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11/4/2018 » 11/6/2018
2018 Annual Conference

2018 January/February Field Staff Report
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Field Staff Report 

by Dave Phipps

While making site visits around the Northwest this summer, I had the opportunity to see so many great things that superintendents are doing to enhance the environment. When it comes to enhancing pollinator habitat, I saw quite a few great examples of how to get it done. Today, I would like to share some of the ideas that I have found, I hope this blog will inspire others to do the same thing.

First, let me start by asking a simple question: Why should we spend time and energy enhancing pollinator habitat? Here are a few reasons that I have seen and I will try to address each in this blog.

I’m pretty sure that we all understand the implications of the first two bullets so I would like to focus on the latter three and provide some examples how others have exemplified them on their property.

• Increased pollinator habitat will help ensure both plant and bee species survival
• Our food supply is dependent on pollinators
• Pollinator habitat can beautify your property
• Creating habitat can create opportunities for community outreach and education
• Pollinator habitat can create opportunities for industry advocacy

Nothing can beat a big and blooming stand of wildflowers on a golf course. If your seed mix is properly sited for your climate, you can have blooms all summer. You can also plant just one variety such as out at Heron Lakes in Portland, Oregon. Jesse Goodling has planted a mono-stand of phacelia which is very popular with the black bumblebees.

In Jackson, Wyoming, Mike Kitchen, CGCS of Teton Pines Resort & Country Club, has taken the beautification factor to the extreme. While there are programs through Bayer and Syngenta that can assist a golf course in establishing pollinator gardens, Kitchen has done this all within his own budget. While on a site visit in August, Mike toured me around the course and the wildflower plots just kept coming. We were fortunate to stop and visit with a few golfers and they even commented to Mike how much they have enjoyed the gardens. 

As I mentioned earlier, Bayer and Syngenta both offer programs to help establish pollinator gardens on golf courses. Russell Vandehey, CGCS of The Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, Oregon worked with Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator in sourcing a wildflower mix that was suitable for his region. Russel engaged some of the youth at his course to help plant the seeds which provided him with the opportunity to explain the benefits to the kids and give them a part in providing habitat. It was an excellent outreach activity for his Audubon certification.

Michael Greene at Downriver Golf Course in Spokane, Washington, applied for the Bayer Feed-a-Bee grant and was awarded $2500 to use at his course to promote pollination. Mike put the dollars to good use in planting a large wildflower meadow as well as a pumpkin patch. The pumpkin patch is located in the middle of the course next to the turf nursery. Mike also worked with a local apiarist who brought out a few of his hives for the season so the bees could take advantage of all the new habitat. Mike’s goal is to utilize the pumpkin patch and the bee boxes to educate the local school kids on our food chain and the role bees play. He children will be able to come out to the course and pick out their own pumpkin to take home for Halloween.

While writing this blog post I spoke to Douglas McCullen from Bayer and he told me that Michael Greene was one of only a very few that had actually applied for the grant from the golf industry. I was totally surprised by that and had thought more would have taken advantage. For more information, please visit the Bayer website.

Not every bee project has to be full of blooming flowers. You can also provide nesting habitat. When I was at Stone Creek Golf Club I realized that I had an area that was full of ground bees so I had a sign made that highlighted the area. Today Mike Turley and Tyler Gabriel see that the signs is still maintained and helps protect the small area of bare dirt that the bees like to dwell. This is just one example of how signage can help people recognize that fact that golf courses provide habitat for all kinds of species.

Every one of these examples can and will create opportunities for our industry advocacy. While spending time at each of these facilities, more times than not, a member or a golfer would make a comment on the flowers and how much they appreciated them. As word travels by mouth, the golf course will soon develop a reputation as an environmental stand-out. Now if you ask me, that’s not a bad reputation to have.

Also, please visit Oregon State University’s PolliNation and listen to Andony Melathopoulos’s interview of me back in August on golf and pollinators.

Contact Gary Leeper at RMGCSA
Voice: 303-255-9611 Fax: 303-458-0002
12011 Tejon St., Ste. 700., Westminster, CO 80234 EMAIL: