Why Should Golf Clubs Pursue Audubon International Certification?

From Club + Resort Business https://clubandresortbusiness.com/why-should-golf-clubs-pursue-audubon-international-certification/

The golf course, resort and community at The St. Regis Bahia Beach in Puerto Rico are all Audubon International certified

Audubon International provides information and guidance to help golf course personnel with six key environmental components: Site Assessment / Environmental Planning; Wildlife and Habitat Management; Chemical Use Reduction and Safety; Water Conservation; Water Quality Management; and Outreach and Education.

By Frank LaVardera, Audubon International Director of Environmental Programs for Golf

There is no hiding from it. When it comes to the golf course industry and its relationship with the environment, the overall perception is typically quite negative. Fair or unfair, it is often assumed that golf courses regularly use large consumptions of water and chemicals, degrade water quality and cause a deterioration of wildlife habitat.

Frank LaVardera

When Audubon International launched over 30 years ago, one of the primary goals was to help alter this adverse reputation by educating golf courses about sustainability and the protection of natural resources, and communicate, support and foster an understanding about best practices.

To that end, the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for Golf, an award-winning education and certification program, was created to aid golf courses in enhancing valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide, improve efficiency, and minimize potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations.

The ACSP assists each golf course member in determining its environmental resources and any potential liabilities, and then works with them to develop a plan that fits its unique setting, goals, staff, budget and schedule.

Audubon International provides information and guidance to help golf course personnel with six key environmental components:
• Site Assessment/Environmental Planning
• Wildlife and Habitat Management
• Chemical Use Reduction and Safety
• Water Conservation
• Water Quality Management
• Outreach and Education

Securing certification is relatively seamless and affordable – the annual certified member fee is currently $500. Following the completion of the six environmental items above, courses receive a site visit from an Audubon International staff member to review technical components. Recertification is required every three years and alternates between a backup documentation review and site visits.

According to our member surveys, there is concrete evidence that the ACSP certification process is effective on many levels. Eighty percent of our nearly 1,000 member certified courses all over the world decrease the amount of managed turfgrass, 56% increase the width of “no-spray zones” around water features, and 99% report that turf quality remained the same or even improved as a result.

As a result, our certified courses reap many benefits. First and foremost, there is an ethical satisfaction that comes with being a true steward of the environment. Not surprisingly, we have discovered that the large majority of the golf course superintendents we work with were already very serious about sustainable management, so our program is welcomed with open arms.

Additionally, most club members and daily fee golfers these days are much more environmentally conscious and strongly favor courses that use these best practices, so we are not only helping the environment, but we’re giving our customers something they desire. Finally, there are “bottom line” advantages, as most of our certified members report they save up to 15% on their maintenance and management budget when they implement our program.

Simply put, pursuing and securing an Audubon International certification is truly a win-win for all parties involved, from the course operators and their employees to the golfers who tee it up on a regular basis to the precious wildlife to Mother Earth herself.