GCSAA Recognizes Environmental Stewardship Leaders

Lifelong love of animals fuels Mark Condos to highest honor in Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards.
Additional recognition of environmental stewardship given to winners at the national and regional levels.

Mark Condos, 57, has always had a soft spot for animals. As a child in Deerfield Beach, Fla., he raised mice, hamsters, chickens, ducks, rabbits, parakeets and more.

“Mom would say to people ‘Come look at the zoo.’ It was a good life for me,” Condos says, “and I treated every creature that I had well.”

His care of creatures continues in his role as golf course superintendent at Las Positas Golf Course in Livermore, Calif., and for his efforts, Condos has been chosen as the Overall and National Public recipient of the 2015 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA), which are presented annually by GCSAA and Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta and Rain Bird’s Golf Division.

The awards recognize golf course superintendents and their courses for overall course management excellence and best management practices in the areas of water conservation, water quality management, energy conservation, pollution prevention, waste management, wildlife and habitat conservation, communication and outreach, and leadership.

Condos, a 22-year member of GCSAA, is joined by fellow GCSAA members Dave Davies and Jay Honeyball as national ELGA honorees. Davies, 60, is the certified golf course superintendent at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., and the National Private winner. Honeyball, 44, is the superintendent at OslerBrook Golf and Country Club in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, and winner of the International division. They will be recognized Tuesday, Feb. 9, during the Opening Session at the 2016 Golf Industry Show in San Diego. Winners will also be featured in upcoming issues of Golf Digest and GCSAA’s official monthly publication, Golf Course Management magazine.

Condos’ work at Las Positas GC has included a renovation that created an environmentally sensitive buffer for wildlife between the course and a nearby airport, and he has helped the course become an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. But his efforts expand beyond animal habitat. Water conservation, energy conservation and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are key initiatives in his operation. Ninety-four percent of total water consumption is recycled water, and Las Positas GC is enrolled in a Smart Meter Program, which helps saves energy during peak hours of the day.

“We try to take a minimalistic approach to all of it,” Condos says. “We don’t water (17 greens are mainly Poa annua, and in high desert climate at that) during the day at all except for spot watering. We have to maintain the greens.”

IPM and careful management of water are also key to Davies’ management approach at the nine-year-old TPC Stonebrae.

“My passion for many of our directives and really our entire environmental approach has been and will continue to be supported by many, many people,” says Davies, a 28-year association member. “Our ownership, our original consultants and, of course, our golf course architect David McLay Kidd, all played important roles in setting the tone for this project and our future direction. The entire Stonebrae team continues to work diligently toward the successes of their vision. I have been instrumental in setting the tone at times, but it is the daily work of our entire staff that makes it a success.”

Ways in which Davies and TPC Stonebrae are dedicated to the environment are numerous, whether it is the IPM plan or the potable water source that requires daily site monitoring. All maintained turf throughout the site is bordered by naturalized buffers; those buffers are vegetated with native grasses and have been built with the purpose of reducing velocity of surface runoff from maintained turf, while allowing any possible contaminants to be contained before they reach wetlands throughout the site.

The ELGA award is another feather in the cap for Honeyball and OslerBrook.

In 2009, Honeyball became the first international superintendent to be recognized as an ePar Environmental Management System professional. A year later, he received the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) Environmental Achievement Award. In 2013, Honeyball earned the prestigious Gordon Witteveen Award from the CGSA for his article focusing on sustainable design and management by way of a storm water management design incorporated into a closed-loop system.

A key to OslerBrook’s sustainability initiative is its 52 million-gallon water reservoir, which captures snow and rain. OslerBrook, situated on 232 acres with views of the Georgian Bay, includes 102 acres for golf. Two years after construction, OslerBrook became an Audubon Certified Sanctuary. In addition, the entire club has converted to LED lighting to conserve energy. As for pollution control, fertilizer is applied with a walking rotary spreader that prevents the product from being thrown into the pond. Native grasses also are an important element to OslerBrook.

“In our business, you’ve got to have a sense of humor, because with Mother Nature, it’s not all in your control,” Honeyball says. “There’s nothing you can do about that. So just work hard and do your best.”

An independent panel of judges representing national environmental groups, turfgrass experts, university researchers and valued members of the golf industry conducted the award selection.

“The ELGA winners are not only stewards for the environment, but excellent examples of the focus our industry keeps on sustainable efforts,” said Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. “They are on the frontline of how superintendents are making great playing conditions and environmental management practices work in tandem.”

In addition to the national winners, 14 chapter winners and one merit winner were chosen from GCSAA’s 98 affiliated chapters.

ELGA chapter winners for private facilities (facility, location, chapter)

  • Thomas Brodeur, TPC Boston, Norton, Mass., GCSA of New England
  • Timothy G. Connolly, TPC Jasna Polana, Princeton, N.J., GCSA of New Jersey
  • Thomas M. DeGrandi, TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Conn., Connecticut Association of GCS
  • Christian Drake, Highlands  (N.C.) Country Club, Carolinas GCSA
  • Jeff Reich, TPC Rivers Bend, Maineville, Ohio, Greater Cincinnati GCSA
  • Rick Slattery, Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, N.Y., Finger Lakes Association of GCS
  • Jim H. Thomas, CGCS, TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn., Tennessee GCSA

ELGA chapter winners for public facilities (facility, location, chapter)

  • Michael Bednar, Palouse Ridge Golf Club, Pullman, Wash., Inland Empire GCSA
  • Gary Ingram, CGCS, Metropolitan Golf Links, Oakland, Calif., California GCSA
  • Gary Heath, Glendoveer Golf Course, Portland, Ore., Oregon GCSA
  • Josh Heptig, Dairy Creek Golf Course, San Luis Obispo, Calif., GCSA of Central California
  • Bobby Jaeger, Lake Tahoe Golf Course, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Sierra Nevada GCSA
  • Darin Pakkala, Crystal Springs Golf Course, Burlingame, Calif., GCSA of Northern California
  • Alex Stuedemann, TPC Deere Run, East Moline, Ill., Northwestern Illinois GCSA

ELGA merit winner for public facility (facility, location, chapter)

  • Donald Paul, Los Lagos Golf Course, San Jose, Calif., CGSA of Northern California

About GCSAA and the EIFG
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at www.eifg.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

USGA and ASGCA Partner to Assist Courses


The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) have launched a collaborative program to help publicly accessible golf facilities improve the design and maintenance of their courses and deliver a better experience for their customers.

Combining the expertise of ASGCA member architects and USGA agronomists, scientists and researchers, the program will provide pro bono consulting services to facilities that need assistance to achieve their goal of making  their layouts more enjoyable and reducing their maintenance costs.

“Course design and maintenance form the foundation of a golf facility’s operations,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director. “With the knowledge that the ASGCA and USGA can offer, more publicly accessible facilities will be able to strengthen this base, while promoting resource efficiency, a better golf experience and a stronger connection to the local community.”

Starting today, facilities can submit an application for the service, which will include an on-site evaluation, professional analysis and a report outlining recommendations for improvement. Recommendations can cover course design, agronomy, environmental stewardship and golf course operations, with the goal of lowering costs while also improving the golfer experience.

“The ASGCA, along with the ASGCA Foundation led by John LaFoy, is pleased to partner with the USGA on this initiative,” said Steve Smyers, president of the ASGCA. “Golf facilities have long benefited from the efforts of ASGCA members and USGA agronomists. Collaboration between our experts will have a positive impact on the facilities we support. ASGCA members are excited and proud to bring their expertise to this program.”

Interested facilities must submit an application by one of three deadlines over the coming year: March 15, Aug. 15 or Dec. 15. The application can be found here.

Canal Shores Golf Course, a community-owned and operated facility in Evanston, Ill., is the first course to receive a pro bono evaluation through the program.

“This has been an incredible opportunity,” said Jason Way, of the Canal Shores planning committee. “We have some great ideas about how to improve the course, but the assistance from the USGA and the ASGCA allows us to get past the initial planning process, so we can move forward with our vision for making Canal Shores a multi-use community green space that the maximum number of people can enjoy.”

Selected facilities must express a willingness to carry out the recommendations from the USGA and ASGCA. Facilities will be expected to track and report the effectiveness of their improvements based on specific metrics.

A video that shares more detailed information on the program and Canal Shores can be found at usga.org via the following link:  http://www.usga.org/articles/2015/12/usga-and-asgca-partnering-to-improve-public-facilities.html

The partnership complements the USGA’s course consulting services, which deliver implementable solutions to support a healthier future for golf facilities. In October, the USGA also announced a five-year master research partnership with the University of Minnesota to study and develop solutions to golf’s present and future challenges, including environmental sustainability.

Questions about the program can be directed to Hunki Yun of the USGA (hyun@usga.org) or Aileen Smith of the ASGCA Foundation (aileen@asgca.org).

Triple Play Package a Home Run



Offer Valid Throughout 2016 

Book a “Triple Play Package” at Mission Inn Resort & Club by February 15 and receive a $50 resort credit per person valid on food, beverage, spa, and merchandise.  The offer is good throughout 2016, based on availability.

Located in the rolling hills of Central Florida’s citrus country, Mission Inn Resort is 35 minutes northwest of Orlando. The historic resort is home to two of Florida’s finest courses —the iconic El Campeón and Las Colinas.  Mission Inn’s “Triple Play Package” adds a third layout to the lineup with Bella Collina Golf Course, a Nick Faldo design nearby. 

The “Triple Play” experience, available year-round at Central Florida’s historic golf retreat, includes:

  • Choice of deluxe accommodations (three-night minimum stay is required)
  • Daily breakfast buffet in La Hacienda restaurant
  • 18 holes of golf at each course (one round per day)
  • Shared golf cart and full access to the golf facilities
  • Club cleaning, storage and bag tag
  • $50 Mission Inn Resort credit when Mission Inn Resort1booked by February 15 

The three courses present a wide variety of challenge and scenery. The must-play El Campeón (The Champion) is one of the oldest 18-hole courses in the South, having opened in 1917. An original member of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, El Campeón’s classic design accentuates elevation changes that are unique to the region.

Mission Inn Resort 2Las Colinas (The Hills), which opened in 1992, lives up to its name with wide fairways rolling over gentle rises. Its large, undulating greens are surrounded by tropical vegetation, and incorporate large water hazards on many holes.

Bella Collina, a short drive from Mission Inn Resort, features open fairways and sweeping dunes, overlooking the vineyards of Central Florida, as well as Mission Inn Resort 3Lake Apopka and Lake Siena.  From its longest tees, Nick Faldo’s luxury golf course design measures more than 7,500 yards. Using the Highlands rolling terrain as his inspiration, Faldo has created a traditional valley-style course unique to Central Florida, with open fairways and sweeping dunes. The design takes advantage of the long sweeps of the hillside and forest where parts of two holes are now located.  Guests must provide their own transportation for the 20-minute drive from Mission Inn.

Aside from golf, Mission Inn Resort offers numerous activities for guests including hiking and biking trails, eight tennis courts, fishing on nearby Lake Harris, and trap and skeet at the El Cazador Range. There’s also swimming, a fitness center, and the Spa Marbella.

Built in classic Spanish Colonial style, the resort’s main buildings feature 176 graciously appointed guestrooms, suites, and villas, as well as three restaurants and two lounges. Mission Inn is also a favorite destination for weddings, a home base for wine tours of local vineyards and wineries, and the home of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy.

The “Triple Play Package” rate is based on per person, double occupancy and a three night stay.  The resort credit cannot be applied to rooms or golf.  Pricing for the three night package starts at $498 for stays from January through April 2.

For additional information about Mission Inn Resort, or to book the “Triple Play Package,” call 800/874-9053 or 352/324-3101, or visit www.missioninnresort.com, and click on golf.

About Mission Inn Resort & Club:

Mission Inn is a four season resort located in the rolling hills of Central Florida’s Lake County in the town of Howey-in-the-Hills, 35 minutes northwest of Orlando, celebrating its 50th year of family ownership and management. The destination resort features classic Spanish Colonial architecture, 176 graciously appointed guestrooms, suites and villas, two championship golf courses, three restaurants, two lounges and poolside bar. Recreational amenities include eight tennis courts, trap and skeet shooting range, jogging and bicycling trails, volleyball courts, outdoor pool and hydro-spa, fitness center, nautical center with 52-slip marina, fishing, and powerboat and go eco-touring. The 6,200-square-foot Spa Marbella provides an extensive menu of treatments and services.  More than 30,000 square feet of well-appointed indoor and outdoor event space is available for meetings, banquets, holiday parties, weddings and special occasions. For more information, guests may call 800.874.9053 or visit the resort’s website at www.missioninnresort.com.