Justin Timberlake Greens the Golf Course
- Monday, 22 June 2009
Sunshine, wind and a golf course full of twists and turns. It may seem like you're one with nature when you step up to the tee, but golf courses often take a toll on the environment.
Though golf properties have the potential to preserve nature, irrigation uses precious water resources, and the application of pesticides and fertilizers can contaminate ground and surface water, pose health hazards to humans, and harm or kill wildlife and beneficial plants and insects.
So when musician Justin Timberlake purchased the golf course where he hit his first golf ball, he wondered if it was possible to go green.
"In the process of ... starting from scratch, I was able to pose a question: 'Is it possible for a golf course to actually be green?' And as it turns out, it is," Timberlake told reporters at a press conference. "It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get it done, but what we were able to do in starting over has become another beautiful accident.
"In posing those questions, all that I did was put the right people in the right place at the right time all together, and watched all of them—the best at what they do—make [Mirimichi] what it has become today."
Timberlake and his parents bought Big Creek Golf Course, located 20 minutes outside Memphis, in Woodstock, Tenn., in 2007 to save the property from being snatched up by developers at auction.
Eighteen months and $16 million later, the 7,400-yard, par-72 course has emerged under a new name and with a very green focus.
Mirimichi, meaning "place of happy retreat," features seven lakes, two creeks, four waterfalls and 80 bunkers, all crafted with environmental protection in mind.
"Creating an eco-friendly course was a priority throughout the renovations," Mirimichi's director of golf, Greg King, said in a press release. "We wanted to create a world-class golf experience that protected and enhanced nature's canvas."
Timberlake set out to meet the stringent environmental standards of Audubon International, an organization that works to "provide people with the education and assistance needed to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and natural resources."
Mirimichi is a Platinum LEED-certified golf course, and a month before opening, it became the first, and currently only, Audubon International Certified Classic Sanctuary golf course in the United States (two other courses are in development). The Classic Sanctuary program was added to Audubon's certifications in January 2008 to set environmental standards for redeveloping or restoring existing golf courses, as these courses are often limited by the original design.
"Mirimichi has set the bar very high with their strong commitment to environmental stewardship and the ingenuity they have employed during this process," Audubon's Signature and Classic Program Director Nancy E. Richardson said in a press release. "The entire Mirimichi team is to be commended for their success in balancing the needs of people with the protection of the environment."
At Mirimichi, wildlife and water conservation and the restoration of natural habitats are the driving forces behind key eco-friendly features, including:
Irrigation systems that make use of rainwater and are optimized for efficient water use.
Native grasses, water features and other elements that are designed to reduce maintenance.
The lake area was increased.
A new "re-circulating stream system" helps improve water quality and offers a habitat for wildlife.
The Natural Resource Management Center uses a biodegradable treatment to clean rinse water.
The club house, set for completion in 2011, will be LEED-certified.
The addition of solar-powered golf carts is expected in the near future.
While these features will have a positive impact on the local ecosystem, the focus on nurturing and respecting the environment is an important part of the game according to Rich Peterson, Mirimichi's general manager.
"Golf is about more than hitting the perfect shot," Peterson said in a press release. "It is about promoting physical and mental well-being, preserving natural areas within urban environments and supporting native plants and wildlife. At Mirimichi, both golfers and wildlife find a place of happy retreat."