Minnesota Valley Country Club’s Leader in Land Stewardship
By Bruce Stasch
When it comes to environmental stewardship, golf courses sometimes get a bad rap. Critics complain that they use too much water and pour on too many chemicals. While there may still be some Minnesota courses that deserve this criticism, environmental advocates like Mike Brower of Minnesota Valley Country Club are on a mission to change that.
As a golf course superintendent, he is a huge advocate of good land stewardship practices. He was green before green was in. “Good land stewardship is a movement bigger than just the local course,” says Brower, “it affects the wider community in which the course is located and courses need to promote their success.”
As a part of the leadership at Minnesota Valley Country Club (MVCC) in Bloomington, Minnesota, Brower doesn’t just talk good land stewardship practices. He lives them. He holds a degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota and a turf science degree from Penn State. Originally thinking he was going to work for the EPA or the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, he found his way onto a golf course and never looked back.
Before taking the helm at MVCC, he worked at the Minikahda Country Club in Minneapolis for twelve years. Both courses were among the first to join the Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuaries program in 1991. Mike is the first recipient of the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association’s Environmental Leader Award and just received the 2008 Environmental Leader National Merit Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).
As part of the Audubon International’s program, MVCC has seen its water usage go down and its chemical usage drop. They’ve instituted stricter safety standards, have an active recycling program, take greater care in the disposal of their hazardous wastes and reach out to the community promoting their activities. During the season, Brower communicates with the membership through a humorous video blog and an ongoing schedule of environmental events throughout the year.
“The membership has been very supportive of these efforts. If they didn’t think that these programs were worthwhile, I would hear about it from them,” stated Brower. “They see that our work here pays dividends in better water quality, abundant wildlife habitat and a more beautiful course. It really makes the members proud of their involvement with Minnesota Valley Country Club.”
Although Brower recently won an Environmental Leader in Golf National Merit Award from the GCSAA, he is already mapping out a plan to win the top prize. “The National Merit Award is very nice, but we’re already planning for next year’s competition.” Mother Nature should be very proud of Mike Brower.