Through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, our Conservation team has worked in close coordination with our golf course staff to maximize the wildlife habitat value of all our golf courses and to reduce the impact of golf course management practices on the environment.
The program is designed to help the JIA plan, organize, implement, and document a comprehensive environmental management program for our certified courses and promote recognition for these efforts. To reach certification, a course must demonstrate a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction & Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. Through these efforts, we have reduced chemical use on the golf course, increased safety and targeted application of what chemicals are required, and have reduced the amount of out-of-play areas that are intensively managed, allowing tall-grass meadows to colonize and flourish in these areas.
All four of the courses included in the Jekyll Island Golf Club are part of an exclusive group of only 25 courses in Georgia and 912 courses in the world to hold this honor. We are also one of three courses in the world to have 63 holes of golf certified and only three other have more certified. Golf courses from the United States, Africa, Australia, Central America, Europe, South America, and southeast Asia have also achieved certification in the program. The certification and three-year recertification process require a visit by a local golf community representative. Anthony Williams, Director of Grounds at Stone Mountain Golf Club by Marriott and member of the Audubon Steward Network, was given a tour of the course and sent his observations to Audubon International. “Jekyll Island’s Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary efforts have achieved a wonderful golf experience in harmony with an amazing green space. The staff have succeeded in being excellent stewards of the land and of the game of golf,” Williams reported.
Also as part of this program, we participate in an annual community-engagement event called BioBlitz. This is a species-counting competition coordinated by Audubon International, and designed to create awareness among golfers and the general public about the environmental value of the habitats supported by golf courses.
The Jekyll Island Golf Club was the only course/club to place in more than one category, placing in all three categories:
- 1st in the community engagement category with 161 participants
- 2nd in the photo contest
- 3rd in the biodiversity category with 430 different species counted
Within a week’s time, Jekyll Island placed
- 1st in the biodiversity category, counting 532 species and
- 2nd in the community engagement category, with 95 participants