By Aubrey McCormick (C21)
Golf courses and their facilities occupy 2,224,512 acres of land, which is equal to 3,507 sq miles. According to the National Golf Foundation, 150 golf courses closed their doors in 2013, while player participation is seeing a 20% decline over the last 9 years. Sustainability in sports is starting to gain traction and many organizations, teams, and sponsors have stepped up to the plate to hit the “green” home run in lowering energy, waste, and their environmental impact. Golf is different and can have a massive environmental impact compared to almost every other sport. It’s not a game played on nature, it’s played in it. Saving natural resources, while preserving these green spaces within cities and communities is crucial and will have a positive environmental impact for future generations.
The golf industry is slow moving when it comes to showcasing their sustainable efforts, however there is recognition from industry professionals that more can be done. The Golf Industry Show (GIS) is being held in San Antonio, TX on February 23-26 and occurs during the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) Conference. The NGCOA holds this event each year to enable industry professionals the opportunity to network, gain education, and bring business solutions derived from the latest products and services. The GIS brings club owners, golf course superintendents, technicians, and other industry professionals together, to gain education on the most recent trends in turf management and facility care.
Another feature of the GIS, is the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Education Conference. Superintendents are the heart-beat of golf course maintenance and turf care, and this event is the largest education event in the industry. Topics covered include: agronomics, environmental management, communication, and business management. Superintendents are leaders in sustainable golf and do a lot maintain environmentally friendly techniques in course management. The education conference gives veteran superintendents new techniques to implement, while educating the future generation.
Environmental sustainability is key at the GIS, especially for superintendents and management. During the three days, there will be discussions and presentations focused on public promotion of environmental efforts, site-specific management, native grass maintenance, organic and sustainable golf turf management strategies, stakeholder positioning for prescription irrigation systems, Zero Waste Golf, and stewardship for the successful superintendent.
The final day features Saving the “Green,” which places an emphasis on programs and strategies that will reduce long-term maintenance expenses for golf courses. The goal of the GIS is to define forward thinking baselines for golf courses, while improving programs and player development within golf. I will be attending the GIS as a guest of Syngenta AG, a global Swiss agribusiness that markets seeds and agrochemicals. I will be speaking on a panel with the Troon Golf Management C-Level executives and The Olympic Club General Manager, Pat Finlen. The goal is to discuss sustainability, player participation goals, and come up with projected goals in golf for 2015 and beyond. This is a private event and panel discussion being held during the GIS to stakeholders, Syngenta team members, and club management professionals.
Aubrey McCormick is a former professional golfer, who competed nationally on the LPGA Symetra Tour, US Open qualifying schools, and the Sun Coast Tour. She served as an LPGA instructor for two seasons and established Aubrey McCormick Golf, LLC, raising over $300,000 in investment to compete. Following her professional golf career, McCormick worked as the Donor Coordinator for Green America, environmental non-profit based in Washington, DC. In this role, she traveled to Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco to assist in promoting the National Green Festivals. In 2010, she competed on the television show Big Break Atlantis on the Golf Channel and was deemed the “First Green Golfer.” In an effort to merge sustainability and the golf industry, she partnered with the CEO of Eco-Coach Consulting. Anca Novacovici and is currently spearheading efforts to drive operational sustainability within the golf industry. Currently, McCormick is attending Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, working toward an MBA in Sustainable Management, along with a Certificate in Sports & Sustainability, while participating in speaking engagements across the country, and building the case for Green Golf. Follow her on twitter: @Amacgolf
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