News and Information
Environmental Stewardship at Birmingham Country Club
One of the first building blocks for any environmental plan is to conduct an assessment of your current status. This assessment will lead to a list of prioritized actions or steps that will become the cornerstone of your environmental programs. Tavis Horton the assistant golf course superintendent at the Birmingham Country Club gives us a great look at how the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program was utilized with success at the Birmingham Country Club. Their story is a 360 degree look at environmental stewardship beginning with their assessment and then on into their work toward sustainability. Also, their story reminds us that there are great programs that exist to help us keep golf “green”.
This case study is full of useful information with detailed lists of expenses and projects. Be sure to review the three year Priority Action Plan that highlights 21 items that range from implementing a drift management plan to researching well logs with the Oakland Health Department. Tavis also shares some excellent photos from their project that add considerable take home value to this case study.
In addition, Tavis talks candidly through several sensitive environmental aspects of the golf maintenance operation giving clear and orderly examples of properly closing out used fuel tanks and providing comparative details involving areas like biological treatment wash stations versus the more economical “dog leash” wash system. There are many impressive items in this case study that will make you think about your current level of environmental stewardship.
Personally, I think the take home message for me is twofold. First, that the Michigan Turgrass Environmental Stewardship Program is a voluntary program that is user friendly and results oriented. Second, that Tavis Horton and the entire staff of the Birmingham Country Club executed this program to a very high level.
Tavis Horton, assistant superintendent at Birmingham Country Club, is without a doubt an environmental leader in the golf industry. His passion and commitment to be in compliance with environmental laws, protect our natural resources and implement environmentally sound practices are clearly manifested in the quality of work he conducts on a daily basis. Tavis was one of the first superintendents to participate in the Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program (MTESP) and he wasted no time taking the necessary steps to get his course certified in the program.
Becoming certified in the MTESP is a straight forward process which includes a review of educational modules and a self assessment process designed to help the superintendent determine where the property needs to gain compliance. Modules contain information on regulated areas such as fuel storage, emergency response, wellhead protection, and pesticide and fertilizer handling, storage and application. Additional modules go beyond what is required by law to provide guidance on equipment washing practices such as buffer strips, irrigation practices and a selection of environmentally preferred products. Combined, these modules set the framework for the development of a comprehensive environmental action plan to be implemented by management at a pace that is feasible given their level of financial and human resources.
To help golf courses achieve certification in the most cost effective fashion, on-site visits are conducted by a MTESP specialist along with the golf course superintendent. This provides an exceptional opportunity to exchange ideas on how to make improvements efficiently and it also connects the superintendent with the appropriate person or business to address course specific action items. It comes as a surprise to many, that the majority of improvements at a property often cost far less than what was originally imagined. As part of the field staff’s responsibility, they continually seek reasonable solutions for environmental projects that meet state requirements and further protect, enhance and conserve natural resources.
Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program certification is celebrated by awarding the superintendent with a certificate signed by representatives from the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality, Michigan State University, Golf Association of Michigan, Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, and the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association. In addition to receiving significant recognition from these organizations, this accomplishment provides financial rewards and a platform to let clients and the community know that you’re doing the right thing and the environment truly matters.