Eco-Friendly Golf Course
Tour a golf course that’s also a wildlife sanctuary.
Courtesy of HGTV.com
You could say that golfing at this course has gone to the birds…and the fish, the foxes and the coyotes, too. But then, that’s the point. Golf courses like Tournament Players Club (TPC) Michigan are working hard to create courses that are not only great for the golfers but right on par for the environment.
Under the shadow of Ford Motor Company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, on land Henry Ford purchased in 1915, is an eco-friendly championship golf course. It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago, this area was nothing more than a dump site. According to Tim O’Brien, the Director of the Environmental Quality Office at Ford Motor Company, “This used to be a pretty neglected flood plain of the Rouge River. A very convenient place for way too many years for people to throw away things they didn’t want anymore. So what we did was restore something in terms of habitat, wildlife homes that years ago used to be that kind of place and once again is today.”
To begin the restoration process, TPC brought in Jack Nicklaus to help with the design of the course. Audubon International also offered direction and guidelines and eventually certified the course as a wildlife sanctuary. The golf course is the world’s first golf course to receive the prestigious John James Audubon Environmental Steward Award in recognition of its ecological restoration.
It’s a big job to maintain this 212-acre, eco-friendly course while players are trying to hit the green. They have to “think green.” Being respectful to wildlife is only half the recipe for success. Conserving the amount of water used goes hand in hand with protecting the environment.
Every day, core samples are taken to determine whether or not the grounds will be watered that night. Instead of wasting water with timers like most courses, they feel they’re better off with the “pencil method,” which involves actually sticking a pencil into the ground and pulling it out to see if the wood part is wet. It’s really very simple. They have reduced watering by 30 percent overall.
As far as pesticides go, TPC scouts areas for symptoms of disease or insects. Then they consider using a pesticide, but they rarely use a preventive application. The same philosophy is used when it comes to fertilizing. Samples of the soil are taken to determine what exact nutrients the turf needs. And whenever possible grass clippings are left to decompose naturally on the turf.
Naturally, the golf course has a lot of plants native to Michigan, such as viburnums, which produce berries for feeding the wildlife, and a lot of grasses, which they let grow to about six to eight inches.
TPC Michigan is a precision golf course in a now-pristine environment — a true win-win result.
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