Mastering the Green: An Exclusive Conversation with David Swift, GCSAA Class A Superintendent at Minnehana Country Club

David Swift, GCSAA Class A Superintendent at Minnehaha Country Club
David Swift, GCSAA Class A Superintendent at Minnehaha Country Club

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

I believe that our golf pro was passionate about getting the club in the Audubon Sanctuary Program back in the early 1990s. We have a beautiful landscape of turf, trees, water and wildlife on 140 acres right in the middle of a city of 200,000 people. Coincidentally, within a year of certification, the city of Sioux Falls wanted to put a road through the golf course and relocate the course elsewhere in the city. That chatter ended quickly as the club was recently certified as an Audubon Sanctuary Golf Course.

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

I believe the initial process took a few years to get going. The Site Assessment and Environmental Plan was approved in July of 1997, Chemical Use and Reduction was completed in May of 1998, The Wildlife Habitat and Management Plan and the Water Quality Management were completed in March of 1999 and the Outreach and Education was completed in April of 1999. We were Certified in April of 1999.

Minnehaha Country Club hosted the PGA Tour Champions Sanford Invitational in 2021
Minnehaha Country Club hosted the PGA Tour Champions Sanford Invitational in 2021

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

Time. I think any expenses were related to the time involved, but I was not part of the process until 2009.

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

Making sure that the goals were written, discussed, and executed. Like anything in life, we seem to get out of it what we put into it.

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

The membership has trust in our operation. They know that we have the integrity to make sure that we are great stewards of this property.

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

We value the relationships that we build with our members and guests. As the relationships get stronger, we develop trust. Recognizing that we are a Certified member of the Audubon Sanctuary for Golf, the membership has a deeper level of trust in our operation and stand behind us when opportunities arise to improve our environment.

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?)

Keep it simple stupid – Dr. George Hamilton Jr.

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