Silent Spring, a 1962 expose on the adverse effects of pesticide use on the environment, compelled our firm's partner, Michael J. Hurdzan, to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Vermont, a national leader in the environmental sciences. Hurdzan applied that education to design and maintain courses that use less fertilizer, pesticide and fossil fuels than their competitors. Three of the most notable examples of this career long effort are highlighted below.
America’s First Environmental Demonstration Project Golf Course
Widow’s Walk is far more than a course designed to test and compare environmental theories. It is a major collaborative effort of passionate environmentalists with vastly diverging views on how good golf was for Mother Nature. The collective goal was to determine if, by combining the knowledge of an interdisciplinary team of specialists, it was possible to convert an environmentally abused and biologically dead site (surrounding the well serving as the local town's only source of potable water no less) into a toxicologically benign, healthy golf course. Most contributors were vocalized their skepticism, but saw that if successful, the experiment would provide an ultimate proof in concept whose results could be applied to improve the environmental stewardship of all golf courses. The short and long-term results suggest an improved water quality, enhanced biodiversity and improved wetland health are all due to the installation of the golf course. The sod wall bunkers constructed with carpet scraps on site was pretty cool too.
America's First Environmental Outreach Education Center
FarmLinks, building upon our firm's experience at Widow's Walk, was designed to develop and test improved methods and machines that could further reduce the environmental impact of turfgrass maintenance. The lead company (and our client) was Pursell Technologies, innovators of time release fertilizers, who partnered with manufacturers of irrigation, turf care equipment, turfgrass and seed breeders, chemical and pest control companies, and even golf car manufacturers with an overarching goal to develop, test, refine and teach best management practices (BMPs) to visiting turf managers. The chosen site was Pursell Farms, which at 3,500 acres and substantial relief, allowed our firm to locate golf holes in distinct ecosystems ranging from wetlands and meadow to woods and mountain. This macro- and microclimatic variation further diversified the research possibilities depending upon the sensitivity of the parameters being tested to the biotic and abiotic factors. In 2003, the center opened to its inagural class of turf managers, and to attend this invitation only event is now considered an honor.
Featured on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine
Desert Willow Golf Resort
Palm Desert, California
Smithsonian Magazine has published over 500-issues in it's 50+ years of journalism, but has featured only one golf course on its cover. That course, Desert Willow Resort (Palm Desert, CA) was designed by our firm and appeared in the April 1997 issue. The story examined how our techniques in environmental design could employ a golf course as a vehicle to convert desert into a diverse bio-habitat. Our approach was rooted in biomimicry, specifically, combining the dynamics of the desert biome and isolated Native American oasis found along the nearby San Andres fault. Flat desert was shaped into rolling dunes, stabilized with native plants and plated with a thin layer of decomposed granite, all in an effort to conserve and protect from the drying desert winds the limited resource of effluent water that sustained life in an perpetually hostile environment.