Ken Nice, Senior Director of Agronomy, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

Ken Nice, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Director of Agronomy, on The Preserve par-3 course The 11th hole at Pacific Dunes

A native of Corvallis, Oregon, Ken Nice earned a BS in turf management from Oregon State in 1996, came on board at Bandon Dunes in 1999 as an assistant superintendent and was superintendent of three of its courses from 2000 until 2008, when assumed his current position as Senior Director of Agronomy. Five of the six courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort have achieved their designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary through Audubon International. Its newest course, Sheep Ranch, is also on track to achieve certification. The agronomy department has installed an estimated 65 bird boxes throughout the resort and cataloged over 120 confirmed bird species sightings.

What motivated your club to join the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for Golf?

Being environmentally conscious and responsible is extremely important to our team on property and to our founder Mike Keiser. We’d heard amazing feedback about ACSP and knew we wanted to work toward becoming a member.

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

It really boils down to time and effort. We looked into the steps that needed to be taken to achieve certification, looked at what we were already doing and learned ways to enhance our efforts to apply for certification.

Related: Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses: More Relevant than Ever

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

Not sure on an actual cost and much of what we were already practicing was able to be applied. The biggest expense was probably allocating staff time and resources toward achieving areas of the certification that we hadn’t yet been focusing on.

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

It’s been a part of our DNA so I wouldn’t frame it as a challenging aspect. Staying focused and present and always looking to improve can be applied to maintaining the standards, whether that be in life in general or the ACSP certification.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Hole 3
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Hole 3

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

The certification in our minds brings more awareness around the topic of being environmental stewards and how golf courses can actually work in harmony with the natural environment.

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

It’s a great program and we’ve loved working with ACSP. They have a love and appreciation for nature, something that we feel golf agronomy teams also resonate with.

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?)

I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from legendary basketball coach John Wooden. One of my favorite quotes of his is “don’t mistake activity for achievement.”

Related: Great Golf Course Trades Winter Golf Escape


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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