What a great experience the Golf Industry Show turned out to be!! However, I was truly disappointed to see the lack of environmentally sustainable efforts at the show.
I attended the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) meetings as an owner this year for the first time and there was a great deal of talk about sustainable business models and best practices to get more people to play the game and have MORE FUN...this should be our focus as operators as we move forward. Really think outside of the box and get people enjoying themselves with the first step playing a tee box (or two) forward. This will get people hitting shots that are more conducive to greens in regulations and not hoping to get there with a long iron. It may also help build our numbers by encouraging kids and beginners, but you first must find out how to reach them. Also adding value without discounting so that you are not competing on price alone, which ultimately devalues the experience. Now if your price point is low then its about placing yourself in the right market. I would also like to see more advertising about golf as a form of recreation and not the advertising that each of us does on our own to attract golfers. There needs to be more of a presence about how beneficial the game is to our communities and individuals. I will attempt to move this needle within our local golf market and I will let you know how that turns out, but this will be a slow project as we will first have to develop relationships, trust, honesty, and only then will we be able to collaborate. We'll see and I am optimistic that we can buck the trend of 10-11% golfers in our population locally.
OK off of that soap box. But what about the show room floor? I saw and picked up some info about composting toilets and propane driven machinery. Where were the bio-diesel generators, composters, tea brewers, etc. that will move golf ahead as the front-runners as environmental stewards that we all like to consider ourselves. I did see one tea brewer, but it was an admitted prop to get people to the booth and he did not even sell products related to teas. Not to mention that most simple endeavor, the trash, was not sorted at all. It was all co-mingled!! There were organic fertilizers and chemicals on the floor, and lot's of irrigation technologies to improve efficiency and this is great to see. I'm still not sure how you keep from clobbering these moisture sensors with aerifiers. I got s'more lernin' to do! I am hopeful that more environmental sustainability will come with time and the efforts of Greg Lyman and the Environmental Institute For Golf.
We have been getting some good exposure from non-golf related entities at the Zero Waste Park at Dairy Creek. The week before I left for the GIS our site was visited by the director, Hunter Francis, of the Center for Sustainability at Cal Poly. We are working with Cal Poly's Horticulture Department in hopes to quantify the beneficial results of compost teas on golf courses. The day I left for the show I presented our program to 60+ PGA professionals at a Southern Section PGA meeting held at Dairy Creek. The response was good and there was a good deal of interest. A couple of days after I returned from the GIS we hosted a group from the EPA to check out the site and they were excited about what was happening and eager to help. This may lead to expanding the the Zero Waste efforts to Morro Bay and perhaps Chalk Mountain as well. Last week we had a group from VermiVision (www.vermivision.net) tour our facility and it turns out we all have similar goals to reduce pesticides, water use, and other chemicals from agricultural operations.
It been rewarding seeing that not only have our efforts been rewarded by golfers sorting their waste at the facility (about 90% of the time!!), but now we are helping other entities with their goals or providing them a model that they can mimic. I truly think this process can be useful in the golf industry as we have removed ~3000 pounds of waste from the landfills since October, generated nearly 20 cu. yds. of compost, and fertilized our greens with teas every two weeks. I can't wait to see the recent lab results from Cal Poly. We'll keep our heads down and keep plugging forward in the effort of global awareness and environmental sustainability. Let us know if we can provide you with a tour or how we can help your efforts in any way.