What motivated your club to join the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for Golf?
We have sought to become a certified Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf for some time. Still, like many courses, we had to consider how to fit the requirements into our already active schedule. The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation has been extremely proactive in implementing many of the environmentally friendly initiatives of the ACSP since the course was built. Our participation in the program fit within our values of being a good environmental citizen.
What did it take to achieve ACSP certification – how long was the process and what steps were involved?
It was beneficial for us to begin the certification process during the winter wet months when there was more time for Yocha Dehe Golf Club to dedicate to the mission of environmental sustainability. We contacted the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s Environmental Department, developers of our Environmental Impact Report. Before developing our golf course, the report was paramount in proof of concept for state and federal agencies. We were able to provide the ACSP with valuable information in the study of wildlife, native plants, and aquatic plant programs developed for the course. At the time of our certification, the course was two years old and took a few months of follow-up for our 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?
It is difficult to provide comprehensive costs as the Yocha Dehe Golf Club was constructed with environmental sustainability in mind.
What were/are the most challenging aspects of being certified and maintaining the standards required to achieve and retain that status?
It is challenging to maintain the grounds of an award-winning golf course; however, the accolades speak for themselves. We are proud to have been named as the No. 34 ranking in Golfweek’s Top 200 Resort Courses in the U.S., an annual order based on ten criteria against other regional courses. It’s worth noting that YDGC is the only Northern California golf course on this prestigious list. This is the first time YDGC has been in the top 50, and our rankings have consistently improved since the course opened. NBC GolfPass also recently named YDGC as Golfers’ Choice Top 50 U.S. Golf Courses. Our dedication to the environment and elevated guest experience have proven successful. We are extremely proud of our team and unwavering support of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and Cache Creek Casino Resort, and we are certain that our stewardship commitment, as well as our Audubon International ACSP for Golf certification, has strengthened that support and recognition.
What specific benefits are you reaping from being a Certified Member?
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation takes great pride in being environmentally conscious. We are responsible stewards of our land and resources, which, in turn, creates a memorable golf experience for our guests.
Related: Ken Nice, Senior Director of Agronomy, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
What would you share with other superintendents and course managers who are considering joining the Audubon International ACSP program?
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation recycles 80,000,000 gallons of water annually for use within Cache Creek Casino Resort for toilets and golf course irrigation. Now, that’s making an impact! We are cognizant that the overuse of fertilizers and other chemicals may be a detriment to the environment, so we continue to be responsible stewards of our land and resources. We sincerely hope that others follow our example.
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?)
For us, the best “guidance” is to keep moving forward in our sustainability efforts. We continuously strive to stay up to date on state and federal regulations. Our partnership with Troon Corporate Agronomists provides us with the resources necessary to maintain our status with the ACSP. We all work together. Cooperation is always key.
ABOUT AUDUBON INTERNATIONAL
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.