Environmentally friendly golf courses

Greening the greens

A neon-hued bluebird darts into a palm tree, its colour echoing Bermuda’s Fairmont Southampton’s ocean views. Elk graze near Alberta’s Fairmont Banff Springs’ and Jasper Park Lodge’s greens, where native wildflowers blossom amid the roughs. And, at Manitoba’s Clear Lake Golf Course, a triplex mower passes golfers and there’s a whiff of … French fries?

“It’s biodiesel transformed locally from used cooking oil,” says Greg Holden, superintendent at Clear Lake, located in Riding Mountain National Park.

Clipping containers are a common sight here. “We’re turning waste into resources. Weekly, we’re gathering 2,500 pounds of clippings from 20 greens.” Through composting, they’ve already reduced landfill waste by 85 per cent.

Clear Lake joins the ranks of other leading courses such as Alberta's Fairmont fairways that are adopting measures such as using organic pesticides and improved water-management techniques. The latter is crucial in Bermuda, where rainfall provides the only source of fresh water on-island, making courses firmer and challenging to play.

In 1990, Fairmont introduced its “Greening Our Greens” initiative. So far, eight of its properties have earned full certification in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System. To achieve certification, golf courses must comply with guidelines on everything from environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management to integrating how they manage pests, water quality and conservation, as well as outreach and education.

The golf industry is embracing environmental stewardship across the board. And, by playing on greener greens, golfers can make a difference to the environment.