Awards honor golf course superintendents for their commitment to environmental stewardship

LAWRENCE, Kansas (Jan. 11, 2021) – Four golf course superintendents have been named winners of the 2020 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA), which are presented annually by GCSAA and Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta. Seven runners-up also received recognition for their environmental efforts.

The awards have recognized superintendents and golf courses around the world for their commitment to environmental stewardship since 1993, but in 2018 the ELGAs were updated to recognize more superintendents in more focused areas of environmental sustainability. 

Instead of offering national awards based on facility type, the newer version of the ELGAs is based on the environmental best management practices and honor specific areas of focus.

  • The Communications and Outreach Award recognizes effective communication of conservation strategies with facility employees and others, as well as share their efforts with golfers and other members of the community.
  • The Healthy Land Stewardship Award recognizes effective strategies for efficient use of pesticides and nutrients, as well as pollution prevention.
  • The Innovative Conservation Award recognizes unique and innovative strategies for conservation.
  • The Natural Resource Conservation Award recognizes effective strategies for water conservation, energy conservation, and sound wildlife management.

“Environmental stewardship is a focus of the golf course management industry,” said GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans. “These winners are tremendous examples of leadership in creating quality playing conditions, while committing to environmental management practices. Congratulations to all of the recipients for their efforts to keep golf sustainable.”

Communications and Outreach Award

Anthony L. Williams, CGCS
Director of Golf Operations
TPC Four Seasons Dallas
Irving, Texas

Anthony L. Williams is a 24-year GCSAA member who has spent the last four years as director of golf operations at TPC Four Seasons Dallas. The golf operation is built on an “environomic” model with the mission to consistently combine environomics, horticulture, hospitality and teamwork.

Internal communication includes environmental displays in the clubhouse and conference room, regular conference calls and weekly email updates. Externally, the course hosts an annual Earth Day activity for members, hotel guests and the community; conducts an average of eight environmental tours for special events and conventions; provides formal and informal education for the local homeowners associations; and has an outdoor classroom/nature trail. Williams, who also claimed ELGA awards in 2005, 06 and 17, has been involved in a number of articles and videos discussing environmentalism. He was also the winner of GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2010.

First runner-up in the Communications and Outreach category is Matt Gourlay, CGCS, MG, director of golf course management, Colbert Hills Golf Course, Manhattan, Kan. Second runner-up is Chris Robson, superintendent, Glendoveer Golf and Tennis, Portland, Ore. 

Healthy Land Stewardship 
Carl David Thompson, CGCS
Superintendent
Columbia Point Golf Course
Richland, Wash.

After earning second runner-up in this category last year, Carl David Thompson, CGCS, earned the Healthy Land Stewardship title this year. The 28-year GCSAA member was the recipient of the Natural Resource Conservation Award in 2018.

Thompson has spent the last 15 years at Columbia Point and has established at least 15 buffer zones around lakes to prevent water pollution. He has instructed staff members to scout for disease, weed and insect activity, and they have established acceptable pest thresholds before applying plant protectants.

First runner-up in the Healthy Land Stewardship is Wayne Mills, superintendent, La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara, Calif. Second runner-up is Justin Brimley, superintendent, Crystal Springs Golf Course, Burlingame, Calif.

Innovative Conservation 
Gary Ingram, CGCS
Director of Agronomy
Metropolitan Golf Links
Oakland, Calif.

Gary Ingram, CGCS, has been named an ELGA recipient for the fourth time in seven years and last year was also the winner of the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship. The 40-year GCSAA member has been a long-time national leader of environmental excellence.

Among the efforts to conserve water, Ingram has reduced more than 22 acres of previously irrigated turf, stopped watering driving range landing areas, except for small green targets, and added native areas. These implementations have reduced expenses including labor, gasoline, inputs and water usage. Instead of spending a lot of time on unused areas of the driving range, his staff is able to focus on necessary care on the golf course.

First runner-up in the Innovative Conservation category is Brandon Reese, director, golf course operations, TPC Louisiana, New Orleans, La.

Natural Resource Conservation
Shannon Easter
Golf Course Maintenance Director
Broken Sound Club
Boca Raton, Fla.

Broken Sound, a PGA Tour Champions event host for 13 straight years, operates toward making as little impact on the environment as possible. The facility has become 97-percent waste free, while adding thousands of plantings to enhance wildlife habitat, improve water conservation, water quality and energy efficiency.

Shannon Easter, a 23-year GCSAA member, has been the maintenance director at Broken Sound for six years and has been a part of a number of environmental awards earned by the club during that time. He also claimed ELGA awards in 2016 and 2018. His operation has made great strides in pollution prevention and reduction of energy usage; saving water with low volume and low pressure sprinkler heads; protecting water sources and wildlife from chemical runoff with vegetation, carbon buffers and no fertilizer zones; and taking steps to increase the number of wildlife while providing a diverse habitat on the property.

First runner-up in the Natural Resource Conservation is Jay Neunsinger, superintendent, Boundary Oak Golf Course, Walnut Creek, Calif. Second runner-up is David Dore-Smith, director of golf course and grounds maintenance, Copperleaf Golf Club, Estero, Fla.

The winners will be recognized during the annual Golf Industry Show, which will be held virtually Feb. 2-4, 2021.

A list of previous ELGA Award winners is available at https://www.gcsaa.org/about-gcsaa/awards/environmental-leaders-in-golf-awards

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