The Iowa Golf Course Superintendents Association recently released a guide for eco-friendly management practices for courses.
The Best Management Practices Planning Guide and Template has been developed over the past two years, according to Joe Stelzer, an IGCSA board member and superintendent at Thunder Hills Country Club in Peosta, Iowa.
“It gives all of us someplace to go back to as a reference for your practices on your course,” he said. “It gives each person a starting point.”
The 66-page document is meticulous, detailing the methods and benefits of hundreds of components of golf course management.
Sections focus on irrigation issues, such as pond location and stormwater management. The plan also talks about mowing, seeding and shade tree treatments, as well as pest management and landscaping.
Stelzer said one reason for the guide is to beat state regulators to the punch.
“We’re trying to be proactive environmentally with our practices versus some of the agricultural practices, which have been slower,” he said. “We want to show that we are proactively addressing some of this before we get legislators coming down on the industry.”
But Stelzer said golf course superintendents also want to be better stewards of the land.
“We continually look at our practices on the property here, looking at runoff and what products we apply,” he said. “As the environment and your property changes, you’re going to have to adapt.”
Stelzer said these guidelines are not just for private golf courses, but public courses as well. Local public recreation officials said they are excited.
“We’re always looking and talking about what we can do in the course about environmental improvements,” said Marie Ware, leisure services manager for the City of Dubuque.
Ware oversees management staff at the city-owned Bunker Hill Golf Course, where her office is located.
Dubuque County Conservation Executive Director Brian Preston said he is anxious to see the report.
“There is a lot more opportunity for new ideas, better management techniques, anything we can do to reduce the footprint,” he said, referring to the county’s Fillmore Fairways Golf Course. “There is also usually cost savings that goes along with these things. We’ve done some work out there trying to control runoff from the development and trying to install some prairies around the fairways.”
Ware said the city has already taken some steps as well by developing an integrated pest management plan for Bunker Hill and building stormwater structures to slow water that enters the course from continuing on downhill.