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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52 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.18 Left: Boudary Oak GC in Walnut Creek, Calif., is one of the Bay Area's most popular public courses, attracting more than 67,000 rounds annually. Photos courtesy of Jay Neunsinger Top: Neunsinger, a 16-year GCSAA member, has led maintenance efforts at Boundary Oak for three years. Among his most notable environmental accomplishments there has been the addition of four beehives inside a high-fenced bee apiary (bottom). Jay Neunsinger Boundary Oak Golf Course Walnut Creek, Calif. National Public winner Among golf enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boundary Oak Golf Course in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco proper, is well known as one of the region's most popular tracks, attracting more than 67,000 rounds annually. What may not be as well known among the players drawn to Boundary Oak's setting amid the foothills of the Diablo Mountain Range is the facility's standing as one of golf 's true environmental success stories, a reputation reinforced this year by Neunsinger's selec - tion as the 2017 ELGA National Public winner. "Like most superintendents, I believe that we are stewards of the land," Neunsinger wrote in his ELGA application. "Every decision we make has the environment as the first factor that we look at and consider." A study of Neunsinger's accomplishments at Boundary Oak proves that he not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Take water conservation, for example. When he arrived at the facility three years ago, the region was entering its third consecutive year of extreme drought, conditions that were taking their toll on the course's playing surfaces as well as on the water resources that Boundary Oak counts on for its survival. So, among his first tasks on the job was the creation of a drought management plan for the club, one that could help keep grass alive even when Boundary Oak's usual water supplies were taxed. Among a host of other moves, he brought in an outside irrigation con - sultant to evaluate the course's existing system, leaned heavily on staff training to break old habits and create better new ones, and increased his reliance on tools such as his on-site weather station, wetting agents and handheld moisture meters. The results? In his three years at Boundary Oak, the course has reduced its water use by more than 25 percent, from 113 million gallons in 2013 to 85 million in 2016. The achievements don't end there. Neunsinger inherited a comprehensive, site-specific IPM plan with property-wide thresholds for pests, and since 2010, Boundary Oak has re - duced insecticide applications by 17 percent. In 2017, the course completed installation of more than 1,000 solar panels that now generate enough electricity to cover half of the facil - ity's needs. A property-wide recycling effort — inspired by Boundary Oak's participation in a REV Sustainability Circle in 2014, a learning program that allows businesses to improve their environmental performance by shar- ing best practices with other like-minded organizations — has resulted in a 38 per - cent reduction in the facility's landfill input over the past two years. Boundary Oak's wildlife habitat efforts have also made headlines. The course has been a certified Audubon International Wildlife Sanctuary since 2012. Since his ar - rival, Neunsinger has worked closely with a local bluebird recovery program, and there are 26 bluebird boxes on the property, which has helped Boundary Oak increase its fledged bird count from 211 in 2010 to 441 in 2017. Among Neunsinger's most notable ac - complishments has been his involvement in beekeeping. A member of the Mount Dia - blo Beekeepers Society, Neunsinger and his team created a high-fenced bee apiary that houses four beehives and is surrounded by pollinator-friendly plants. Educational sig - nage is prominently placed near the apiary to inform golfers of the facility's efforts, and Neunsinger has partnered with the First Tee of Contra Costa to showcase ways golf can benefit pollinators through a series of presentations and educational sessions for young, up-and-coming golfers.

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