Since Borden Golf Club at CFB Borden has been in operation for 62 years, general manager Gary Corriveau is keenly aware of how technological advances have allowed golf courses to increase sustainable practices over time. Advances relate to the availability of natural products, the evolution of mechanical turf-management practices, and even changing golfer expectations.
For example, the fertilizer currently used at Borden is made of emulsified waste from fish plants and is scented with peppermint oil to make is more aesthetically pleasing. Integrated Pest Management practices in use are based on the selection of physical or natural methods for pest and weed control, prior to considering the use of targeted applications of artificial products.
The way turf is managed contributes significantly to the sustainability of a golf course. The Borden Golf Course is maintained in what is called “parkland style” which means that it is cut out of the bush and has many naturally-shaded areas. Grass that is shaded requires less water. Other practices include choice of seed, leaving clippings on the grass to compost and act as fertilizer, increasing areas that are naturalized, and leaving native plants to act as buffers between courses and waterways. Borden Golf Club has increased the naturalized area by 20%, in part by narrowing the width of fairways. Full cutting has also been reduced, as grass heights that are too low make turf vulnerable to drought, weed growth and disease. Along the side of all fairways, rough areas are cut less often and kept at higher heights for this reason.
Not only do these current practices have environmental benefits, they also save costs related to labour, raw materials, and fuel. To minimize water use, watering is focused more on the greens and T-decks and less on the fairways. Hand watering target areas allows for further reductions in water use.
Wildlife is ever-present on the Borden Golf course and on the military base. Borden Golf Club also has an area dedicated to house a colony of bees that includes five hives. Over time, the meadow where the bees reside has experienced an explosion of wildflower growth due to the presence of these pollinators.
In the clubhouse, environmental practices include diversion of organics and recycling from the waste stream and collection of used cooking oil. While Borden previously had to pay to have cooking oil collected, changing markets have now made this a small revenue generator. Support for local businesses and local providers is evident in the choices offered at the restaurant.
Energy and water usage is tracked to identify possible efficiencies and cost savings. Use of a programmable thermostat supports this. Water conservation measures include the use of low flow toilets, low flow showerheads and faucet aerators. The golf course has an electronic waste policy to make sure materials are disposed of in a responsible fashion. The clubhouse at Borden was built to meet energy-efficiency standards in 2004, and as lighting needs replacing, it is updated to meet current standards. Outdoor lighting makes use of LED bulbs.
Golf cart paths are made of gravel, a surface that allows water to filter back into the ground instead of running off into waterways and potentially taking pollutants with it. Of importance is the effort to update and train staff on business sustainability, something that occurs regularly at the Borden Golf Course.
Borden Golf Club is open to the public and is a popular location for tournaments. The adjoining conference facilities are available for events, including weddings, celebrations and business meetings.
About The Author – Aileen MacMillan holds an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo, and has worked as an independent consultant on environmental projects related to waste management, water quality protection, and environmental education. She has many years of experience working in small business and working collaboratively with teams and individual stakeholders.