On the national and local level, golf courses have faced criticism for excessive use of natural resources. The Audubon Cooperative sanctuary program hears your complaints and wants to help. Starting with using a million gallons of water a month during the summer, it’s warranted. Going into the lesser scrutinized destroying of natural habitats or clearing trees, it’s all related.
As society pushes towards being more supportive of our environment, programs have taken form. And as we’ve become increasingly aware of how our actions affect the Earth, initiatives have expanded. You’d be hard pressed to find better environmental preservation than in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.
Let’s walk through it and see if there’s any way you can affect change in your area. You don’t have to be a superintendent or club pro to jump on board. We all have the ability to make a change and education is a great place to start.
What is the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program?
Participating in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program does not mean a bad course that is good for the environment. In reality, it’s just the opposite. Your course can be beautiful and eco-conscious. Being a member of the ACSP for Golf Program is a mutually beneficial partnership with an eco-conscious organization. The fact that they’ll help your course improve visually and financially is a cherry on top.
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program involves education and a certification that preserves natural areas and resources. This is not something that happens overnight, but takes one to three years to complete. In taking the proper time to get things done, it ensures a lasting commitment to sustainability and preservation.
In with the good, out with the bad. ACSP encourages golf courses to reduce water usage in a calculated fashion and avoid chemical use when possible. This program also goes hand-in-hand with planning for the future. The future involves following safety protocols and supporting the environment surrounding the course.
What does the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program do?
The ACSP was established in 1991, steadily growing in terms of courses involved and project scope. Today it includes more than 2300 golf courses around the world and focuses on a number of key areas.
No course can be certified without meeting environmental management standards in each of the fields below:
- Environmental Planning
- Wildlife and Habitat Management
- Chemical Use Reduction and Safety
- Water Conservation
- Water Quality Management
- Outreach and Education
As you might have guessed, this isn’t as simple as using less water and growing a bit of fescue. Not even close. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program works with golf courses to ensure that even though they are taking up large tracts of land, they are building and sustaining an environment that supports our present and future.
Getting off the ground with ACSP takes a little bit of time. But, this is an investment well worth the time of any golf course willing to participate. In order to maintain an ACSP certification, an Audubon International employee will come by the course every three years. On their visit, they’ll check that your plan is still in place and being practiced. Basically, if the course is currently certified, it’s keeping up its end of the bargain.
Why is this program necessary?
Golf hurts the environment. Almost everything we do hurts the environment. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program is a step in recognizing that the game loved by so many needs changing if we want to continue enjoying it in the decades to come. And no, we’re not just talking about places like Augusta finally allowing women or ditching the notion golf is only for the rich. We’re talking about real, eco-conscious change that benefits more than the courses we play on. We need change that benefits the entire community the course resides in.
I’m not a scientist and I won’t pretend to be. Even without a minute of training in environmental studies, I know that our planet is facing an uphill battle with climate change. We can no longer afford to do things that harm our planet just for the sake of doing them. While we can place a lot of blame for this on the ignorance of previous generations, we no longer have this luxury.
Everyone always says to plan for the future. When it comes to environmental preservation and conservation of limited resources, the future started yesterday. We are behind and need to do something today. Initiatives such as the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program are a good first step, but we need to go further.
The Future of Golf
Over 2300 courses in the world have gone through ACSP’s process, but there are more than 16000 in the United States alone. Some are responsible for their effect on the environment, others are not. Apple has grown so large you cannot ignore the iPhone. We hope that the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program becomes so prominent in the golf community that courses cannot avoid it at all.
For a golf course considering adopting some of these practices, think deeper. There’s a reason Millennials and Gen Z pay more for biodegradable products and environmentally friendly packaging—they care about the Earth. Transitive property tells us that they’ll pay more to golf on a course that embodies the principles of preservation. These generations are the future of golf—cater to them.
Where can I find more information about the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program?
We do not have a complete list of every golf course that participates in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. However, most courses that are involved are sure to let people know. On the state level, there are plenty of publications that collect this information.
On the Audubon International website, they’ve highlighted a few success stories. Even though the number of courses they talk about is limited, you’ll get the idea. It’s difficult to measure the number of human and animal lives enriched by this program. What you need to know is that it’s more than the number of courses.
A sign of the spread and support of Audubon International, USGA has hopped on the bandwagon. They offer their support by making knowledge of the program more accessible and using their reach to spread awareness of the issues on hand.
If you want to find more information about ACSP and the fantastic work they’re doing, you don’t have to look too hard. I guess that’s the benefit of running a sustainability program during a time when eco and social consciousness is on the rise; people pay attention.
What if I don’t want to go through the entire program and certification process?
We understand that going through a full certification process isn’t for everyone and every golf course. What we don’t understand is why you wouldn’t be trying to make some effort to implement the ideals of this program.
Audubon International wants to reach as many golf courses as possible. With this in mind, they’ve created a comprehensive guide on Environmental Management Practices for Golf Courses. It won’t take one to three years to read through this guide. But, it will tell you a lot of the information you would have learned while going through the certification process.
The guide is broken down into a few different sections that will help you outline a plan to help your local golf course. Whether you’re a greenskeeper or regular golfer, there is enough information here to assess the needs of your course. Take these needs and put together a plan. After, you can present it to those around you, beginning your pursuit of preservation. This will also double as pressuring those around you to jump onboard—it’s necessary.