RENSLOW: Blending recreation and responsibility |

RENSLOW: Blending recreation and responsibility

For many golfers, every day is ‘earth day.’

Officially, Earth Day takes place Sunday. Of course, not a recognized holiday (although a good enough excuse for an outdoor party with some friends), this observance began in the late 1960’s with the intention of “inspiring awareness of and appreciation for the environment.”

Folks can politicize an issue no matter which side of the aisle. Please do not misunderstand, this column does not lean left or right. Golf is apolitical. The benefits of the game are recreation, competition and camaraderie.

Yet, it is a good reminder for all of us to appreciate the architecture and manicured landscapes of golf courses around the world. Most golfers revere words like honor and integrity, it is reasonable to assume that our respect of each other must include a responsibility for our environment.

In order to sustain these beautiful places, conservation, waste reduction and habitat management, should be considered when managing golf course maintenance.

In fact, one local club is a Certified Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary. It is a commendable effort to provide a quality product to its patrons and respect the environment in which we live.

According to Audubon International, the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP) is “an award winning education and certification program that helps golf courses protect our environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf. 

By helping people enhance the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide, improve efficiency, and minimize potentially harmful impacts of golf operations, the ACSP serves as vital resource for golf courses”.

Now, some have said that a golf course is not good for the environment. Perhaps the land is no longer in its original state or a certain amount of inorganic material is used to maintain playing conditions.

However, as mentioned, golf courses are aesthetically pleasing, they also provide a type of open space, host myriads of living species (some, in fact, are havens for endangered or protected species), and are an enjoyable place of recreation.

Numerous advances have been made in materials used to maintain golf properties. For example, grass types are continually being bred to require less water and reduce sensitivity to temperature extremes, as well as a greater use of organic materials.

We often use that word ‘beautiful’ loosely or for dramatic emphasis. The evidence, however, shows that many 18-hole rounds are played on some of the globe’s premier real estate. Pebble Beach Golf Links, Nirwana Golf Club in Bali, Kapalua Golf Club, the Gokarna Forest in Nepal, and Edgewood, Lake Tahoe are among the most picturesque locations and possess breathtaking views.

One can even find a couple of local clubs with wonderful photo opportunities; fairways lined with majestic pines, spotted with freshwater ponds, and babbling brooks that satisfy the ear as well as the eye.

Kudos to Sean O’Brien and the golf course maintenance crew at the Alta Sierra Country Club. Sean and the boys keep the Best Course in Nevada County (as voted by The Union readers) in great shape while always remembering a responsibility we have toward our environment.

John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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