Conveniently located near a residential area in Aurora, King’s Riding Golf Club offers the chance to play a well-maintained course nestled in nature. As is the case with many ClubLink courses, King’s Riding is certified with Audubon International. Through this certification, natural habitat was expanded and areas were taken out of play, especially along the creek on the property. In 2005/2006 the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority helped course operators plant more local species and naturalize more areas. These areas require minimal maintenance which not only reduces costs and the need for inputs, but also contribute to the beauty of the course and provide creature habitat. Creatures currently inhabiting the King’s Riding property include wild turkeys, fishers, coyotes, river otters, rabbits, red tail hawks, deer and snapping turtles (which are endangered). Ponds on the course provide a home to minnows and sunfish. King’s Riding is also evaluating the possibility of installing pollinator gardens to expand bee-friendly habitat.
At King’s Riding, many practices are used to grow healthy turf and enrich the soil. These include the use of natural products such as humic acid, and testing. Reducing thatch helps eliminate disease and makes nutrients and water more accessible to turf grass. Aeration is one of the practices that reduces thatch. Regular visual inspection and knowledge of course conditions allows course operators to proactively treat disease and insect infestations. In turn, all of these practices reduce the need for chemical and water inputs. The more knowledge that is gathered about the health of the plants and soil, the more course operators can use turf-care methods that are targeted and effective. For example, tissue testing allows them to selectively choose a fertilizer that matches the turf needs exactly. More and more, products being offered can be customized to meet exact requirements.
In line with the ClubLink corporate focus on water conservation and water quality protection, King’s Riding operators closely monitor all water use. Watering is done on a “wilt basis,” something that actually strengthens the grass plant by driving root growth. This then makes turf more drought resistant. Irrigation systems have been upgraded with newer heads, moisture metres are used on greens to carefully assess water needs, and hand watering is used often to target only areas that need moisture. Golf carts used on the course are all electric, contributing to air quality.
As a ClubLink property, operators have access to an extensive network of colleagues to discuss practices and problem solve turf-management challenges. IPM recertification events also provide the opportunity for staff to learn of new practices.