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(Fore) Reasons to Golf at an Audubon Course

Updated on August 12, 2014

Golf Course Gone Green!

Over the years I've been to many different golf courses. Okay, honestly... I don't play golf - but my husband does. And, I make a really good chauffeur for him (that means I drive the golf cart!). I've tried playing, but most times it's a challenge for me just to remember what all those golf terms mean. Yes, I know what an 'Ace' is - but did I just hit a bogey or a birdie? When I would mess up (quite often), I couldn't recall if I chopped the ball, or choked the club. And I never did figure out why the sandtrap is sometimes a 'beach' and sometimes a 'bunker.' But seriously, I'm not just the designated driver, I'm the designated photographer; and the golf course is one of my favorite destinations for taking pictures.

Some years ago, while vacationing in Bonita Springs, our Hyatt Villa included golf privileges to an Audubon Certified Golf Course. We were told this meant a 'Green' golf course; one having great environmental stewardship. I didn't even know that a golf course could go "Green." I thought they were already green! You know... putting greens, fairway greens, green trees, etc. Definitely seemed like an oxymoron to me. How do you "Green" the greens?

I was somewhat familiar with the Audubon Family. I'd heard of Audubon Zoos, Audubon Aquariums, and Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectariums, but never an Audubon Golf Course. Apparently, as golf has become more popular, so has the concern for preserving those green spaces for both people and wildlife. As I drove the cart that day at Raptor Bay Golf Club, I realized fore (okay... four!) reasons golfers should choose an Audubon course. See if you agree.

Image Credit: All photos on this lens taken by me, Glenda Motsavage, with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150

Raptor Bay ~ Bonita Springs, Florida - 1st Course in the World to Receive the Gold Signature Sanctuary Certification

Raptor Bay ~ Bonita Springs, Florida
Raptor Bay ~ Bonita Springs, Florida

Raptor Bay Golf Course was unlike any we had ever played before - nature at it's best! After experiencing this 18-hole beauty, we were not surprised to learn that it was the 1st golf course in the world to receive Audubon International's highest certification: The Gold Signature Sanctuary Certification. There is no doubt the course designers and developers had the utmost respect for the land. Each of the holes were created to blend perfectly with the environment.

What is an Audubon Certified Golf Course?

An organization called Audubon International, (not to be confused with the National Audubon Society), certifies golf courses that meet criteria in 6 different areas of environmental stewardship. Currently, there are approximately 2200 golf courses in the program, but only 600 properties in 24 countries have been certified.

These Are The 6 Certification Categories:

(1) Environmental Planning

(2) Wildlife and Habitat Management

(3) Water Conservation

(4) Chemical Use Reduction and Safety

(5) Water Quality Management

(6) Outreach and Education

Most golf courses achieve certification within 1-3 years, depending how quickly they plan, implement, and document their environmental practices. After acceptance, re-certification is required every 2 years.

The Audubon International Certification process is so environmentally-friendly that the organization has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency!

The 2010 President's Award for Environmental Stewardship... - Goes to Anthony L. Williams

Are you interested in making your green spaces 'Greener?' This book is not just for golf course grounds managers or irrigation specialists. It is the perfect tutorial for landscape architects and designers, builders, contractors, developers... or simply the average 'Jane' looking to beautify her backyard in an Eco-friendly way! It contains templates and checklists that anyone can use for their own projects.

The Author, Mr Williams, received the 2010 President's Award for Environmental Stewardship. Among other notable projects, he is currently the grounds manager for Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Wondering if Your Favorite Golf Course is Audubon Certified?

You can find the complete listing on the Audubon International website by clicking here:

Yes, That's a Florida Gator You See!
Yes, That's a Florida Gator You See!

# 4 - Water Conservation

(Fore) Reasons to Golf at an Audubon Course

I'm not a 'Green' freak, but I do like to do my part to preserve our great universe whenever I can. In fact, I don't like to waste anything, including water. One motto we live by in our household is this, "waste not, want not!" I appreciate the efforts of others who do the same. That's why 'Water Conservation' made my list.

Golf courses are notorious for extreme water usage everyday for irrigation. Yes, I know, they have to keep the Greens green - but there are more responsible ways to do it. The Audubon program teaches them how to absorb and filter rainwater, and then recycle it for irrigation.

***(Yes, that's a Florida gator you see in the photo!)

Did You Know They Make Floating Golf Balls? - It's true... and it's an ingenious idea!

Get it before the gator does! I cannot tell you how many golf balls my husband lost in the water over the years. Floating Golf Balls are a great item for Audubon courses, or any golf course with a lot of water hazards, (or hungry gators like the one in the photo above).

Golf Ball Retriever - An Essential Item for an Audubon Golf Course

I highly recommend a 'Golf Ball Retriever' as an essential item for any golf course, but especially if you are playing an Audubon course. These type of courses always have an abundance of wildlife in their natural habitat, some of which can become aggressive if your ball disturbs them. It may be safer to use a retriever rather than getting too close and reaching with your hand.

Here's how it works: A golf ball retriever is used to recover misplaced balls; those that went off the fairway into a water hazard or deep rough. A retriever uses a telescopic extension (that varies in length) to lift the ball from the water or rough using a swiveling cup at the end. In Florida, for instance, you NEVER want to reach into the water to get your ball. Frequently we see alligators and other potentially dangerous critters.

I love this thing! I use it every time we go golfing. (Yes, inevitably my husband puts a few shots in the water!) But here's the ironic thing: Whenever I'm searching for his lost ball, I usually find multiple others that were left behind - probably because the golfer didn't have a ball retriever and couldn't get it out of the water. It's not unusual for us to come home with many more golf balls than we started with. (Have you priced golf balls recently?)

# 3 - I Love This Land! - (Fore) Reasons to Golf at an Audubon Course

Natural Vegetation on the Raptor Bay Golf Course
Natural Vegetation on the Raptor Bay Golf Course

Land... they're not making any more! When it's gone, it's gone. Every time a housing development is constructed, an interstate highway is built, or a golf course is planned, they take more and more of this valuable resource.

On the Raptor Bay Golf Course there were no residential sites on the property. This is rare nowadays. Instead of concrete, brick and mortar, they had 22 acres of lakes and 200 acres of native vegetation and nature preserve areas. It was pretty cool to see how they integrated the natural vegetation into every hole on the course; it was perfectly woven into the landscape. A bonus for me, and something I had never seen before, were the golf cart paths made entirely from crushed coquina shells - a creative idea using yet another natural resource. Additionally, their efforts to protect the land's topsoil from water and wind erosion is second to none.

Of course, whenever you have lots of water and nature preserves you usually have pesky bugs like mosquitoes and ticks. Not so on an Audubon course. We did not get one bite, and played the course twice! The "AfterBite" itch eraser I carried with me was never opened. Along with the fantastic water conservation and land preservation techniques, these type of courses have an integrated and aggressive pest management program. The dangerous pesticides (some used to contain arsenic) have been replaced with safer (but effective) non-chemical use.

Crushed Coquina Shell Cart Path Replaces Concrete! - Great use of natural resources

Raptor Bay Golf Course ~ Audubon International Certified - Photo Tour

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Golf Course View from our Villa Balcony at Hyatt Coconut Plantation ~ Bonita SpringsA Florida Gator! Yes, This is Why You Need a Golf Ball Retriever!Shooting an Animal of a Different Kind... My Hubby!  :-)18 Challenging Holes, Great Exercise for My Hubby... I Drove the Cart All Day!Utterly Unspoiled!  (That Turtle Took Its Good 'Ole Time!)Gorgeous Crushed Coquina Shell Golf Cart PathHubby Having Fun at the Tee!
Golf Course View from our Villa Balcony at Hyatt Coconut Plantation ~ Bonita Springs
Golf Course View from our Villa Balcony at Hyatt Coconut Plantation ~ Bonita Springs
A Florida Gator! Yes, This is Why You Need a Golf Ball Retriever!
A Florida Gator! Yes, This is Why You Need a Golf Ball Retriever!
Shooting an Animal of a Different Kind... My Hubby!  :-)
Shooting an Animal of a Different Kind... My Hubby! :-)
18 Challenging Holes, Great Exercise for My Hubby... I Drove the Cart All Day!
18 Challenging Holes, Great Exercise for My Hubby... I Drove the Cart All Day!
Utterly Unspoiled!  (That Turtle Took Its Good 'Ole Time!)
Utterly Unspoiled! (That Turtle Took Its Good 'Ole Time!)
Gorgeous Crushed Coquina Shell Golf Cart Path
Gorgeous Crushed Coquina Shell Golf Cart Path
Hubby Having Fun at the Tee!
Hubby Having Fun at the Tee!
This Turtle Took Its Good 'Ole Time!
This Turtle Took Its Good 'Ole Time!

# 2 - Save The Animals!

(Fore) Reasons to Golf at an Audubon Course

"We can judge the heart of man by his treatment of animals." ~ (Immanual Kant)

According to Audubon International, 70% of most golf courses are non-play areas, wherein an amazing number of species call this home.

As we use up the land, we drive the animals out. I love the fact that Audubon golf courses allow the wildlife to remain in their natural habitat. On the Raptor Bay course that we played, since there were no residential homes, it was so refreshing to see the animals in 'their' home. Oh my, just during that one round of golf we viewed gators, turtles, blue herons, wood storks, white egrets, an eagle's nest, and more. That great diversity of wildlife complimented the natural beauty of our Florida foliage.

***(I photographed this turtle taking his good 'ole time while my hubby was putting.)

The Eagle Has Landed... - Right on the Golf Course!

I was able to capture this incredible Eagle's nest while my husband was looking for that little white ball!
I was able to capture this incredible Eagle's nest while my husband was looking for that little white ball!

# 1 ~ A Bad Day at Golf is Better Than a Good Day at Work!

My Hubby ~ He's No Arnold Palmer!
My Hubby ~ He's No Arnold Palmer!

"A bad day at golf is better than a good day at work!" This is my number one reason to play golf at an Audubon course... or any other course for that matter! The great thing about golf is that you do not have to be a professional golfer to love the game. Most golfers I know simply play for the exercise and the social aspects - the scorecard is secondary. I find it to be a peaceful place, perfect for pondering the status of the world. So ladies, the next time your husband wants to play golf, don't fight it... join him!

***The above quote was taken from a tee-shirt my husband received from our daughter for Father's Day many years ago.

Raptor Bay ~ Bonita Springs, Florida
Raptor Bay ~ Bonita Springs, Florida

The Best Part About A "Green" Golf Course Is:

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Strange... But True!

A Goofy Game of Golf

While writing this article, I asked my hubby this question, "What was your most memorable experience on the golf course?" Since he's been golfing for nearly 50 years I thought he would really have to think about an answer. Not so. Immediately he responded and told me this true story.

Decades ago, when he lived in Greensboro, N.C., he went golfing on New Years Day with his 3 friends. During a backswing off the tee, the club hit my husband's buddy right in the face. He was knocked out cold! Stan, (my hubby) thought he was dead! Turns out it just knocked him for a loop, (as they say). He was only temporarily stunned. A few holes later... the same gentleman who was hit, made a hole-in-one!

Who says golf is a boring, non-eventful game?

This lens received the certified Purple Star Award on 5/19/14. It was chosen by Squidoo's editor's for having unique, creative content. Want to learn more about the qualifications for the prestigious Purple Star?

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