EGR Awards Case Study

Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association

The Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association (GGCSA) has a long standing tradition of excellence within the golf industry. Comprised of superintendents, assistant superintendents, educators and vendors, the GGCSA is a more than 800 member organization forged around teamwork and a common vision. For years, Georgia’s golf course superintendents have earned the reputation of being excellent environmental stewards and similarly have produced two National Environmental Leaders in Golf Award Winners.

GGCSA members have long been aware of the importance of water and the importance of conservation. The drought years from 1998 to 2002 made Georgia superintendents painfully aware of the need to use water wisely. When the water resources of the state of Georgia came under governmental scrutiny in 2002, the GGCSA took a leadership role in this critical legislative issue. Their efforts included the establishment of a water task force committee that was comprised of superintendents, university professors and research professionals. Chaired by Mark Esoda, CGCS at Atlanta Country Club, the first objective of the committee was to ensure that golf courses remained classified as “urban agriculture”. The committee created booklets entitled “Georgia Golf: Keeping Georgia Green” and “An Economic Profile of Golf Courses in Georgia”. These materials defined the economic and environmental impacts of golf in Georgia. They were distributed to the state legislature, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and many other governmental entities. These documents have proven to be extremely instrumental to the early successes of their efforts and continue to inform governmental bodies of golf’s role in Georgia’s economy and the preservation of natural green space.

 The chapter has also led the way in the formation of the Georgia Allied Golf Council (GAGC). This committee, chaired by Wade Thomas, GCS at Idle Hour Club in Macon, is a coalition made up of representatives from the GGCSA, the Georgia Section of the PGA of America, the Georgia State Golf Association, the Georgia Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America and the Georgia Golf Course Owners Association. United by the game of golf, this group has accomplished many goals, including raising funds to provide an ongoing lobbying effort (partnered with GeorgiaLink) that represents the Georgia golf industry at various levels of state government. The GAGC supported a bill passed in the state legislature in 2005 to create a statewide water management plan by 2007. With the GGCSA’s input, several points were included in the bill that allow for best management practices on golf courses to be a part of the statewide water plan.

The GGCSA has been working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources EPD division to create a ground breaking water conservation initiative. They have been collaborating to create the “Best Management Practices (BMP) for water conservation program”. The goal of the program is to have 75% of GGCSA member clubs utilizing a written water conservation plan by May 2007. At that time, the DNR and the GGCSA will evaluate the program and determine results regarding efficient water use. Then they will decide the next steps to further the goal of efficient golf course water use in the state of Georgia.

In 2003, the GGCSA Board of Directors created the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation (GGEF) which serves as an environmental foundation that would grow and protect the game of golf and its role in environmental stewardship in Georgia.  To date, this foundation has raised over $80,000 to support its mission of advancing education and research in the field of turfgrass management. Also, the GGEF has supported educational opportunities for GGCSA members on water conservation practices and the implementation of BMPs on golf courses throughout Georgia.

The GGCSA, supported by the GGEF, will continue to make sure that Georgia golf courses use water wisely. The BMP initiative is a strong program that is well on its way to achieving the stated goal of 75% participation by May of 2007. When this goal is met, the GGCSA will continue to work with state agencies and regulators to improve and refine water management programs. The GGCSA and the GGEF are proud to say, “Together we can grow the game of golf, protect the environment, provide education, and serve the greater good”.