Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maintaining the Native Areas on the Course

Whether you love, like, or hate the naturalized areas on our golf course, they play an instrumental role in the our appearance and environmental success.  Many golf courses choose not to have naturalized areas on their property and those reasons could be limited space, desired look, desires of membership, or simply a lack of environmental interest.  For us though the naturalized areas provide movement corridors and nesting habitat for the wildlife that call Harrison Bay home, they filter fertilizer and pesticide residue before it can enter the surrounding waterways, and it reduces the amount of labor and water used to maintain these areas.

Naturalized areas are not intended to penalize the golfer and they do not indicate that the Agronomy Staff are lazy and don't want to maintain these areas, they are there for a reason and have been selected to enhance the golf course appearance and function.  While these areas are "low maintenance" they are not "no maintenance".  This week Mitch will be working to cut these areas down and get them prepared for fall.  It is a long process and with over 50 acres of naturalized areas it will take all week to get accomplished.

So how do naturalized areas help the environment? Well, as you may know our golf course is on a peninsula which is surrounded on three sides by the Tennessee River.  In order to ensure we do not contaminate the public waterway with any chemical, pesticide, or soil runoff or residue we maintain a vegetative buffer strip around the entire property.  This buffer strip extends 10-25 feet from the waterway into the golf course property.  This buffer strips acts as a filter to collect and trap pesticide residue as well as soil and grass clippings.  It also helps to protect the structure of the lake bank so that it does not degrade and fall off into the lake.

This photo is a prime example of what can happen if the vegetation at the waters edge is highly maintained and not allowed to grow to a proper height.  As you can see the soil on the lake bank is readily washed off into the lake, the structural integrity of the bank has been weakened and has begun to recede, and the water temperature along the shoreline is increased significantly reducing the survival rate of small water creatures such as frogs and salamanders.  The increased temperature of this shore transition area makes travel and egg laying in these areas nearly impossible.

Removing these areas from our weekly maintenance program where they would be mowed and irrigated on a routine basis is saving us a lot of money and resources.  Not maintaining these 50+ acres on a weekly basis means we save close to 700 gallons of diesel fuel per year and save close to 260 manhours per mowing season which can be spent elsewhere. As for irrigation savings we have calculated that we are eliminating close to 7.4 million gallons of water which would have to be applied to these areas during the normal 26 week mowing season that we have at Harrison Bay.  Big savings no matter how you look at it, for us and the environment.

Which ever look you like, the grown up look or this after it has been maintained, we hope you look at these areas as beneficial to the golf course and the environment and understand why we have these areas.  It is not because we are lazy and don't want to mow more grass and it is not because we want to make your round more difficult.  Every practice and program done on our course has a reason and I hope you better understand the reason behind the naturalized areas.

Happy Ball Hawking to everyone who will be searching through these areas trying to retrieve "their" wayward shots.

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