The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay has won numerous awards for environmental stewardship during the tenure of greens superintendent Paul Carter. The latest might be the most prestigious yet.
Golf Digest has chosen the Bear Trace as its 2013 Green Star Award winner. The magazine instituted the Green Star honor in 2009 to “recognize golf facilities that demonstrate the best in sustainable, efficient and innovative environmental practices that every golf facility could emulate.”
At first the award was given only to American resort courses. In 2013, the field was expanded to public and daily fee courses, which allowed the Bear Trace to be considered. Next year, U.S. private courses will also be considered.
“Considering the source that it came from, considering the other courses that have won it in the past, considering it was open to every public course … for them to select us, it’s a great honor,” Carter said. “Honestly, I was overwhelmed when I found out.”
“We’re just blown away by it,” said Bear Trace head professional Robin Boyer. “Words can’t even express it. We’re very humbled.”
The eagle cam high atop a pine tree behind the 10th green may have become a symbol for the Bear Trace’s environmental pace setting, but it wasn’t the only reason Golf Digest singled out the course.
“What caught our eye is the versatility of this state-park golf course,” said an article in the November issue. “… Besides being a broadcast studio and a playground for any golfer willing to pay its reaonsable green fee … it’s a classroom, a laboratory, a forest preserve, a nature walk, a role model and a soap box.”
Several environmentally friendly decisions either made by Carter or facilitated by him were cited by Golf Digest:
• A switch 10 years ago to Bermuda greens, which has greatly reduced the amount of fungicides Carter’s crew has to use and saves the course more than $30,000 a year.
• Carter’s decision to allow unmaintained native grasses to proliferate on 50 acres, saving 7.4 million gallons of irrigation water, 400 gallons of fuel and nearly 300 man hours annually.
• Bear Trace’s recent conversion to all-electric greens mowers, utility tractors and other equipment. Carter estimates that in 2013 the course will save 12,000 gallons of gas, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and reduce operational costs by $30,000.
During Carter’s tenure, the Bear Trace has been recognized twice as a Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award winner for its continued progress. The course was also recognized with the Environmental Leaders in Golf Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America for four consecutive years (2009-2012), and Carter won the prestigious national TurfNet Superintendent of the Year award in 2011, the only time this honor was bestowed in the state of Tennessee.
“We’re very proud of Paul,” Boyer said. “All the accolades the golf course is receiving are to his credit. He’s really putting us out there and getting exposure for us.”
Golf Digest called Bear Trace a “gorgeous, well-maintained daily-fee showcase.”
And Carter isn’t finished. He’s hoping to equip the maintenance building and cart barn with solar panels, and this winter his crew will re-do the irrigation system around the greens in an effort to save water and more efficiently direct the water that is utilized.
“That’ll save us millions of gallons of water a year,” Carter said. “And to be able to recharge our [electric] equipment and not have to take anything off the grid would be ideal.”
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.