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Anthony Williams earns top environmental leader honor from GCSAA

by Dec 28, 2017 | Angela Hartmann

Lawrence, Kan. (Dec. 19, 2017) – Anthony L. Williams, CGCS, director of golf and landscape operations at TPC Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Irving, Texas, has been chosen as the Overall and National Private recipient of the 2017 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA), which are presented annually by GCSAA and Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta.

The awards recognize golf course superintendents and their courses for overall course management excellence and best management practices in the areas of water conservation, water quality management, energy conservation, pollution prevention, waste management, wildlife and habitat conservation, communication and outreach, and leadership.

Williams, a 21-year member of GCSAA, is joined by fellow golf course superintendents and GCSAA members Jay Neunsinger of Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Scott Main, CGCS at Mauna Kea Resort in Kohala Coast, Hawaii, as national honorees. Neunsinger is the National Public course winner, while Main won for National Resort course.

The winners will be recognized Tuesday, Feb. 6, during the Opening Celebration of the 2018 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Winners will also be featured in upcoming issues of Golf Digest and GCSAA's official monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine.

“The ELGA winners are to be commended for their commitment to environmental stewardship on the golf course,” said Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “They are a testament to the idea that golf courses can be compatible with environment, and in many cases, enhance it.”

Williams is no stranger to the winners’ circle. He was named the Overall and National Public winner in 2006 for his work at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club. He is the only “triple crown” winner of the ELGAs, having also won the National Resort award in 2005 while at Renaissance PineIsle Resort and Golf Club in Sugar Hill, Ga. He has won numerous other environmental awards as well, including the GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2010.

Williams’ upbringing on the family farm in Indian Creek, Ga., where six generations of his family have lived, set the stage for his environmentally focused career.

“I’m part Cherokee, that was my upbringing -- take care of the land, the land will take care of you,” Williams said. “I don’t remember not having that as a part of my professional DNA.”

At TPC Four Seasons, water conservation is the cornerstone of the environmental program. One hundred percent of the water used on the course is reclaimed and comes from the Dallas County Utility and Reclamation. Williams’ staff attends 20 hours of water conservation training annually, and each year he presents the “Golden Hose” award to the member of his team who is the best manager of water.

Williams’ integrated pest management (IPM) program is bolstered by a “war room” that’s equipped with a microscope, diagnostic tools, resource materials and more. This year, the same year the club hosted the AT&T Byron Nelson PGA Classic, the maintenance team exceeded its IPM goals and saved $28,450 by reducing the use of chemicals and fertilizers. Williams is actively involved in spreading golf’s environmental message in the Dallas area. He averages 26 presentations a year to homeowners associations, school groups and other organizations.

“I want to show that, as superintendents, we want to create memorable golf,” Williams said. “But how much more special is it when you have those encounters with wildlife?”

In 2014, Neunsinger and the team at Boundary Oak joined a REV Sustainability Circle, a comprehensive six-month learning program. From that, Neunsinger has implemented many large- and small-scale initiatives focused on energy conservation, including a property-wide switch to LED lights, motion detector lighting throughout the clubhouse and maintenance facility, and the installation of 1,080 solar panels. The panels have already generated 351 kilowatts of power, which has covered all the electrical needs on the property.

Neunsinger’s IPM program is site-specific, and the detailed plan includes management of the turfgrass, water features and the 1,700 trees on the course. Pest scouting and mapping have been in place since 2009, and overall insecticide applications have gone down 17 percent since 2010.

Main’s Mauna Kea Resort is the oldest resort and oldest golf course on the Big Island of Hawaii. Its position right on the Pacific Ocean presents unique challenges, not only in compatibility with the marine ecosystem, but also because of soil that contains crushed lava and an average annual rainfall of 4.2 inches. Transitioning the course from bermudagrass to paspalum, which is salt-tolerant and requires less water, is just one aspect of the water conservation program.

In keeping with the Hawaiian culture’s dedication to wildlife, Main has partnered with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to rope off areas and display signage to protect nesting nene, Hawaii’s state bird and the world’s rarest goose. In the past three years, the course’s nene population has increased by 300 percent. Ocean wildlife is important too, and Mauna Kea participates in an ongoing study with the University of Hawai’i at Hilo to help gauge Mauna Kea’s water quality and its effect on coral reefs.

In addition to the national winners, 15 chapter winners and four merit winners were chosen from GCSAA’s 99 affiliated chapters.

ELGA chapter winners (facility, location, chapter)

  • Stephen Britton, CGCS, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, Potomac, Md., Mid-Atlantic AGCS
  • Mark Condos, Las Positas Golf Course, Livermore, Calif., GCSA of Northern California
  • Matthew Gourlay, CGCS, Colbert Hills Golf Course, Manhattan, Kan., Heart of America GCSA
  • Gary L. Heath, Glendoveer Golf and Tennis, Portland, Ore., Oregon GCSA
  • Gary Ingram, CGCS, Metropolitan Golf Links, Oakland, Calif., California GCSA
  • Bobby Jaeger, Lake Tahoe Golf Course, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Sierra Nevada GCSA
  • Andrew Jorgensen, CGCS, Candler Hills Golf Club, Ocala, Fla., Florida GCSA
  • Mark Krick, CGCS, Fox Hollow and Homestead Golf Courses, Lakewood, Colo., Rocky Mountain GCSA
  • Mark D. Kuhns, CGCS, Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, N.J., New Jersey GCSA
  • Wayne Mills, La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara, Calif., GCSA of Southern California
  • Jim Pavonetti, CGCS, Fairview Country Club, Greenwich, Conn., Metropolitan GCSA
  • Charles "Roby" Robertson IV, CGCS, TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Ariz., Cactus & Pine GCSA
  • Ian Schlather, TPC River's Bend, Maineville, Ohio, Greater Cincinnati GCSA
  • Carl D Thompson, CGCS, Columbia Point Golf Course, Richland, Wash., Inland Empire GCSA
  • Marc Weston, CGCS, Indian Hill Country Club, Newington, Conn., Connecticut AGCS

ELGA merit winners (facility, location, chapter)

  • Michael Bednar, Palouse Ridge Golf Club, Pullman, Wash., Inland Empire GCSA
  • Dave Davies, CGCS, TPC Stonebrae, Hayward, Calif., GCSA of Northern California
  • Troy Flanagan, The Olympic Club, San Francisco, Calif., GCSA of Northern California
  • Darin Pakkala, Crystal Springs Golf Course, Burlingame, Calif., California GCSA