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.