EGR Awards Case Study

Peter McDonough, The Keswick Club, Virginia

Peter M. McDonough, golf course superintendent at The Keswick Club in Keswick, Va., spent the summer of 2002 helping golf courses across the state deal with the worst drought in recorded history. On August 30, 2002, Governor Mark Warner implemented Executive Order 33, which put in place sweeping water restrictions for most of the state. The order mandated that golf courses only be allowed to water tees and greens and only at night. Prior to the order being issued, the golf course industry had already been doing its part to conserve water. Many superintendents had imposed their own water restrictions - refraining from washing golf cars and machinery and decreasing irrigation times. The extreme restrictions caused panic among superintendents. There were concerns about not being able to syringe bentgrass greens during extreme heat conditions or overseed fairways for winter play. Peter decided to personally do something about the onerous water restrictions.

On Sept. 4, he got in his car and headed to the state capitol in Richmond. He went to the governor's office and was able to secure an appointment to sit in with a group of green industry representatives who were there to discuss the drought situation. The group met with David Paylor, Virginia's Drought Coordinator and Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources. During the meeting, Peter effectively communicated how golf courses would be negatively impacted by the restrictions. He also educated state officials on golf course management and water conservation practices. Peter's efforts were successful because the very next day the Governor allowed two exemptions for golf courses: 1) that handwatering or syringing of greens be allowed during daylight hours; and 2) watering of newly renovated seeded fairways for a period not to exceed 30 days after planting.

During the meeting with Mr. Paylor, Peter asked if he could identify a superintendent to sit on a proposed water management board that would be working on a state-wide water use policy for golf courses in the future. His request was granted and when the board formed that fall, John Haley, golf course superintendent at Hermitage Country Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va., had a seat at the table.

In July 2003, Peter was recognized for his work during the drought suffered in 2002 by being named runner-up in the 2003 Virginia Environmental Stewardship Awards. The award honors individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding and innovative contributions to protect and enhance Virginia's natural resources.