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Ben Marshall (Club Pelican) and Scott McKay (North Lakes)

Ben Marshall (left) and Scott McKay (right)It was an all Queensland affair in the 2005 AGCSA Claude Crockford Environmental Award with Ben Marshall (Club Pelican) and Scott McKay (North Lakes Golf Club) sharing the prestigious honour.  Fellow Queensland superintendent Pat Pauli (Horton Park Golf Club, Maroochydore) was also named as a finalist for the award, which proved particularly sweet for Mckay on account of having been a beaten finalist for the same award in 2004.

Rewarding excellence in golf course environmental stewardship, the AGCSA Claude Crockford Environmental Award, sponsored by Bayer Environmental Science, recognises golf course superintendents for their commitment to sustainable land management, long-term environmental planning, community involvement and overall environmental stewardship of the golf course.

Both courses which Marshall and Mckay oversee are located within or near sensitive environmental areas and ecosystems, and through careful and precise environmental management techniques both have ensured their course’s long-term sustainability by working in harmony with the surrounding environment.

Ben Marshall - Club Pelican
Club Pelican is based in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast and is home to the Australian Seniors PGA Championship and ALPG Players Championships. In his time there, Marshall has developed an operational management plan that is the foundation of sound environmental management of the golf course. Within that plan objectives have been set for the ongoing maintenance of the golf course, addressing key issues such as water quality management, habitat management and pest control using integrated pest management techniques.

As a result, Club Pelican is currently undergoing certification for the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary. As part of that, Marshall is undertaking a case study looking at achieving reduced chemical and fertiliser applications on the course through better soil husbandry.

Club Pelican is known to be home to 146 bird species, more than 30 species of butterflies, 33 reptiles, eight amphibians, 17 mammals and over 140 plant species throughout the four flora habitats.

Club Pelican has designated areas around the course as no mow/no spray buffer zones. These areas are instrumental and form wildlife corridors throughout the course linking Bells Creek to the northern end of the golf course site. The heathland is a popular nesting area for many birds.

Water quality management is critical to Club Pelican’s ongoing environmental stewardship, particularly considering its geographic position on Bells Creek, a feeder to the Pumicestone Passage and ultimately Moreton Bay Marine Park.

No potable water is used on the golf course, other than for human consumption. All irrigation water is taken from an extensive man made wetland covering 31 hectares. This water is harvested from golf course run off and from the surrounding suburb.

Club Pelican has been designed with critical environmental concerns in mind. The golf course has created extensive wetlands, which are critical to the golf course on many levels; they supply the irrigation needs to the golf course, they are home to many permanent wading and migratory birds, and they support a healthy diversity and number of native fish. It is therefore critical that the wetlands be maintained to a healthy level and

Club Pelican undertakes a water monitoring program, the objective of which is to demonstrate that the physical and chemical character of the course’s waterways are within targets defined by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC 2000).

Temperature, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, nutrients and metal salts are measured monthly at eight sites, with analysis conducted and reported by an independent accredited laboratory.

Club Pelican has ceased the use of any organophosphates and as part of the Audubon certification process Marshall is undertaking a case study to reduce chemical application to the course through good soil science husbandry.

“This can be achieved by a combination of our cultural practices and applying beneficial bacteria to the golf course” said Marshall. “As the golf course is built predominately in sandy soils with low CEC we are effectively trying to maintain the golf course hydroponically. We need to build populations of beneficial bacteria and fungi so we can build a natural growing media. Limiting chemical application to the golf course will help conserve and increase the biomass in the soil.”

Scott McKay – North Lakes Golf Club
As superintendent of North Lakes Golf Club on the border of northern Brisbane the Sunshine Coast, Scott McKay has had to deal with a number of sensitive environmental issues while maintaining the Graham Marsh designed 18-holes.

The course, is the major catchment for the North Lakes Development, is bounded by the sensitive Salt Water Creek, contains a healthy population of koalas and is home to the very rare and very small Wallum Froglet.

Through the efforts of McKay, his staff and The Golf Course Company, North Lakes is ISO 140001 certified while McKay has also implemented a number of programs to further improve the course’s status as an environmental leader.

One of the major programs McKay has started is to reduce wetland nutrient levels as water moves through the course’s waterways. In doing so McKay is helping to reduce the risk of residual nutrients building up in wetland areas from fertiliser application, reducing the risks of leaks in irrigation system leading to nitrification of waterways, and reducing the risk of nutrient build up from adjoining farming properties and construction activities.

McKay is also aiming to reduce the amount of chemical fungicides applied to the course, and is proactive in the area of raising the environmental awareness of the surrounding community and how the course plays an important role in the local environment.

“Responsible environmental management must be sustainable,” says McKay. “I would like my son’s children to be able to enjoy the benefits of our environmental stewardship and to do this we must set the example for future generations of turf managers now