Who can participate in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses?
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses is for existing golf courses that are interested in strengthening their environmental program on the golf course. Golf courses that are being planned or are under development are ineligible to join the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses and are referred to the Signature Program. Golf courses that are or will be under renovation will find better value with the Classic Program.
How do I get started?
The first step is to register the property in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. The newly registered property will be sent a New Member Packet containing:
- A Guide to Environmental Stewardship on the Golf Course, 2nd edition
- Certification Handbook
- Registration Art Print
- Regional Ecological Community and Native Plant Information
The most important thing to remember about the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses is that it is first and foremost an education program. You will be provided with educational materials and have access to Audubon International staff to help you prioritize, organize, and maximize your environmental efforts.
What are the certification standards for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses?
The Certification Handbook guides members through conducting a site assessment, developing an environmental plan, and documenting that the plan has been put into place. The six environmental categories are:
- Environmental Planning
- Wildlife and Habitat Management
- Water Conservation
- Chemical Use Reduction and Safety
- Water Quality Management
- Outreach and Education
What kind of documentation do we need for the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses?
The Certification Handbook has been carefully designed to provide a planning and education tool for the member that also provides Audubon International with the information needed to evaluate the golf course environmental program as well as provide recommendations for further improvement. Audubon International is a firm believer that you manage what you measure, so there are a number of backup requirements for the program. They include:
- Labeled Map of the Golf Course
- Integrated Pest Management Records
- Water Quality Test Results
- Wildlife Inventory
- Samples of Educational Materials
If required information is missing or management practices are not in place, Audubon International places a “pending” status on the certification request. This enables the member to provide the needed documentation or further develop its management strategies.
How long does certification take?
Most organizations achieve certification within one to three years, depending on how quickly they plan, organize, implement, and document their environmental practices. The process is not one to three years’ worth of work, but planning and documentation are often incorporated into the maintenance schedule over time. The fastest a golf course has been designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from the time that the course was registered in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses was six months.
How does Audubon International verify that the member is meeting certification standards?
Members provide Audubon International with completed Certification Request Forms from the Certification Handbook as well as supplemental backup documentation. During the time that the member works through the six certification categories, a relationship is developed between the member and Audubon International staff.
Program members also must create a Resource Advisory Group including staff, golfers, and local experts, such as university and extension personnel, watershed and environmental organization representatives, and government representatives. When questions arise, Audubon International has reached out to Resource Advisory Group members for further clarification.
The final step for certification is a site visit by an Audubon International staff member to document that certification standards have been met. The certification visit is an opportunity for program members to share what they have accomplished with Audubon International. A final determination regarding certification is made by Audubon International staff once the Certification Visit is complete.
Recertification is required every three years to ensure that members continue to uphold certification standards. The first recertification requires a third-party site visit to confirm that the more visual aspects of the program are in place. Members that do not submit the appropriate documentation or are no longer meeting program requirements are decertified.