David H. Robinson, CGCS, CGIA Senior Director, Golf Grounds, Global Golf Division, Marriott

Marriott Shadow Ridge

As a leader in the golf industry, Marriott’s Global Golf Division has enabled a number of its managed courses throughout the world to  join the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for Golf? What was the motivation behind this?  

We were looking for a formal program to allow our facilities to further enhance their environmental programs and Audubon was, and is in our opinion, the Gold Standard in golf environmental programs.

David H. Robinson, CGCS, CGIA Senior Director, Golf Grounds, Global Golf Division, Marriott International
David H. Robinson, CGCS, CGIA Senior Director, Golf Grounds, Global Golf Division, Marriott International

What did it take for the courses to achieve ACSP certification – how long was the process and what steps were involved?

The process varied greatly from property to property. Some completed within a few months while others took a year or longer. The steps vary as well but most begin with their environmental planning evaluation then choose a section or two at a time to work through. 

What did it cost the courses to earn certification all-in and what were the biggest expense items?

In many cases the cost was very minimal — only the time spent completing all the requirements. The biggest expense was in the areas where the chemical mix/load or equipment washdown areas needed upgrading. Those costs varied depending on need. The most expensive was a full ESD washdown station.

Related: Kevin Komer, CGCS Director Of Agronomy The Club at Spruce Peak The Mountain Course

What were / are the most challenging aspects of being certified and maintaining the standards required to achieve and retain that status?

The time involved in initial certification and re-certification.

What specific benefits are you reaping from being a Certified Member?

Regardless of how well a property is managed, going through the Audubon certification process makes the operation better. The process requires a Superintendent to evaluate all their practices and programs which in some cases results in a better way to manage.

Marriott Hawks Landing Hole 14
Marriott Hawks Landing Hole 14

What would you share with other superintendents and course managers who are considering joining the Audubon International program?

The process can seem daunting at first. Tackle certification by setting mini-goals that can be tracked. It doesn’t take a long as most think. 

What is the best guidance or tip(s) you have received pertaining to being a superintendent and overseeing the golf course agronomy/maintenance department? (And from whom?)

That is a very difficult question. There’s been so many individuals that I have learned from over the years. I would say the best thing I have learned was through observation of managing people by Ken Mangum, former Director of Golf Grounds at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Ken taught me by my sideline observation that you can develop a winning team by simply treating them with respect and ensuring they know how valued they are. To this day I have never met anyone that has a bad thing to say about Ken, and that says something. 


An environmentally focused non-profit organization, Audubon International offers members numerous certifications and conservation initiatives to protect the areas where we all live, work, and play. Its certifications are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both its members and their communities.

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