The City of Nashville is synonymous with entertainment, country music and southern hospitality…but to many people’s surprise, Nashville also boasts many prestigious golf venues. Only a few miles from the hustle and bustle of NASHVILLE’S Broadway, lies an 18-hole golf course that is synonymous with environmental stewardship, Marriott’s Gaylord Springs Golf Links.
“Our goal here at Gaylord Springs Golf Links is to provide a championship quality golf course all while creating habitat for the diverse wildlife we have on property. The Nashville metro area is growing at a record pace and the demand for public golf is at an all-time high. This growth has also reduced habitat surrounding the golf course and in recent years we have seen an influx in wildlife calling our course home. We strive to be the example showing how a golf course doesn’t destroy habitat but can help to enhance it through the proper practices. Being located on the banks of the Cumberland River water quality and the reduction of irrigation water usage is a high priority. We hope that golfers not only come to our course to enjoy the playing conditions but also take in all the scenery and wildlife that we have to offer.”– Chris Reavis, Assistant Superintendent, Marriott Gaylord Springs Golf Links
The Scottish links-style course is nestled alongside the Cumberland River and borders numerous wetlands. Marriott Golf recognizes their sensitive location and makes tremendous efforts to operate in a sustainable fashion. So much so that the Marriott Golf team pursued and achieved certification as an Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf. In 2019, Gaylord Springs Golf Links became an environmental leader amongst the city’s public golf courses and successfully achieved certification in all 6 ACSP for Golf focus areas: environmental planning, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, water quality management, wildlife and habitat management, and outreach and education. Most recently, the course underwent a recertification site visit by Audubon International staff.
Wildlife on the course
While playing Gaylord Springs Golf Links be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any one of the 30+ species that can be seen including eagles, Carolina chickadees, blue-winged teals, and many more raptors and songbirds. Supplemental habitat structures like blue bird and owl boxes, along with an osprey platform can be seen throughout. These structures are monitored regularly by staff and play a crucial role in restoring and maintaining the local populations of these species. But that’s not all…you’ll also find bats calling the limestone bluffs home and numerous small mammals that utilize the brush piles and fallen trees in out-of-play areas.
The property’s habitat varies and the extensive wetlands provide critical habitat for amphibians, fish and over twenty beavers found on the property! Even though beavers have the ability to destabilize and degrade banks, Gaylord Springs leaves nature’s engineers to contribute to the varying habitats throughout the course.
Best Management Practices Reduce Inputs
One of the most responsible measures a golf course can make is to incorporate Best Management Practices (BMPs) into their day-to-day management. These efforts reduce the property’s environmental footprint by following responsible practices such as reducing pesticide and water use. To accomplish this, Gaylord Springs transitioned 6-acres of managed turf to drought and disease tolerant native grasses. This effort will not only minimize inputs but also expands habitat and food sources for many native species. In addition, during the cooler months, the property chooses not to overseed turf, thereby minimizing cultural practices and reducing irrigation requirements.
Many golf courses across the country are stepping up and recognizing that the game of golf has a unique opportunity to provide green space in urban and developing areas. Thanks to the outstanding efforts and commitment of Superintendent, Chris Young, Assistant Superintendent, Chris Reavis, and Senior Director of Golf Grounds at Marriott Golf, David Robinson, Gaylord Springs Golf Links is a remarkable example of how sustainable management practices help golf courses become seamless extensions of nature.
To learn more about how your golf course, resort or community can gain recognition for your environmental efforts and learn how to expand your initiatives through Audubon International’s numerous environmental certifications, visit www.auduboninternational.org.
Audubon International, an environmentally focused non-profit organization, offers members numerous certifications and conservation initiatives to protect the areas where we live, work, and play. Their certifications are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both their members and their communities.