The Legends At Parris Island
Executive summary (English & local language)
The Lowcountry region is home to some of the most scenic, natural environments for golf properties in the world. And even if you’re not a golfer, The Legends Golf Course on Parris Island is a must-see destination.
While many prestigious golf facilities are accessible only to club members or special guests, The Legends Golf Course welcomes all to its 180 acre facility. Visitors are greeted at the security gates by members of America’s legendary Marine Corps, as the facility is uniquely located within the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina; Beaufort County is also home to the Hilton Head Island golf mecca destination.
The Legends Golf Course operates within the guidelines of the larger Parris Island community of 6,710 acres; a world renowned facility that transforms more than 20,000 young men and women into United States Marines each year. However, the club is responsible for its own economic and environmental wellbeing, as well as community relations to ensure comprehensive sustainability. Its mission statement clearly states that it will “…practice environmental stewardship and demonstrate positive financial performance in all business components”; recognizing these priorities are key to success on the journey to sustainability.
The par-72 layout was saluted as one of the Top 10 Military Golf Courses in the World following a renovation completed in 2000 by architect Clyde Johnston. His design preserved archaeological sites, optimized natural features of the salt marsh wetlands and deep-water creeks that border the course on three sides, protected one of the largest concentrations of moss-draped live oaks, and utilized ponds as the main water source for turf grass irrigation. The course offers five sets of tees for golfers of all skill levels, and is a favorite trek for rising professional Tour players. Additionally, the property participates in wildlife research projects and is the physical site for the convergence of multiple historical events dating back to the sixteenth century. As an MCCS (Marine Corps Community Service) entity, the facility’s founding priority has been to serve members of the military and their families; however, support by civilians is critical to the golf course’s survival. Hence, The Legends hosts a variety of offerings to engage diverse community groups, including disk golf, tournaments to benefit charities, as well as clinics for ladies and members of the military to help grow the game.
As the U.S. Military advances sustainable practices among all branches of service, facilities at Parris Island are also contributing to overarching goals of self-sufficiency, energy independence, net zero targets and more. The staff at The Legends integrates select, notable, precision techniques and operational practices for exceptional resource management and documentation. It adheres to many requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense and Naval Facilities Engineering Command, practices that could become future regulations for the golf industry at large.
While many golf courses provide visitors with a multi-sensory experience into nature with visible wildlife, lush vegetation and breathtaking views, The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island also offers a distinct cultural and historical experience. In addition to the unique setting within the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, the facility is built on a campsite originally used by Native Americans. The site then served the French when they occupied Charlesfort in the 16th century and it was later the locale for the capital city of Spanish Florida, the city of Santa Elena, before English raids of 1587. Excavation projects have uncovered musket balls, triggers from Spanish harquebuses and more, that are on display at the Parris Island Museum. Visitors can explore the remains of Charlesfort as well as nature trails that lead to other significant sites, including the oldest known European pottery kiln discovered in the United States.
Beaufort County, South Carolina has stringent environmental preservation codes for land development. However, The Legends’ environmental stewardship practices must adhere to the even higher standards of the U.S. Department of Defense. This level of compliance is a shining example for all golf facilities, as future regulations on facility operations may mirror the guidelines that The Legends is already following. Additionally, its landscape heritage conservation efforts are guided by the Parris Island Department of Natural Resources, and the facility also consults with Audubon International and the Natural Resources Environmental Affairs Office regarding ecosystem protection and enhancement. Audubon International advises that a facility examine its practices regarding planning, management practices and documentation, wildlife and habitat, chemical use, water conservation, water quality and outreach/education.
The Lowcountry is known for its diverse wildlife species that contribute to the interdependent ecosystem. To advance preservation efforts, The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island team makes exceptional efforts to provide habitat, forage and nesting areas, and assist monitoring of notable species; it has self-appointed 45 acres of the property for native woodland. Wood Storks (federally and state threatened), Ospreys and Bald Eagles loaf and feed in marsh areas. The property’s herd of White-Tailed Deer is closely monitored to ensure health of the species, prevent overtaxing the forested/vegetated environments and reduce the risk of deer/vehicle collisions and property damage. Additionally, the American Alligator (that has been previously protected by the Endangered Species Act) nests and feeds in the ponds and adjacent marsh, and the staff recently created a Bluebird trail of 10 bird boxes; 30% were inhabited in year one and in year two, 90% of the new homes were occupied.
The staff works closely with the Parris Island Department of Natural Resources on two specific wildlife restoration projects; 1) the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, and 2) the Fox Squirrel. The on course effort tracks the snakes via surgically implanted transmitters, and the squirrels with radio collars. The project is providing critical information of when, where and why these animals move the way they do and the habitat they need. Most have names and notoriety among the course’s community, as there is strong support to study these species to advance protection for humans and wildlife.
Bermuda turf grass (cynodon transvaalensis) is the choice grass for the 113 maintained acres of golf course at The Legends. It is salt tolerant, resilient to the extreme heat and humidity of the region and it can maintain healthy conditions with fewer inputs than other grass varieties. Annual soil testing by an independent contractor assists the team with planning of maintenance practices for minimal impacts and optimal playing conditions. The staff uses social media to regularly communicate its efforts for customers to understand the direct relationship between environmentally sound practices and quality playing surfaces.
The Legends does not over seed any part of the golf course, but allows naturalized areas to provide seasonal color and texture differences. While there are minimal amenity grasses on the property, the blend of grass, ponds and other vegetation along with mowing lines that match the fairway contours, provide spectacular views of well groomed grounds. The staff has an ongoing continual improvement program that maps out current and future naturalized grassy areas and habitat patches. No habitat fragmentation has occurred since 2001, and Russ Hadaway, Golf Course Superintendent, intends to continue naturalizing areas of the golf course to reduce maintained acreage by another 15% over the next 5-10 years. There are two bat houses and a Bluebird Trail was built in 2015 consisting of 10 boxes. Dead logs and tree branches are allowed to remain in their location when possible, to provide habitat for species such as the Red Headed Woodpecker, as well as fish and aquatic animals that nest and feed along pond edges and corridors.
The design of The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island optimizes many tools from nature to supply water for turf grass irrigation. All surface and subsurface water drains toward one of the 11 onsite ponds allowing water capture and access for future irrigation. The many ponds on the property also provide aesthetic value for the visitor’s experience, as well as wildlife and vegetative habitat. While the maintenance team faces some documentation challenges due to the facility’s existing metering systems, it prioritizes as many practices as possible to reduce water consumption and continuously improve efficiency.
All turf grass irrigation is sourced from onsite ponds; potable water is consumed at the clubhouse and maintenance dwellings, and there are no restrooms on the course. As efforts to reduce maintained turf acreage continue, water consumption for course irrigation at The Legends will also decrease. Due to being part of the Parris Island “system” for potable water distribution (for clubhouse and maintenance facilities), the valve regulation is less than accurate, resulting in the facility taking in more water than needed at times. The team aims to improve accountability of potable water intake going forward and further separate water meters for more precise readings and tracking of consumption.
Russ Hadaway, Golf Course Superintendent, prioritizes preventative maintenance, even when budgets are tight. The irrigation system at The Legends is fully computer controlled, and is serviced, sprinkler heads are re-calibrated and checked for efficient application annually. The existing Variable Frequency Drive water pump is 16 years old and has had two of its three motors rebuilt in order to prolong its use. It functions at full capacity and monitors system pressure to keep water flow consistent and avoid energy surges and overwatering. The maintenance team does an excellent job of keeping the pump house clean, orderly and easily accessible to address any issues as needed.
The weather is monitored daily and the amount of rainfall has been documented in detail since 2010. Soil moisture meters are also used to determine irrigation needs, and cycles typically take place at night, never in the heat of the day when evapotranspiration rates are high. The facility’s irrigation software allows targeting site specific areas, and a variety of Toro nozzle types are used to ensure efficient application.
With the ongoing need to wash down equipment while prioritizing water conservation, The Legends’ maintenance team first blows clippings and debris from equipment before rinsing it with water; hence, reducing water consumption.
The current clubhouse and maintenance areas have low flow/flush toilets. Construction on a new clubhouse will begin in 2017. It will be built to internationally recognized LEED Silver Standards (Leading Energy and Environmental Design), to be a high performing building inclusive of leading water conservation technologies.
The Legends Golf Course on Parris Island recognizes the increasing importance of energy efficiency, the value of electric powered equipment, high performing buildings and measurement of consumption for optimal management. The organization’s leadership is committed to authenticity and transparency, and acknowledges the current inefficiencies associated with the age of building structures and equipment in the clubhouse and the maintenance yard.
As course maintenance practices continue decreasing water consumption, energy use will also decrease. While the water supply for irrigation is readily available in the property’s ponds, energy is still required to pump it to designated sites.
The Legends facility is currently powered from only non-renewable sources. However, construction for a new clubhouse will begin in 2017. It will be built to internationally recognized LEED Silver Standards (Leading Energy and Environmental Design). The three story Lowcountry design with more than 10k square feet will include high efficiency HVAC systems, appliances and climate controlled technology for precise monitoring and management. It is anticipated that energy consumption will reduce significantly with a tighter building envelope and advanced technologies that use less energy.
The Parris Island community has some alternative energy production in place. It is anticipated that the golf facility will also be powered by renewable energy sources in the future.
The golf course maintenance department is integrating hybrid and electric only type equipment into its fleet to minimize fuel consumption and pollution. There are some motion sensors and timers attached to lighting and HVAC operations; all maintenance buildings have large door openings to allow natural ventilation as weather conditions allow.
As The Legends is part of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Parris Island, it participates in the larger, very extensive recycling program in the community. It is also subject to larger contracts secured on behalf of the MCRD for products and supplies. These contracts often provide financial benefits due to the economy of scale with purchasing, as well as bulk buying that can reduce waste.
The facility’s location dictates unavoidable travel miles for many supplies and products, but bulk purchasing of nonperishable items can reduce ordering frequency. While service needs can often be met by local suppliers, the majority of sourcing for The Legends is from regional and national suppliers.
Most products, such as fertilizers, pesticides, sand and fuel, and facility services are currently from local sources. Most retail offerings in the pro shop as well as maintenance equipment must come from many miles away. The leadership of The Legends plans to develop a Sustainable Purchasing Policy to better guide purchasing decisions for the facility.
Supplier contracts secured through the MCRD allow The Legends to purchase in bulk when possible to reduce costs and packaging. However, these higher level agreements sometime limit options for the golf facility. The leadership team seeks to develop a “wish list” of preferred, more sustainable products/sources to present to the MCRD for future purchasing consideration. These might include course maintenance specific supplies as well as basic paper products, local farm produce and more.
The chosen Bermuda turf grass on the golf course has a high resiliency to drought, shade, disease and weeds. Multiple strategies are used to minimize course inputs, including spot spraying, hand pulling of weeds, and deliberate timing of turf scouting for pest indicators. Soil amendments are applied as needed or via a schedule based on results from soil testing conducted 1-2 times annually. The maintenance staff prioritizes soil structure enhancement and growing stress tolerant turf grass strands as this is a proactive, preventative practice to avoid potential reactive and often unsuccessful responses.
All pesticides used on the course must be government approved and chosen based on the lowest level of toxicity available and breakdown. The Department of Defense has set a threshold for active ingredient application, and the facility must submit monthly reports to the naval pest control division. The federally set limit is higher than required by the state of South Carolina; therefore, a state permit for pesticide application is not needed. As part of the system of naval installations, the team accesses an advanced software program that generates precise, detailed information associated with chemical applications. This valuable data helps minimize inputs for optimal outputs.
A 95% rule has been established for insect counts per square foot of turf, but the maintenance team has a very liberal policy on disease outbreaks with the exception of the greens. Russ Hadaway, Golf Course Superintendent, implemented an extensive IPM plan in 2010 that is detailed to include per month applications and practices. Chemical sprayers are calibrated monthly and use anti-drip nozzles. Additionally, maintenance practices follow a specific plan for increased buffer and no spray zones in more environmentally sensitive areas.
The clubhouse participates in the Parris Island community’s single stream recycling/reuse program that collects plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, aerosol cans, aluminum and more. Grass clippings, cores, turf and other vegetative waste is mulched for redistribution on the property. The staff is currently working with the MCRD recycling center to secure appropriate containers for recycling collection on the course itself.
Extensive operating procedures, log books, reporting protocols and more help ensure optimal pollution prevention at The Legends Golf Course. Thorough maintenance practices include monitoring the storage and application of hazardous materials, and the effects that weather has on them. The facility has detailed action plans for emergency incidents, health and safety, evacuation, fire prevention, and hazardous materials to name a few. All are precisely implemented and logged to ensure effectiveness, as the facility’s leadership utilizes ETHOS, a program that tracks all employee training to ensure that reviews, updates and continuing education remains current.
The facility utilizes Ninemire, an Agribusiness company to perform water quality testing 1-2 times annually, examining 3-4 samples per ton of water. Additional testing is also done on sensitive sites that require closer monitoring.
There are no external formal discharge agreements necessary for waste water at The Legends, as the facility is part of the larger Parris Island community that adheres to stringent federal guidelines.
The maintenance area provides secure, ventilated storage of hazardous materials. The staff responsibly disposes of all, or recycles most of its hazardous waste, including lubricants, oil filters, batteries, pesticide containers and more. The designated storage building has limited access to ensure accountability. Dry materials are shelved, liquids are on the ground level and the building’s impervious surface prevents leakage into the ground. Materials are organized to avoid misuse; multiple chemical and fuel spill absorption kits and emergency action instructions and supplies are readily accessible.
The Legend’s facility has a dedicated chemical mix area on an impervious surface under cover. All equipment is stored or repaired inside a dedicated building with ventilation, on an impervious surface so that any spills can be cleaned up without risk of leakage into the ground. Fuel tanks have double walls, are above ground at the “fuel farm”, and include a concrete pad that intentionally collects rainwater. After every weather event, the staff rigorously checks for signs of leakage, enters associated data in drainage logs and takes any action necessary. Additionally, the tanks are inspected monthly.
With 11 ponds to protect at The Legends Golf Course, eliminating run-off is paramount. Minimization of product application is an ongoing strategic consideration, as well as irrigation schedules and monitoring for weather events to not coincide with product application. All water bodies have vegetative buffer strips, and the staff plans to increase those as possible. The course design includes swales that are maintained at rough height or are naturalized to reduce run-off. Waterways of the Port Royal Sound feed inland from the Atlantic Ocean and meet several areas of the property; there are constant changes for the team to monitor and address as tidal fluctuations impact stability. The maintenance team is always seeking ways to improve erosion control and sediment discharge; most of the course property is established with grasses and plant matter to prevent erosion.
The Legends Golf Course welcomes all to its facility. However, due to its location within the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Parris Island, the general public often misperceives it as a military access facility only. Community relationships are critical to the viability of the course, as it is a standalone entity responsible for its financial sustainability. Hence, the team exudes exceptional efforts to promote the facility and all it has to offer for golfers as well as employment.
The number of staff members at The Legends Golf Course may be lean, but the loyalty and quality is robust. The maintenance staff boasts select members with 10-15 year tenures. Internal communication, education and following policies/protocols for safety and performance lend high value to the workplace environment. Monthly safety meetings and walks are conducted and all OSHA guidelines for the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) are followed. The maintenance staff participates in an annual Hazardous Waste Training. All certified pesticide applicators take part in the Respiratory Protection Program established by the MCRDPI Force Preservation office; the maintenance staff is also involved in a Hearing Conservation program. Russ Hadaway, Golf Course Superintendent, works directly with each staff member to ensure understanding of the value of the landscape and cultural heritage associated with the property.
The leadership team participates in and earns continuing education credits through programs produced by local nonprofit organization Experience Green. Experience Green’s Sustainability in Golf program brings together leading experts to share insights on sustainable golf practices, expand the green network, offer resources and more. Additionally, Andy Hinson, Golf Couse Manager actively participates in the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association and other local golf groups.
The sustainability working group is currently made up of Andy Hinson, Golf Course Manager, Russ Hadaway, Golf Course Superintendent, and Doug Moss, Assistant Golf Course Superintendent. As the facility advances its sustainability efforts, it hopes to expand staff engagement.
Andy Hinson, Golf Course Manager, is an award winning PGA Professional, who constantly works with diverse community groups to engage participation. In addition to participating in the Sustainability in Golf initiatives of Experience Green, a local nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability, the facility hosts more than 100 events annually to assist charitable organizations with fundraising and more. The facility offers a Ladies’ League with instruction, course play and social function, as well as regular Adaptive Golf clinics in conjunction with Beaufort Memorial Hospital. The Legends is the dedicated practice facility for the Battery Creek High School Golf Team, and offers multiple frequent player/local discount programs to promote loyalty and play. A unique offering of the facility is its Unit Clinics, a four week program available to Parris Island military “unit” members in a group format. The program introduces beginners to the game of golf for $1 per person/per week. Equipment is provided and free clubs are distributed at the end of the four week training (the clubs are donated by members of the Hilton Head Island area community for distribution to the participants). The facility also recognizes the value of Junior Golf to sustainability of the game of golf, and it will host a multi-day event for the International Junior Golf Tour in Sept 2016.
The Legends facility offers more for visitors than golf, a pro shop and The Sand Trap grill. The facility welcomes all to enjoy disk golf, fishing access points, bird watching, historical education and the Parris Island Nature Trails.
The Legends received its name as each of the 18 holes honors a legendary marine that completed training at Parris Island and has significantly impacted society in some way. A photo of each honoree is displayed in the clubhouse, and the names of each are noted on the scorecard and signage at each hole.
In addition to the unique setting within the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, the facility is built on a campsite originally used by Native Americans. Visitors can explore the remains of Charlesfort as well as nature trails that lead to other significant sites, including the oldest known European pottery kiln discovered in the United States. There are markers and educational signage in many property locations referencing meaningful historical events that occurred in the location or community.
Exceptional cross departmental communication at The Legends enhances cooperation and collaboration to benefit all. There is self-acknowledged respect among the leadership group for the expertise that each contributes to the team effort, in addition to transparency and open communication regarding issues, successes, opportunities and more. This cross functionality is impressive and rare in an industry that is known for operating in internal silos. The senior leadership allows junior staff to take on select high level responsibilities that develop skills and broaden resource availability.
The maintenance staff updates the pro shop and others daily regarding course conditions, projects that may affect playing conditions, why the efforts are important, etc. These representatives post signs in the pro shop, utilize social media and verbally communicate updates to golfers and visitors to garner understanding and support. Detailed yardage guides with scorecard are available for download from the course’s website to assist golfers with determining strategy for playing each hole. The website also includes information about tournaments, handicapping, outing fees, discount packages, instruction and more.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- Training Log
The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island optimizes its existing resources while continuing to seek ways to do more with less. The team is always refining operation methods to accommodate internal and external factors that affect its performance and its journey to sustainability as an independent facility, while contributing to goals of the larger Parris Island, military and global communities. With heightened engagement to explore specific practices that impact sustainability, and the investment in the forthcoming LEED Silver clubhouse, the team is confident in its ongoing potential to continue reducing environmental impacts and associated costs.
- The facility utilizes advanced technology to precisely calculate chemical applications that minimize inputs and optimize results.
- Diverse and unique offerings include cultural and historical sites/education, golf clinics, nature trails and fishing, that attract visitors with interests beyond only golf.
- The recently built Bluebird Trail achieved 90% occupancy in year two.
- Current initiatives and long term plans are decreasing maintained turf areas to help reduce resource consumption.
- The facility is guided by many requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense and Naval Facilities Engineering Command that are higher than current state requirements.
- Course design capitalizes on the availability of surface water to irrigate 100% of turfgrass on the golf course.
- A new clubhouse will open in 2017, built to internationally recognized LEED Silver Standards for Leading Energy and Environment Design; it is projected that the high performing building will significantly reduce environmental impacts and consumption levels.
- Team working relationships are based upon trust and respect, recognizing the contributions of every member; cross departmental communication is open and candid for increased collaboration and cohesiveness.