Maintaining a perfectly manicured lawn or healthy garden used to involve hours of work, countless litres of water and potentially harmful chemicals. But the eco-friendly fairways and gardens at Victoria Park East and Victoria Park Valley golf courses prove that, even on a professional level, it really is possible to “go green”.
Club Manager John DeCorso takes pride in Victoria Park Golf Clubs’ commitment to developing and implementing green initiatives.
Here’s how Victoria Park is staying green on the greens.
Focusing on water conservation
Rising temperatures, dryer summers, and the public scrutiny of Guelph’s most precious resource, water, have created a demand for environmentally responsible irrigation methods. Victoria Park’s water conservation strategy consists of only watering when and where necessary, increasing the storage holding capacity of irrigation ponds, and capturing storm water more effectively. The environmental benefit? When there are drought conditions, irrigation ponds will be the main source of irrigation to lessen the demand for groundwater.
Having a fully computerized irrigation system that can adjust for rain events, and will even turn off the irrigation system during the night if there is enough rain, is also a benefit. This system constantly monitors the soil moisture and only waters specific areas of the golf course, instead of watering large sections at once.
One of the most important aspects of Victoria Park’s water conservation strategy is to inform golfers that it is okay to see brown grass during drought conditions.
Reducing pesticide use
Victoria Park East and Victoria Park Valley Golf Clubs are committed to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and are fully accredited with the IPM Council of Ontario. They have always strived to maintain the best possible growing conditions for healthy turfgrass, with the goal to reduce the use of pesticides. Pesticides are used as a last resort, primarily for treating diseases that affect the turf. “Pesticides are a huge expense to us and can disrupt play. We have every incentive to reduce the amount used on a yearly basis,” says DeCorso. Newer pesticides used are more eco-friendly products that do not persist in the environment, and will only impact the intended target. The golf courses work very closely with the Guelph Turfgrass Institute – a world-class facility that researches new turfgrass varieties and maintenance products that are environmentally sustainable.
Bringing back the bees
The Canadian Wildlife Federation reports that bee populations are declining due to factors such as insecticide and pesticide use, as well as habitat loss. This is a critical problem because without bees and other pollinators our farms, vegetable gardens, flowerbeds and woodlands will suffer greatly. The apiaries at Victory Park East and Victoria Park Valley are a perfect example of how these sheltered areas help protect the bees. DeCorso explains that at each course, bee boxes are carefully placed so the golfers don’t bother the bees, and the bees don’t bother the golfers. What began as a modest project has resulted in a thriving bee colony, and the team plans to continue building. “We intend to keep this going. The population for certain types of bees is pretty stressed out. Whatever we can do to help, we’re there.”
Victoria Park is also committed to improving the wildlife habitat on both properties. Both golf courses have an abundance of wildlife, and this is part of the golfing experience. The properties have large naturalized areas that provide shelter and food for all types of wildlife. These areas have been used to erect nesting boxes to attract native bird and plant desirable trees, shrubs, and flowering plants for birds and pollinators. The apiaries are also located in these areas. Existing rock piles have been preserved at the Valley course to create snake overwintering habitat.
Other Green Programs
Victoria Park Golf Clubs have continued their green philosophy to other aspects of the facility including the clubhouse. Monitoring energy consumption and lighting retrofit programs, careful use of water use in and around the clubhouse, recycle programs and kitchen waste composting have all contributed to a sense of “green pride” among the staff and management. Many of these programs can be implemented at any small business or home.