Educating Others, One Junior Environmentalist At A Time

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
March 20, 2013

Students learned how wood piles improve the environment by providing cover to small animals.

This spring continues to bring unseasonably cool weather and it has caused some unsightly conditions on several golf courses. Cool weather causes slow turf growth and delayed recovery from stress. It is also bringing record rounds on most courses, causing increased soil compaction on greens and turf wear from golfer traffic. Golf course superintendents are counting down the days until they can begin their summertime cultivations, particularly core aeration, because the turf simply needs to be worked. Until that time, solid pencil-tine “venting” is an excellent practice for relieving soil compaction and improving turf rooting. 

I was able to take a break from my normal TAS visits and speaking engagements this past week to visit with Mr. Tim Hiers from the Old Collier Golf Club. Nearly all of the golf course superintendents that I visit are excellent environmental stewards, as they work outdoors and have an appreciation for the ecosystem that they impact. However, Mr. Hiers takes his passion to the next level, as he seeks to educate others on the benefits that golf courses provide. Not only does he speak internationally to various universities, governmental agencies and allied associations, he also takes time to host tours on his golf course and explain strategies for improving wildlife habitat. 

On this particular morning, a group of fifth graders from an adjacent middle school and I were treated to a two-hour wildlife tour with Mr. Hiers. We visited several gopher tortoise dens and learned the importance of keystone species and the role they play in the environment. We also learned about other important ecosystems like ponds, and steps we can take to improve water quality and habitats for fish and wading birds. The basic requirements for wildlife of food, water, space and cover were discussed and why it was important to create wood piles in out of play areas instead of simply disposing of the wood. We also learned how a milk jug with beer and bananas breaks the life cycle of a turf pest, to reduce chemical use. Students were later quizzed on the information they learned and awarded with candy (which they had to eat after school). They were also encouraged to express their experience through artwork later at school and the winners would receive gift certificates at several local stores. 

Well-managed golf courses provide a significant benefit to wildlife and the surrounding environment. Tours like these are an excellent way to educate others about the role golf courses play in more than just the game of golf. In fact, the only mention of golf during the tour was when Mr. Hiers asked us to hold our comments and questions as we passed by a group of golfers. 

Source:  Todd Lowe, or 941.828.2625

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image