As anyone in the northeastern U.S. (and other northerly points) can attest, this past winter ended up “lingering” for a time (I’m really starting to think that Punxsutawney Phil may not know as much about predicting the weather as we’ve been led to believe all these years). So, when the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) asked me to come down to Reynolds Plantation (Greensboro, GA) and speak at their annual meeting it was not hard to accept the invitation. Not only did the late-April weather more than exceed my expectations, but the meeting itself was very enjoyable and highly productive.

The ASGCA annual meeting is the seminal event for interaction, innovation and education relating to golf course architecture and design in the U.S., and it was a great honor to be invited to speak about the environmental education and certification programs that Audubon International has been delivering on golf courses for over two decades. 

Reynolds Plantation and the surrounding area are well known for its distinctive natural features (Lake Oconee, mature pine forests, scenic vistas, abundant wildlife, and more), and any visitor will come to quickly understand why golfers and other guests come from far and wide to enjoy the local golf courses (all six of which are certified members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses!) and other outdoor recreational opportunities.

In addition to the formal presentation I was invited to give, attending the meeting enabled me to speak with a wide range of golf course architects and designers (ASGCA members and non-members alike) about the benefits of registering planned new and redesigned golf courses in the Audubon Signature and Classic Programs. Many of the folks I spoke with have designed courses in the past that became certified members in our program, and had very positive remarks to pass on regarding the long-time director of our Signature and Classic Program, Nancy Richardson. Anyone who knows Nancy knows that she is a top-notch professional with extensive knowledge and expertise that adds considerable value to membership in the programs she administers. 

It was very encouraging to have so many attendees at the meeting (including a number of folks who haven’t worked with us on certification in the past) tell me they plan to register their next project in the Signature Program. They expressed a genuine excitement over the many benefits that membership in our program can provide, including greater potential for environmental protection (what you might call “preventativemedicine”), greater long-term operating and capital cost savings than can be achieved by certifying a golf course after it has been designed and constructed, accelerated permitting (the technical credibility and reputation of our organization is positively received by local planning boards), and enhanced opportunities to effectively engage area stakeholders from “day one” to reduce the likelihood of conflicts.

I really can’t say enough about the professionalism and overall “good-natured-ness” of the ASGCA staff members. The organization’s Executive Director, Chad Ritterbusch, has surrounded himself with some truly stellar folks. The ASGCA is also fortunate to have very capable leadership in the form of Bob Cupp (outgoing president), Rick Robbins (incoming president) and other officers. ASCGA staff, leadership and members understand the importance of sustainable natural resource management, andAudubon International looks forward to partnering on a wide range of fronts in the near future to advance goals of mutual interest.

Very re-energizing after a long winter! 

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