Environmental practices good for the bottom line at Willow Greens Golf
During a recent conversation with Willow Greens Golf Centre operators, it became apparent that turf management practices which are good for the environment are also good for business.
Since taking over the operation of Willow Greens this April, the new operators have expanded the naturalized area of the course. The benefits of this include the creation of a more pleasing environment, development of a defined path for golfing and reduced fuel, manpower, water and chemical input costs. Furthermore, naturalized landscape hosts more wildlife, which enhances the golf experience. Willow Greens golf operators also make sure to preserve milkweed plants to support populations of monarch butterflies.
Turf management requires a lot of expertise. Operators must be knowledgeable about disease, local climate and micro climate conditions, preventative maintenance and a variety of methods that support turf health. A core aerator is one of the new tools used to build healthy soil and turf at Willow Greens Golf. Information about golf course management methods is widely available, but knowing how to apply them at courses that vary in size, location, and other factors requires experience. As a result, golf operators often reach out to colleagues in the industry to problem solve and share ideas.
As required by law, all golf courses follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) guidelines, which include requirements for regular upgrading and education. Yet in practice, IPM practices are also good for the bottom line. At Willow Greens, reduced need for chemicals for course maintenance is viewed as something that helps drive down costs, reduces the need for employees to handle chemicals, and may even lessen equipment requirements. Thus, applications are carefully considered, are highly targeted, and are focused primarily on the putting greens where play is most affected by weeds and disease. The Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Authority (PMRA) regularly reviews the safety of chemicals and is, over time, phasing in newer formulations that are pest-specific and contain lower amounts of active ingredients. Regular government reviews are forcing technology to move ahead.
To conserve water last year, Willow Greens turned off all irrigation systems except for those on the greens. Rainfall this year has naturally reduced the need for irrigation. Water is taken from a pond on the property that recharges in the winter and therefore Willow Greens operators are used to working with a finite source of water. The use of a computerized irrigation system allows individual heads to be turned on and off as needed, and for watering to be precisely timed.
If golfers have any questions about environmental practices, the operators at Willow Greens are happy to engage in an open dialogue. Recent questions about the naturalization have allowed them to explain the good reasons behind this transition.
Along with new operational practices, Willow Greens has adopted expanded operating hours. Golfers can now enjoy hitting the ball earlier in the morning, later in the season, and even can bring their dog to sit on the sidelines.