TPC Sawgrass, Florida DEP to host environment seminar

February 23, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Northeast District Office will partner with the PGA TOUR's TPC Sawgrass to host an environmental outreach seminar for golf course managers and superintendents on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at the club.

The seminar is designed to assist golf courses in the region with environmental stewardship, using many of the environmental practices initiated at TPC Sawgrass as a model.

"We are delighted to work in collaboration with TPC Sawgrass to help educate those who can really make a difference in protecting Florida's natural resources," said DEP Northeast District Director Greg Strong. "By adopting and applying the best management practices recommended in the seminar, the golf industry can help protect natural wildlife habitats, enhance the environmental benefits of golf courses, minimize any adverse impacts, and continue Florida's commitment to sound environmental stewardship."

One of the tools that will be used during the seminar will be "Best Management Practices (BMP) for Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Courses," a free DEP publication covering all of the environmental aspects surrounding golf course design and operation, with environmental guidelines for conserving Florida's precious land and water resources. The publication was developed by the Florida DEP in collaboration with the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association, Florida's Water Management Districts, the University of Florida, the Audubon Society, and many other public and private sector partners.

Several specialists will be on hand to discuss a broad range of topics including how to comply with DEP's regulations regarding the proper management of solid and hazardous waste, wetland protection, stormwater protection, wastewater minimization, reclaimed water use, and proper management and use of storage tanks. Additionally, the seminar will highlight the variety of initiatives undertaken by TPC Sawgrass.

"Like the other clubs within the TPC Network, TPC Sawgrass prides itself on its environmental efforts," said TPC Sawgrass Golf Course Superintendent Tom Vlach, CGCS. "We appreciate the opportunity to work in concert with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to share best practices with other golf course professionals on ways to protect and enhance the environment. At the same time, we aim to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the community surrounding the golf course."

One of the first golf courses in Florida to be certified as an official Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary golf course by Audubon International and winner of the Sustainable Florida Best Practice Award in the non-profit category by the Governor of Florida, TPC Sawgrass recently underscored its environmental efforts by constructing a new environmentally friendly maintenance equipment wash facility. In building the facility, TPC Sawgrass collaborated with the DEP, Southwest Florida Water Management District, St. Johns Utility Department and engineers to make sure it complied with all wastewater disposal regulations. The new facility is equipped with a pressure soap system and an air compressor for blow-off to minimize water use, and prevents contaminated wastewater discharges to the stormwater pond system located on the golf course by directing any wastewater into the existing on-site sanitary sewer. Additionally, only eco-friendly, biodegradable detergents are used to clean both the maintenance equipment and golf carts at the club.

Other environmentally friendly agronomic practices undertaken by TPC Sawgrass include a system for micro feeding nutrients through the irrigation system; the refinement and recycling of 150 gallons of solvent and 400 gallons of oil annually; initiation of a water conservation program that resulted in an 87 percent reduction in ground water usage over the previous year; installation of bulk heads to protect against erosion; the use of double-walled, above-ground storage tanks to prevent ground contamination; and a club-wide "green" initiative that has led to significant reductions in water and energy usage throughout the club's two golf courses as well as its 77,000 square-foot clubhouse.

TPC Sawgrass is located at 110 TPC Boulevard in Ponte Vedra Beach. For more information, click here or call (904) 273-3235. For more information regarding the DEP's non-profit best management practices manuals and programs, including the environmental seminar at TPC Sawgrass on Feb. 24, click here or call (850) 245-2112.