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David Warwick - Avondale Golf Club, NSW

2005 AGCSA Claude Crockford Award winner David WarwickIf there are two things that Avondale Golf Club superintendent David Warwick can’t impress enough when it comes to improving the environmental management of golf courses, it’s communication and persistence. Together, they have proved to be Warwick’s most important tools when it has come to instituting some pretty major changes in the environmental management of his Sydney course.

And the dividends are starting to come. Not only has the course achieved Audubon certification, one of only a handful in Australia to do so, it has now led to Warwick being bestowed the 2004 AGCSA Claude Crockford Environmental Award, one of the AGCSA’s most prestigious honours.

“I have a great passion for the environment,” says Warwick. “I’m not a tree hugging greenie. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in and something I’ve always done, even when I was at Arundel Hills. I certainly didn’t think it would lead to Audubon certification and to win the Claude Crockford award means a lot. It’s industry recognition for all your efforts and I’m tickled pink.”

Off all the changes instituted at Avondale since Warwick started there in 1996, the most important has been the elimination of high-maintenance, out-of-play areas which has freed up staff to concentrate on the preparation of playing surfaces.

These areas have been replaced with native grasses and plants, and over the past five to six years over 50,000 natives have been planted and up to four hectares of unnecessarily turfed areas regenerated into bush.

Since joining Avondale, Warwick has finished the conversion to Santa ana and is currently in the process of converting all greens to Penn G2 (nine have been completed).

With water conservation a huge issue, Avondale goes down the line of conserving every possible bit of water. A new irrigation system has been installed while Warwick has instituted a wetting agent injection program which he swears by.

A new washdown bay and chemical filling station have been constructed, while $1 million was spent on an environmentally friendly maintenance shed, the design of which took into consideration pollutants and energy saving measures.

One of Warwick’s great passions in achieving his environmental goals has been education and outreach.

“I think the communication of any environmental projects that golf course superintendents are going to implement is going to be easier to sell now than it was five years ago, simply because of all the legislation and environmental issues facing the industry,” says Warwick.

“Communication especially at club level is the most important. It’s a big change in the culture for a lot of the clubs particularly if you want to plant native grasses and make major environmental changes.”

To keep members up to speed with the course’s environmental management strategy, Warwick gives regular talks to members and conducts course and maintenance facility tours.

Outside of the club, Warwick teaches environmental issues at his son’s local school and has conducted guest lectures at local TAFEs. He has also been invited to other courses to show how things are done at Avondale.

“It’s not just about preaching the Audubon way,” Warwick says. “I have a wider view that I am trying as much as possible to educate various people and government agencies that golf courses are actually beneficial to the environment because there are plenty of people out there that think otherwise.

Click here to read an update on the environmental management efforts at Avondale Golf Club that featured in Volume 10.3 of Australian Turfgrass Management Journal (May-June 2008),