Olds Students Make Visit To Banff Springs
In September 20, the 2011 Olds College Golf Course Management Degree students were welcomed by Certified, Master Superintendent Bob Burrows, assistant Dan Nolan, and environmental coordinator Jennifer Heim, to tour the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Club. The unique national park venue introduced students to those increasing environmental stewardship responsibilities commonly adopted by many courses across Canada.
Certified since 1999, both the Banff Springs Hotel and golf course were individually certified, sharing the prestigious title of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Mr. Burrows and his leadership team having cleared their schedule for us, provided a thoroughly informative tour from clubhouse to Caldron (signature hole #4), with special attention to each of those stewardship items that define the Certified property. The impeccably conditioned Stanley Thompson layout shared its National Park advantage, where a balance of wolf, bear, cougar, and elk, annually bring more than two million visitors to the park, and approximately 33,000 rounds in their compressed summer season. Mr. Burrows’ informative review identified how the extensive naturalization at Banff Springs required critical assessment to proactively manage pace of play concerns, guest experience, and high annual rounds. A thorough understanding of original design, playability and functionality is paramount.
Subsequent native species introduced must be thoroughly planned before committing to the natural rugged look. Just as the agronomic challenges of growing turf in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains were overcome, Banff’s impressive case study showed how extensive naturalization doesn’t have to interfere with the rigors of busy resort play. Degree students enrolled in “Environmental Management for Golf Courses”, lends itself to six fall site visits, where we have found a growing trend of Environmental Coordinator positions among our tour venues. This trend illustrates the increasing commitment by Superintendents to embrace environmental stewardship, and the realization that those subsequent responsibilities to ensure protection and enhancement may require more time than traditional staffing levels.
The voluntary five step commitment of the Audubon certification program, requires ongoing management of outreach and education, environmental planning, wildlife and habitat, the safety and reduction of chemical use, water quality protection and conservation. Sharing the importance of these essential green spaces with membership and guests, may be one of the most significant responsibilities adopted by golf courses who have committed to sustainable golf course management. Diligence in educating our public on the value of these green spaces, and those tremendous lengths our course managers do to ensure their enhancement, should be recognized as a significant voluntary commitment to protecting our environment.
Thanks to Mr. Burrows and the staff of the Fairmont Banff Springs http://www.fairmont.com/banffsprings/Recreation/Golf/ for a wonderful and memorable trip to the area. For more information on these and other activities of the turf program at Olds College, visit the student managed Olds College Turf Club Blog, octurf.blogspot.com, or visit this LINK for program information.
Jason Pick can be reached via telephone 403-556-8243 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org