration, as well as during operation and maintenance, of the property. 
  • Design, in the case of reconstruction or restoration, and manage the property in a manner that minimizes intensive maintenance and non-renewable resource use in its management.
  • Use turfgrass suitable for the ecological region in which the property is located. 
  • Prepare and use a proper Integrated Pest Management Plan. 
  • Install or maintain a proper irrigation system. 
  • For a property that conducts its own property maintenance services with vehicles and equipment stored or maintained on site, provide and maintain a proper Natural Resource Management Center (i.e. maintenance facility). 
  • Once certified, provide signage or other Audubon International-approved means of notifying the public – or if a private membership development, the membership – of the status of the property development as a certified Audubon Classic Sanctuary. 

How many site visits will be made to my property?

Audubon International will make a total of two site visits to your property. One will be an initial kick-off meeting before construction activities and the other will be conducted when the project is completed to evaluate final certification as a Certified Audubon Classic Sanctuary. The member is responsible for all expenses incurred during the visits.  Once certified, Audubon International will conduct a recertification site visit every three years.

When will my property be eligible for recertification and why should I recertify?

Classic Sanctuary Program members are eligible for recertification every three years, at which time an Audubon International staff member will conduct a site visit. Audubon International provides education and technical assistance during renovation and management of the project. The recertification process allows you to make continuous improvements and to have access to our staff and educational assistance.