As the stewards of golf courses in New York State, superintendents are dedicated to protecting New York’s natural resources and maintaining these facilities in harmony with the natural environment. Therefore, the golf industry has established Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the state’s golf courses. Scientists from Cornell University have integrated the latest research to formulate BMPs specifically for New York’s climate and environment. These research-based, voluntary guidelines are designed to protect and preserve our water resources and enhance open space using current advances in golf turf management.
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The societal trend of increased environmental awareness has placed a heightened degree of scrutiny on the game of golf, particularly as it relates to the game’s impact on environmental concerns such as water quality and consumption, and pollinator habitat. This shift in attitudes heightens the scrutiny placed on the golf industry by environmental groups. That’s not a bad thing; we are all drinking the same water and our obligation to fulfill our social responsibility to protect valuable water resources should not be overlooked or taken lightly. But why should you, as a golfer, care about any of this? Beyond caring about protecting your water resources, you should also be concerned about protecting the game of golf. But how can these two interests effectively coexist? Enter the New York Golf Foundation (NYGCF). For over a decade, the NYGCF has helped bridge the gap between golf and non-golf stakeholders by developing the New York Best Management Practices (BMPs) for golf and using these science-based standards to advocate, on golf’s behalf, to legislators and regulators in the state of New York, and assist golf course superintendents in their role as environmentally conscious land managers. The New York Golf Course Foundation is the sustainable 501c3 nonprofit that evolved from the New York State Best Management Practices initiative. The success of the BMP efforts is a direct result of the partnership of golf course superintendent leaders in the state and Cornell University scientists. This initiative codified standards and actively demonstrates the voluntary implementation of BMPs for the protection of natural resources on golf courses. These efforts are designed to continue expanding the reach and increasing the value of environmental stewardship to all stakeholders, regulators, and policy makers.
What is a BMP?
All of this sounds great, but you might be asking “What, specifically, are BMPs?” Best Management Practices are methods or techniques found to be the most effective and practical means of achieving an objective, such as preventing water pollution or reducing pesticide usage. Many BMPs reduce stormwater volume, peak flow, and nonpoint source pollution through evapotranspiration, infiltration, detention, filtering, as well as biological and chemical actions. This new guidance provides information for using BMPs to prevent or minimize the effects of golf course management on surface and groundwater to insure and enhance public health and environmental quality. Pollution prevention is easier, less expensive, and more effective than addressing problems “downstream.” A significant body of research exists that indicates successful implementation of BMPs virtually eliminates the golf course risk to water quality. In fact, several studies have shown that implementing BMPs enhances water quality on its journey on and through the golf course property. Essentially, BMPs are a sustainable approach to providing environmental, economic, and social benefits to golf and society.
How are BMPs used?
Combined, these BMP’s form the NY Facility BMP Document. This document was written by Cornell scientists and reviewed by superintendents, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and non-industry stakeholders and is designed to be adopted as a template for golf facilities around the state of New York. Most of the BMP document is research-based information that is not written as law. Essentially, it is a volunteer-based initiative. This effort will eventually lead to verified recognition that superintendents and the properties they are entrusted to maintain are having a positive impact on the environment.
The NYGCF’s latest efforts are primarily focused on helping superintendents adopt Golf BMPs at the facility level. In a broad sense, facility BMP adoption will be the most important undertaking of the entire BMP initiative and will significantly influence the golf industry’s relationships with state lawmakers, regulators, and environmental stakeholders. We’ve already experienced wide ranging acceptance of the golf BMPs in Albany as well as various local governments around the state. To sustain this acceptance, we will need to provide evidence that the golf industry has embraced the BMP document by formally adopting it at the facility level. This process is made easy by using the Golf Course Superintendent Association’s (GCSAA) BMP tool, made available to all GCSAA members.
We’re Here to Help Golf Grow!
The NYGCF continually supports superintendents by providing educational seminars, videos, and blog content. This content is wide ranging and includes; a series of how to videos describing ways superintendents can reduce their environmental impact with very little to no cost or effort; videos designed to assist superintendents to navigate the facility BMP document adoption process; videos describing the importance of formally adopting BMPs at golf facilities, plus much more valuable content.
Ultimately, we hope the entire golf community recognizes its social responsibilities to protect our water resources by becoming familiar with and supporting the NY Golf BMP initiative. For more information, please go to the New York Golf Course Foundation’s website (nysgolfbmp.cals.cornell.edu) to peruse through the BMP related content and go to our New York Golf Course Foundation YouTube channel to view our golf BMP related video content.