Golf Clubs Drive Further

Thursday 27 November 2014

Highlands Country Club in North Carolina and Broken Sound Club in Florida were among the first clubs in the United States to achieve golf’s international sustainability label, GEO Certified®, a mark recognized by ISEAL, the global association for credibility and effectiveness in sustainability standards. 

Three years later, both clubs have been re-certified, following an independent 3rd party visit and review showing they have continued to do more each year and have again exceeded voluntary industry standards for the stewardship of nature, effective natural resource management, and community value.    

Highland's Organic Herb Garden
Since Highland Golf Club’s first certification in 2011, the club has continued to integrate practical sustainability into its operations, and undertaken several noteworthy projects, including: 

  • More goods and materials purchased locally or cultivated on-site; including a new organic garden to supply the restaurant and to make use of compostable kitchen waste.
  • Significant changes to mowing patterns to increase natural spaces – and improve operational efficiency – including replacing some areas of maintained turf with wildflowers for pollinator species plus more beehives.
  • Reduced water consumption – and operational costs – by upgrading to a high efficiency variable frequency drive system and moisture meters from Toro for more precision irrigation.
  • Renovated the health spa with green building and water and energy conservation features, and added energy efficiency education to all staff meetings.
  • Expanded participation in local efforts to increase awareness of environmental issues and efficiencies, including hosting a community Environmental Awareness Day and other outreach.

Christian Drake, Assistant Superintendent: ‘Becoming GEO Certified® here at Highlands Country Club has been a huge benefit in multiple aspects. From the membership at the Club to the Highlands community, certification has taken each facet of the operation and provided a way to become even more involved as an environmental steward and community hub’. 

Beehives at Broken Sound

Broken Sound Club has also bolstered their efforts, continuing their management philosophy of creatively achieving more while using less, and taking on a leadership role by share their sustainable operations successes with other municipalities, state organizations, and golf courses in Florida.  

John Crean, General Manager said: ‘Attaining the prestigious GEO Certified® mark several years ago was most certainly a worthy achievement. Becoming re-certified by the Golf Environment Organization is a testament to both the membership’s and the staff’s continued commitment to reduce Broken Sound Club’s carbon footprint, provide a world class community that is in harmony with the natural environment and increase the habitats of indigenous species of plant and animal life. We are all very proud of this great accomplishment’. 

Broken Sound is also the largest green space in the City of Boca Raton, a responsibility the staff carries out with pride and care, taking on more and more projects to increase the environmental value.  In addition to an outstanding waste reduction and re-use programme, new projects have included:

  • Thousands of young trees planted to vary the age structure of existing woodland stands and the introduction of
  • More native marginal aquatic plants to enhance filtration and improve wildlife habitats.
  • More nest boxes, built by member’s children, to attract 13 species including barn owls and painted buntings.
  • Collaboration with the State of Florida on a ten acre wildflower site with beehives. 

Following swiftly on the heels of Highlands and Broken Sound, and recently GEO Certified® Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Venice Golf & Country Club in Florida, and Mirimichi in Tennessee are also in the process of re-certification in the three-yearly cycle.

Those mentioned are just a few of the growing number of golf facilities using OnCourse®, the free online guidance program to help golf facilities easily identify sustainability strengths and opportunities and improve their business and overall net value to nature and communities.     

OnCourse® is available free to all golf clubs and courses, made possible through wide industry support, and is then the basis for review to become GEO Certified®.

About GEO Certified® and OnCourse®

GEO Certified® and OnCourse® are financially supported by the golf industry and administered by golf’s not-for-profit sustainability support group, GEO. 

GEO Certified® and GEO are recognized by the ISEAL Alliance, the global body for credibility in sustainability standards.  And OnCourse® has been developed specifically for golf to make it easier, more practical and more productive for clubs to assess, improve and record their value to nature and communities – while providing a great golf environment for members and visitors to enjoy. 

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