Located in the heart of the Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Clear Lake Golf Course boasts beautiful grounds and stunning views, sitting on the east end of Clear Lake and surrounded by boreal forest of the national park. But this impressive 6, 309 yards golf course offers golfers more than rolling landscape, excellent greens and breathtaking views. It is one of the most environmentally sustainable golf courses in Canada.
Setting up shop in a national park comes with a lot of perks - picturesque views, frequent wildlife sightings and clean, crisp, pristine air. But it also requires Clear Lake Golf Course to operate in an environmentally responsible manner to minimize the impact of its operations on the lake and the surrounding forest, which is what Superintendent Greg Holden and his team have been successfully doing for the past 25 years.
Running a Sustainable Golf Course
Expectations for golf course superintendents are high. Greens and fairways are expected to be pristine and experimentation is often avoided, because anything less than perfect often results in a superintendent losing their position. Traditional golf course superintendents expect immediate results, something they have grown accustomed to using chemical and synthetic products. But with two creeks running through the golf course, Clear Lake Golf Course has chosen to reduce its use of chemicals as much as possible, using products that are the least toxic to reduce its impact on the surrounding ecosystems.
“I’m not much of a golfer, and thought at the time that this would be an opportunity to elevate my skills,” explained Greg when he recounted how he started his career as Clear Lake Golf Course superintendent. In 1993, the Clear Lake Golf Foundation was awarded the bid to manage Clear Lake Golf Course with the long term goal of being as organic as possible, using methods that fit in and work with nature’s biology. “The strong commitment to using a sustainable management was the challenge, not elevating my golf game,” Greg recounted when explaining his vision of running the golf course as sustainably as possible. Developing a sustainable soil-turf management program has meant a lot of experimentation with different products over the years, some worked, but many did not.
Developing a Sustainable Soil Turf Management Program
Finding the Right Organic Fertilizer
Over the past 25 years Greg has gone through dozens of suppliers and different organic fertilizers. It wasn’t until he came across EnviroPerfect Solutions booth at a tradeshow in 2015 and met owners and operators, Tim and Susan Penstone, that Greg finally found the right organic granular product for Clear Lake Golf Course.
“I’ve tried many things over the years and EnviroPerfect’s organic granular fertilizer is the best that we have ever found. It is the nicest granular product we have come across in 25 years - not kidding”.
Greg was looking for a custom blend of organic granular fertilizer, one without phosphorus, which has been linked to blue-green algae. EnviroPerfect was able to provide a custom 9-0-3 organic granular fertilizer product, helping Greg deliver a beautiful golf course while protecting the surrounding watershed.
“EnviroPerfect’s organic granular fertilizer slow release provides beautiful, natural dark green colour, without a flush of growth. The odor is much better too. My stinky reputation is getting better with EnviroPerfect’s products - we will be moving into using more EnviroPerfect product on fairways and greens next season”.
More Than a Salesperson
Greg’s journey to develop a sustainable soil turf management program for Clear Lake Golf Course over the past 25 years meant that he has dealt with many different suppliers and spoken with many companies about both organic programs and products. When asked what makes EnviroPerfect Solutions stand out, aside from the excellent product and service, he pointed to the knowledge behind the company.
“You don’t see many organic management booths at conferences. You definitely have to seek them out. It was Tim and Susan’s knowledge about the biology behind their products and programs that made them stand out. They were - and still are- willing to share their knowledge and information. It’s a sharing thing in this community. They share information. Tim and Susan have great knowledge and are willing to share and listen to what I have to say as well. Now after using EnviroPerfect’s products and seeing how great they are I want to use a larger quantity next year. I am so happy with the whole thing”.
Continuing the Environmentally Sustainable Journey
Greg’s environmentally sustainable soil turf program with Clear Lake Golf Course came to the end of it’s 25-year contract last year - but don’t worry, the golf course has received a 10-year extension. That means at least 10 more years of growing the sustainable soil turf program, with Greg’s assistant for the past 11 years, Craig Atkinson, taking over superintendent duties as Greg retires. But Greg will still be working to support the program’s continued growth and evolution. EnviroPerfect Solutions is proud to be a part of Greg’s program, providing custom organic products to help him meet his goals and sharing our soil health knowledge to help him succeed, because Greg and Clear Lake Golf Course are showing the world that it is possible for golf courses to have beautiful grounds while taking care of the environment and the golfers who enjoy the tranquility of playing 18-holes.
Greg Holden has been named CGSA/Bayer Superintendent of the Year, congratulations Greg!