Friday, June 29, 2012

Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program

As a demonstration of IGM's commitment to the environment, our team is seeks to establish each of the properties we serve as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. IGM is a Charter Member of Audubon’s Conservation Country Club and has committed and maintained 100% participation of all its courses in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP). To date, IGM has completed certification of 13 courses across the country. One of IGM's certified courses, Widow's Walk Golf Course, is an environmental research center built to assess the impact of golf course maintenance practices on the environment.
Naturalized or native area

There are five basic steps for completing the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program’s process - analysis, documentation, implementation, evaluation and revision.

The golf course environmental assessment is the initial step in the process of creating an ecosystem-based Golf Course Management Plan. Properly completing the assessment is paramount to the long-term compatibility of a property’s golf course management practices with the Golf Course Environmental Management Program’s goals and objectives.

Through constant monitoring and updating documentation, the golf course will remain in compliance beyond the regular restrictions put in place by regulatory agencies and Audubon International.

It is not enough to know the keys to a successful golf course management program. There must be a written record of existing site data, opportunities, constraints and historical maintenance practices that documents where we have been as well as assists in helping us choose where we need to go. The Program consists both of a report and an outline that maps the daily management of the course according to the environmental stewardship goals set by the IGM and Audubon International. The report and outline also provide a convenient method to help educate and involve the course's customers and the community.

Action is really the only true measure of success in a solid Golf Course Environmental Management Program. By implementing new practices, whether to knowingly improve the course's role in the environmental stewardship or just trying new ideas to determine their value, will not only benefit the good manager, but also the image of the property and the ability to market the course in such a manner.

Dead tree was topped but left standing to provide
habitat for woodpeckers

With proper environmental management, the course has a great opportunity to use this attention to draw exposure and positive press to the course.  IGM has had great exposure for caring for the environment both on and off the golf course. The implementation of a proper Golf Course Environmental Management Program can be a key differentiation point to set your golf course above its competition.

In order to ensure the highest quality of customer service, the IGM staff conducts continual internal-evaluation and improvement research at the course level.  There will be on-going measurement of the environmental impact the management programs have on the course. For example, documenting the reduced use of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation can be used to demonstrate the overall value of the Program. This can be easily accomplished by regularly evaluating our maintenance methods, practices, and management approaches to day-to-day issues.

The very nature of a superior program implies that all documents be regularly updated and maintained to represent the most current conditions. IGM’s golf course managers and superintendents should be constantly looking for ways to improve their processes. Acting on lessons learned is right behind initial implementation as the most important aspect of a successful Program. The plan should be completely updated at least every two years.

Highlights & Successes

Underbrush left where possible to provide cover for wildlife
Our successes are measured almost daily by our team in many ways. Some of the accomplishments that we are most proud of:

-          Complete participation of all maintained properties in ACSP

-          Assisted in ACSP certification of 13 courses

-          An additional 18 courses are nearing ACSP certification with all others working towards that goal

-          Team members have received dozens of awards and recognition for Environmental Planning and Environmental Stewardship

-          Meadowbrook/IGM CEO Mr. Ron Jackson served three years on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Institute for Golf

Our efforts are collaborative with our clients and represent our desire to go above and beyond standard maintenance practices to get results - this results in sustainability.