The GCSAA/Golf Digest awards honor golf course superintendents for their commitment to environmental stewardship
Lawrence, Kan. (Jan. 7, 2020) – Twelve golf course superintendents have been named winners of the 2019 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA), which are presented annually by GCSAA and Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta.
The awards have recognized superintendents and golf courses around the world for their commitment to environmental stewardship since 1993, but in 2018 the ELGAs were updated to recognize more superintendents in more focused areas of environmental sustainability. Instead of offering national awards based on facility type, the new version of the ELGAs is based on the environmental best management practices and honor specific areas of focus.
- The Natural Resource Conservation Award recognizes effective strategies for water conservation, energy conservation, and sound wildlife management.
- The Healthy Land Stewardship Award recognizes effective strategies for efficient use of pesticides and nutrients as well as pollution prevention.
- The Communications and Outreach Award recognizes effective communication of conservation strategies with facility employees and others as well as share their efforts with golfers and other members of the community.
- The Innovative Conservation Award recognizes unique and innovative strategies for conservation.
“The ELGAs reflect the golf course management industry’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship,” said GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. “Congratulations to all the winners. They are great examples of how superintendents can manage their courses in ways that benefit the entire communities they serve.”
The 2019 ELGA winners include:
Natural Resource Conservation Award
Matthew Gourlay, CGCS, MG
Colbert Hills Golf Course
Matthew Gourlay is a third-generation superintendent and the second member of his family to oversee operations at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan., where he is director of golf course operations. The 18-hole championship golf course affiliated with Kansas State University sits in the Kansas Flint Hills.
Gourlay, a 17-year GCSAA member who also won the 2018 ELGA for Innovative Conservation, has been pushing the envelope to make Colbert Hills more environmentally sustainable for more than 15 years. In that time, his team has increased the amount of native areas by more than 100 acres, thus saving 72 million gallons of water per year. In all, 206 acres of the course consist of native areas. In addition, he implemented an energy conservation program that resulted in a 58-percent energy reduction and a saving of $20,000 a year.
First runner-up in the Natural Resource Conservation category is Jim Pavonetti, CGCS at Fairview Country Club in Greenwich, Conn. The second runner-up is Jeffrey Reich, superintendent at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
Healthy Land Stewardship Award
Gary Ingram, CGCS
Metropolitan Golf Links
Gary Ingram, director of agronomy at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, Calif., has a long track record of environmental excellence. He has been recognized with ELGAs in 2014 and 2018 and is the 2020 winner of GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship.
The 18-hole golf course that opened in 2003, sits on a former landfill and is one of the last refuges for native plants and wildlife in an industrial area. Ingram’s goal is to keep its 120 acres environmentally healthy and manages the course through a Sustainability Action Plan and IPM program. The 39-year GCSAA member and his team consider the environment in every aspect of course management from how they store their products, wash the equipment, make product applications, and focus their overall maintenance practices to benefit the community.
First runner-up in the Healthy Land Stewardship Award category is Wayne Mills, superintendent at La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara, Calif., with second runner-up honors going to Carl D. Thompson, CGCS at Columbia Point Golf Course in Richland, Wash.
Communications and Outreach Award
Gustin Golf Course
The mission of Gustin Golf Course is to serve the students, staff and alumni of the University of Missouri, and Isaac Breuer makes sure those it serves also understand how it provides more for the college town’s community than just a recreational option.
In the last five years, Breuer has hosted course tours for more than 50 local science teachers, students from the Boys and Girls of Columbia, 4-H clubs, Master Gardner groups, the Missouri Department of Conservation and more. For the student groups, the tours include four educational stations that teach about wildflower identification, making seed balls and beekeeping. He also works with the MU Sustainability Office to promote the environmental efforts at the course on social media. All these efforts have garnered recognition including the Mayor’s Award for Environmental Protection, Grow Native Ambassador Award and the Blazing Star Award from the local chapter of the Missouri Native Plant Society.
First runner-up in the Communication and Outreach category is Ryan Kraushofer, superintendent and general manager at Westminster (Md.) National Golf Course, with second runner-up honors going to Eric Verellen, superintendent at Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course in Fall City, Wash.
Innovative Conservation Award
Boundary Oak Golf Course
Walnut Creek, Calif.
Set against the foothills of Mt. Diablo, Boundary Oak Golf Course is an 18-hole public golf course that opened in 1969 and currently supports 67,000 rounds of golf per year. Neunsinger and his staff have 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.
Since the addition of the solar panels in 2017, the 18-year GCSAA member is expanding the energy-saving footprint even more with the installation of eight vehicle charging stations later this spring. Neunsinger won a national ELGA in 2017 and that same year was named the GCSA of Northern California’s Superintendent of the Year.
First runner-up in the Innovative Conservation category is Shannon Easter, golf course maintenance director at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla. Second runner-up is Christopher Flick, director of grounds operations at Cog Hill Country Club in Lemont, Ill.
The winners will be recognized Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the 2020 Golf Industry Show in Orlando. Winners will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Golf Digest and in the February issue of GCSAA's official monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine.