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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Colonial Acres Golf Course

Colonial Acres Golf Course, Glenmont, New York

Background

Colonial Acres Golf Course was established in 1964. It is a nine-hole golf course that has 20 acres of naturalized areas, woodlands and water. Approximately 13 acres are maintained turf. The course receives approximately 26,000 rounds of golf a year.

In 1998, Colonial Acres Golf Course became the smallest golf course in the world to become an Audubon Cooperative Certified Sanctuary. The golf course has used organic fertilizers and microbial innoculants for the past seven years. In 1997, Colonial Acres Golf Course embarked on a process that would reduce the amount of synthetic pesticides used by increasing the organic and biological product use, while maintaining an above-average golf course on which people could enjoy both golf and the environment.

Methodologies and Procedures

The first step was to strengthen the soil using organic-based fertilizers, such as bone and feathermeal or composted turkey droppings, and apply them in place of synthetic fertilizers. Also, a Bio Pack, which is a mixture of microbes (natural organisms in soil profiles), biostimulants (to help stress recovery) and yucca (a wetting agent to help drought stress) was incorporated.

The second part of this process was to use only Category 3 synthetic pesticides, which carry precautionary labels. These are the least toxic of synthetic products. This was done in a manner that allowed the golf course's playability to remain above average for golfers' satisfaction.

The third part of this process was not to use any sterile inhibitors (these products are commonly used on golf courses to reduce maintenance) which destroy microbes in the soil. This is a common-sense approach that avoids the destruction of natural organisms that help disease suppression.

Finally, Colonial Acres Golf Course had to determine how much inconvenience the golfers were willing to tolerate because of weeds, disease and insect problems. When golfers complained (about 2 percent), management pointed to the wildlife and explained "They live with it and you will too."

Benefits

Equal amounts of organic/biological and synthetic products were used.

Any synthetic chemicals used were the least toxic of synthetic products.

There was a 40 percent reduction in root-borne diseases on greens.

Over a three-year period, a total reduction of eight synthetic applications occurred to control weeds, disease and insects.

A reduction in synthetic chemicals use resulted in a savings of $1,442 from the previous year.

With the money saved, an overseeding program was implemented using different varieties of grass that are disease- and drought-tolerant on greens, tees, and fairways.

With threshold levels set, only 2 percent of golfers were dissatisfied.


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