PGA TOUR’s TPC Twin Cities honored with GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf National Private Award and “100 Best Golf Shops” Award
By Libby Mehaffey
Underscoring the PGA TOUR’s commitment to environmental excellence, the TOUR’s TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, MN – home to the Champions Tour’s 3M Championship – has been named the National Private Award Winner in the annual Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA)/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards for 2009. The club was recognized alongside TPC Twin Cities Golf Course Superintendent Roger Stewart, Jr., CGCS. This is the sixth consecutive year that TPC Twin Cities has been honored with an Environmental Leaders in Golf Award.
“We are very proud of Roger and his outstanding team of maintenance and agronomy professionals at TPC Twin Cities, who continue to demonstrate a sincere and unwavering commitment to preserve and protect the environment while conserving precious natural resources,” said TPC Regional Director of Operations and TPC Twin Cities PGA General Manager/Director of Golf Alan Cull.
An independent panel of judges representing national environmental groups, turf grass experts, university researchers and members of the golf community conducted the award selection. Superintendents and their courses were judged on overall course management excellence in the areas of resource conservation, water quality management, integrated pest management, wildlife/habitat management and education/outreach. Additionally, these categories were judged on sustainability, criticality, originality and technology implementation/use.
“The 2009 ELGA winners do a tremendous job of highlighting the importance of environmental stewardship in golf, as well as the environmental leadership of GCSAA members,” said GCSAA President Mark D. Kuhns, CSCS. “The winners, along with their facilities, have demonstrated that golf courses can be compatible with the environment, and in many cases enhance it.”
A 34-year GCSAA member, Stewart and his team used rain sensors, soil moisture meters and evapotranspiration rates to reduce the golf course’s water usage by 28% between 2007 and 2008. Through aggressive aerification and vericutting to reduce thatch levels and improve water infiltration, Stewart was able to maintain the same water usage levels in 2009, despite a continued drought that left the area’s precipitation eight inches below normal. Additionally, in an effort to establish sustainable wetland ecosystems in each pond, Stewart and his team worked to stabilize pond banks, provide a food source for wildlife and increase the quality of the wetland areas at TPC Twin Cities.
Through a partnership with the Bluebird Recovery Program, Stewart maintains a bluebird trail consisting of 24 bluebird houses throughout the golf course, in addition to duck and bat nesting sites. Meanwhile, wildlife piles of brush and logs placed throughout the property provide a sanctuary for fox, rabbits, squirrels, birds and other animals. Other environmentally responsible measures taken at TPC Twin Cities include the use of a geothermal environmental control system in the clubhouse that produces energy savings of 50 percent.
Stewart is a member of the Anoka County Airport Wildlife Commission, conducts Anoka Technical College’s horticulture program golf course tours, and hosts seminars for John Deere Company. Stewart’s staff also visits a local elementary school each year to teach fifth graders the basics of turfgrass and seed biology.
Stewart and TPC Twin Cities were formally recognized on February 9 during the GCSAA Education Conference, held in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show in San Diego, CA. During the Conference, it was announced that TPC Twin Cities has also been selected as TPC Network Golf Course Maintenance Operation of the Year for 2009.
In addition to these awards, TPC Twin Cities was recently recognized for its golf retailing excellence when it was honored with a “100 Best Golf Shops” award by Golf World magazine. The club features an expansive full-service golf shop featuring the latest golf apparel and equipment, along with custom club fitting.
Named by Golf Digest among the best courses in the state, TPC Twin Cities’ championship golf course was designed by Arnold Palmer to blend seamlessly with the natural rolling terrain on the site of a former sod farm 15 miles north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. PGA TOUR player and Minnesota native Tom Lehman served as player consultant on the design of the course, which features Bentgrass tees, fairways and greens, native prairie grasses, picturesque wetlands and 27 bodies of water, all framed by stately stands of mature oak, spruce and pine trees. Like the other clubs within the PGA TOUR’s TPC Network, TPC Twin Cities is certified as an official Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System by Audubon International.