So the question is: "Is it possible for a golf course to be 'green?'"
In October 2008, we discussed celebrity Justin Timberlake's green plans for Big Creek Golf Course, and last week, some of these plans came to fruition. At the press conference on Friday, Timberlake discussed his experiment to green a golf course, and decided that it can successfully be done (see video below). Located just north of downtown Memphis, the newly renovated, par-72 course is now called Mirimichi, which means "place of happy retreat," and features 7,400 yards of play.
Mirimichi was the first golf course Justin Timberlake played on, and he and his family bought the property in 2007. Since that time, according to Commercial Appeal, the purchase group has invested roughly $16 million to completely overhaul everything about the course. While the group is working towards LEED Platinum certification for the buildings in 2011, they're also planning to make Mirimichi the world's first golf course to calculate its own footprint.
Moreover, Mirimichi is the first golf course in the United States to be designated as a certified Audubon International Classic Sanctuary. To qualify for the Classic Program, according to a press release, "Mirimichi implemented sustainable resource management principles that incorporate wildlife conservation, habitat rehabilitation and enhancement, water conservation, and water quality protection."
The Classic Program also requires a yearly audit to ensure that the natural resource management principles are being practiced, and all Mirimichi employees are trained in environmental stewardship. The course has some of the following green elements:
- Reflective coatings on parking lots to reduce the heat footprint;
- Landscape areas that capture and reuse rainwater runoff;
- Used native grass areas, waste bunkers, and enhanced water acreage to reduce manicured acreage from 195 acres to 100 acres;
- Irrigation system that reduces water usage by maximizing water management efficiency; and
- Lake areas and re-circulating creeks to create a habitat for the ecosystem.
Now, after hearing about the Mirimichi makeover, don't you agree that a golf course can be green?
Some environmentalists argue that there's nothing green about golf — a logical argument based on the amount of water used to keep these places going. But the same environmentalists might also agree that Mirimichi has invested in strategies to take the same environmental impact out of the game.
Personally, if I could ever get past my quadruple-bogey hacker status, I'd take a trip out to Mirimichi and shake the man's hand for pursuing a strong business strategy that minimizes the course's impact on the environment. Plus, for those of you that like to get out and walk a round early Saturday morning — call it a natural walk with expensive walking sticks — wouldn't you rather do it at a place that invests in sustainability. I know I would.