Penticton golf course goes green

The Penticton Golf and Country Club is trying to make its greens a little greener and become more environmentally friendly.

South Okanagan Naturalsists’ Club vice-president Bob Handfield looks for signs of birds and other wildlife amongst the fairways and bunkers of the Penticton Golf and Country Club.

South Okanagan Naturalsists’ Club vice-president Bob Handfield looks for signs of birds and other wildlife amongst the fairways and bunkers of the Penticton Golf and Country Club.

The Penticton Golf and Country Club is trying to make its greens a little greener, making changes to become more environmentally friendly in order to receive recognition through an international conservation program.

On Aug. 2, the course unveiled a new sign detailing the 24 most common birds seen on the course; its latest effort in taking steps to receive certification from the Audubon International’s co-operative sanctuary program for golf courses. Audubon International is an non-profit environmental education organization based in the U.S. which helps businesses expand their green consciousness.

Larry Olson, the golf course’s superintendent, sees the obvious benefits to being certified and joining the ranks of some 2,200 other golf courses, from small nine hole affairs to larger, internationally lauded courses such as the Prairie Dunes Country Club.

“It’s showing our membership and the general public the benefits of a golf course; how much it does to enhance the environment and how much wildlife we have on it,” said Olson.

In order to become certified, courses need to meet standards in chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, water quality management, outreach and education, wildlife and habitat management and environmental planning.

The course has received the environmental planning certification, meaning Audubon has signed off on Olson’s plan to achieve certification in the other areas. However, for the next step, Olson needed a little help.

For the wildlife and habitat management certification, a wildlife inventory is required, meaning stock needs to be taken of all the wildlife that reside and have been seen on the grounds, from birds to butterflies. For this task, Olson enlisted the help of the South Okanagan Naturalist’s Club.

Once a week, members of the club walk the course, and take note of the different species they see using the course as a home as well as those just passing through. They also helped the golf course with the information and design of the recently unveiled sign. Vice-president of the naturalists’ club, Bob Handfield, said the group helping the golf course become greener just made sense.

“It’s a pretty big acreage right in the middle of the city. It’s a big acreage, and the more friendly you can make that for wildlife the better off everybody is,” he said, adding that by attracting birds to the course the number of insects drops and with that pesticide use.

Olson expects that it will be a number of years before the golf course will receive their certification. However, the time it takes will be worth it.

“We are a big chunk of green space in an urban area. So it’s nice to not just be a golf course but be more than that,” he said.