Golf Course Management

FEB 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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50 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.18 doubt. But he says he had two key advantages in making that happen. First, he'd done it before. His Overall and National Public awards in 2006 at Stone Mountain came just a year after he'd taken over operations at that Marriott property. And second, he inherited a facility and a maintenance team in Texas that were already doing a lot of the right things when it came to sustainable practices. "My predecessors here (Scott Abernathy, Ph.D., now the corporate director of agron - omy for Omni Resorts, and before him, John Cunningham, CGCS, now the general man- ager at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pa.) had done great work. The core pro- grams were in place," Williams says. "That allowed me to come in and expand on what was already working, and focus on things that have been my trademarks — nest boxes, feeders, supplemental habitats, thinks like that." It also let him focus on fully implementing his signature environomics, which is simply a strategy of connecting sustainability efforts on the golf course directly to the facility's bottom line. As Williams described it in his ELGA application, "We integrate our envi - ronmental plan into our financial plan, enabling us to create a world-class golf experience within our urban green space that is sustainable environmentally and financially. In 2017, our programs saved $98,389.73." The examples of the connection between sustainability and economics are easy to spot throughout the operations at TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club. Through a series of water conservation efforts — including pump station upgrades and an emphasis on hand- watering and scouting — Williams estimates the facility saved $34,000 in water costs last year. An intense integrated pest management program — centered around an "IPM war room" complete with microscopes, diagnostic tools, and information on the property's IPM history — shed more than $28,000 from the club's chemical/fertilizer expenses. A new turf care facility that opened in 2016 with all the latest energy-saving bells and whistles saved another $14,000. Even recycling efforts around the maintenance department have a measurable, bottom-line impact (those saved $3,338 in 2017). 'Many voices, one song' Putting TPC Four Season Golf and Sports Club in a position to win the Overall ELGA in Williams' first year on the job was a tall task, he readily admits. Doing all that while also preparing to host a PGA Tour event of the stature of the Byron Nelson? Well, that was something else altogether. That's why Williams preaches the value of teamwork, of involving every member of the maintenance staff — from his assistants down to a part-time laborer — in sustain - ability endeavors, so that each can speak as eloquently as he does about what they're doing and why they're doing it. "The only way I could see all of this hap - pening in my first year here was to have ev- erybody ... fully able and ready to contrib- ute," Williams says. "I tried to just conduct the orchestra, make sure people were in the right place at the right time, and just en - courage their growth. The whole team de- serves the credit for what we were able to accomplish in hosting the tournament and in winning this award." And they don't keep those accomplish - ments a secret. As mentioned, Williams believes in celebrating successes, both inter - nally and externally. Inside the walls of the maintenance department, that often means recognizing outstanding environmental efforts and innovation at regularly sched - uled meetings or through the presenta- tion of special staff awards — the "Golden Hose," for example, goes annually to the team member who is the best manager of water assets. Golfers and members get a guided tour of the facility's sustainability efforts while they're chasing that little white ball around the golf course, thanks to signage that iden - tifies wildlife habitat and pollinator gar- dens, and that explains how the course is irrigated and the sources of that water. Wil - liams and team also have an open-door pol- icy for those who may have questions about golf course management practices or just want to poke around the trophy case that is Williams' office. And Williams never shies away from a chance to take his message outside the golf course, to school groups, civic organizations and homeowners associations curious about golf course management and how it coex - ists with the natural world. He makes more than 25 such presentations annually. "Our motto is, 'Many voices, one song,'" Williams wrote in his ELGA application. "We are tireless ambassadors for steward - ship, our green space and the game of golf." Williams says winning the Overall and National Private ELGAs and hosting a PGA Tour event in his first year on the job at TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club was the ultimate team effort. "The only way I could see all of this happening in my first year here was to have everybody ... fully able and ready to contribute," he says. Photo courtesy of Anthony Williams

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