Deploying an almost all-electric fleet of turf maintenance equipment isn't the only reason that the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay has become one of golf's true environmental shining stars.
But Tuesday, on Earth Day 2014, those mowers and utility vehicles and the success story about their introduction into the day-to-day maintenance activities at Harrison Bay were the featured attractions at an event that drew officials from the state of Tennessee, golf industry leaders and the local media to the course located just outside of Chattanooga, Tenn.
Well, that and a certain family of bald eagles that has attracted international accliam.
The impact of that all-electric fleet — the course still utilizes things such as gasoline powered backpack blowers, for example, but those are the exception and not the rule — has been notable, even to someone like superintendent Paul Carter, CGCS, who is accustom to the positive benefits of introducing sustainability into his golf course mainteannce efforts. In the year since going electric, a move that included the introduction of seven Eclipse 322 greens mowers from Jacobsen, a co-sponsor of yesterday's Earth Day event, Harrison Bay has saved over 9,000 gallons of diesel fuel and has posted over 175 days of emission-free operation, which has eliminated over 180,000 pounds of point-source CO2 emissions.
"It's been tremendous," Carter says. "The golfers love it because it's quieter. We don't disturb the wildlife in the morning. The only downside is I can't hear where the mowers are. I used to be able to stand on No. 5 green and tell if we were on schedule or a little behind by just listening. Now, I actually have to go find them."
But you don't bring home the kind of environmental hardware that Carter has during his career — including the overall award in this year's Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards from GCSAA and Golf Digest — by putting all your eggs in one basket. That's why sustainability has made its way into almost every aspect of the operations at Harrison Bay. The course is an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and a Groundwater Green Site. There are 45 nesting houses on the property for a variety of birds. The chemical storage facility has recently been renovated. Fifty acres of the course were naturalized.
And then there are the bald eagles. Thanks in large part to the web cam that shows their exploits to a waiting world, the eagles that have taken up residence at Harrison Bay have become almost as big a star as the course itself. During our visit to Harrison Bay, which included a walking tour of the course and a stop by the next for a little bird watching, the two eaglettes rarely poked their heads out of the next. But mom and dad weren't far away, as this very poor iPhone photo shows (give me a break ... it was raining and I was holding an umbrella when I snapped this).
For more information on the bald eagles, check out this story from CNN that went live on Earth Day.