Cooperative Sanctuary Program
for Golf Courses (ACSP)
Audubon International awards certification to recognize golf courses that
protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and provide wildlife
habitats. Achieving certification demonstrates a course’s leadership,
commitment, and high standards of environmental management.
Golf courses enrolled in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf
Courses (ACSP) may apply for certification. There are no restrictions on the
types of golf courses that are eligible— nine-hole par 3 courses, courses with
tight layouts, municipal courses, resort courses, tournament courses, and
country clubs are encouraged to become certified.
does it take?
Most courses achieve certification within one to three years, depending on
how quickly they plan, organize, implement, and document their environmental
The annual registration fee for the ACSP is $150 ($200 international), which
includes certification materials and review. There are no additional fees for
ACSP members receive a Certification Handbook to guide certification efforts
and documentation. The golf course begins by completing a Site Assessment and
Environmental Plan form, provided in the handbook. This information helps golf
course personnel to take stock of current environmental management practices and
submits its Site Assessment and Environmental Plan to Audubon International and
receives a Certification Status Report that offers suggestions to help it
proceed toward certification. Staff is also available via phone and e-mail to
assist golf course personnel.
Site Assessment and Environmental Plan is reviewed by Audubon International, the
course implements its plan and documents its efforts and results in each
environmental quality area.
Designation as a
Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary is awarded to a golf course upon
meeting environmental management standards in the following five areas:
The golf course enhances existing natural habitats and landscaping to promote
wildlife and biodiversity conservation. Flexibility is essential to account for
each course’s location, size, and layout, as well as special wildlife species
and habitat considerations.
Reduction and Safety
course implements best management practices at the maintenance facility and on
the course to ensure that chemicals are stored, handled, applied, and disposed
of safely. In addition, maintenance staff employ integrated pest management
strategies to track and target specific pests and minimize chemical use.
The golf course employs conservation management strategies to maximize the
efficient use of water. These include determining proper irrigation; reducing
irrigated acreage where possible; recapturing and re-using water; and
incorporating drought-tolerant plant species.
Water Quality Management
The golf course implements Best Management Practices to eliminate potential
nutrient or pesticide contamination of water sources. The course also employs
environmentally-sensitive management practices in ponds, streams, and wetlands;
proper equipment and chemical storage and handling; and water quality monitoring
to verify results.
Outreach and Education
Golf course personnel build support for their environmental management
program through a variety of communication, education, and outreach activities.
They also form a Resource Advisory Group of people who provide technical advice
and volunteer assistance to help implement the environmental plan. This helps
to ensure the long-term success of environmental management practices,
especially if staff assignments change.
How does Audubon International verify that the golf course
is meeting certification standards?
photographic documentation is required to achieve certification. If required
information is missing or management practices are not in place, Audubon
International places a “pending” status on the certification request. This
enables the course to provide the needed documentation or further develop its
On-site verification by a qualified third party is required within two years of
the initial certification. Recertification is required every two years to
ensure that courses continue to uphold certification standards. Courses that do
not submit the appropriate documentation or are no longer meeting program
requirements are decertified.
What are the benefits of certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary?
The environmental management practices required for certification
help golf courses to improve the quality of our land, water, and air, and to
conserve natural resources
for future generations.
Image and Reputation–
environmental performance can help a course differentiate itself from others in
a crowded market and add value by improving public relations and marketing
opportunities that attract new golfers or club members.
nature of a course can enrich golfers’ experience of the game. Surveys show
that golfers rank “being outside in nature” among their top reasons for playing
An effective golf
course environmental management program can result in reduced insurance
premiums, as well as reduced costs for energy, water, pesticides, fertilizers,
equipment wear, and labor.
Worker Safety and Reduced Liability-
Best practices for
chemical management reduce exposure and liability risks associated with storing,
handling, and applying chemicals.
environmental management cuts down on waste and promotes efficient operations.
For more information please e-mail Joellen Zeh, at
email@example.com or call (518) 767-9051 x14.