ASGCA President Reflects On Environmental Progress

Designing golf courses in concert with the environment isn’t just good for flora and fauna; it also enhances golfer enjoyment and provides developers with financial incentives. So said ASGCA President Bill Love recently during a meeting of environmental leaders in Lawrence, Kan.

“Golf course architects, builders and superintendents have become much more environmentally proactive over the past 20 years, incorporating principles of responsible stewardship into golf courses,” explained the College Park, Md. architect. Love commended the efforts of the Environmental Institute of Golf in gathering data, particularly in water quality and habitat monitoring. “The data gathering process is critical to helping us make better informed environmental decisions for our golf courses.”

For more than a decade, Love has led the ASGCA Environmental Committee, which was formed in 1970 before the advent of the Environmental Protection Agency. He says the golf industry has done a solid job of recognizing and acting upon its responsibility to the environment but that improvement is always possible.

“We’ve been advocates for good environmental practices, but we certainly recognize the opportunity to do more,” he said. “In speaking with other ASGCA members, we will see continuing progress, especially in employing design techniques that utilize best management practices in construction and maintenance.

“Architects will also continue to strive to reduce maintenance costs without compromising the quality of course conditions,” he continued. “In doing so, we want to have an impact on the public perception of what a golf course should look like. Brown isn’t necessarily bad.”

The ASGCA President explained that today’s developers are considering environmental issues as important as playability and other issues of design. “Smart developers realize that it’s about a lot more than just being a good steward of land. Minimizing the time and money involved in the permitting process helps complete a project on time and on budget”

He summarizes the “triple bottom line” of today’s golf courses.

  • Better environment – Golf courses that are intelligently designed, built and maintained are enhancing their local environments by promoting water quality, wildlife habitat and greenspace preservation.
  • Better golf experience – Golf course design that utilizes what the land naturally offers often provides a more enjoyable playing experience.
  • Better financial return – The permitting process can be highly complex and costly for golf course developers; however, a seasoned architect can help provide innovative solutions to permitting challenges. Environmentally sensitive golf courses serve as valuable amenities to enhance a community.

Love notes that golf course owners and developers are wise to assemble a team of experts; that team should include a qualified golf course architect. ASGCA members have designed at least five golf courses and passed a rigorous peer review process in order to obtain membership.

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