The Venice Golf And Country Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
The Venice Golf and Country Club is alongside and connected by water to Florida’s 10,000-acre Myakka River preserve. The Club has restored native wetlands and riparian vegetation to the 60+ acres of natural habitats on the property. The staff work closely with local, regional, and state agencies on innovative water and land use and have achieved mutually beneficial successes. Turfgrass cultivars are well selected and a recent renovation with technological improvements allow very precise monitoring and management of soil conditions and turf health. Nature trails and continued native plantings are planned for the coming year.
The Club is perched in a basin with little flow on or off the property and is alongside a county reservoir used for water storage. Measures for irrigation efficiency and the use of technology as a tool for reducing inputs are excellent. As a result, Venice Golf and Country Club uses less than half of the volume of water of the average US golf course. Continual improvements include focusing on reducing potable water use.
Venice Golf and Country Club has made great strides in reducing energy consumption. Heat recovery from compressors supplies nearly all hot water. Geothermal pumps allow heat exchange and temperature regulation to pools and spas. All exterior lighting is LED. In the Clubhouse, are large spaces have been converted to LED. Irrigation pumps use variable frequency drives. While all energy now comes from fossil fuel sources, the Club will evaluate battery powered maintenance equipment during 2016. Future plans include gradual replacement with more energy efficient appliances.
The Club has a purchasing policy that focuses on supporting local and regional businesses, minimizing waste, and selecting suppliers with accredited manufacturing practices. A survey of suppliers’ commitment to environmental and social responsibility greatly increased awareness and improved purchasing decisions. The use of technology to monitor, identify, create meaningful thresholds, and then provide inputs only if needed, is part of the prevention philosophy by the golf management team. The Club recently completed a waste stream audit and is awaiting the results.
Venice Golf and Country Club has a thorough understanding of water quality due to the nearly closed loop system in which they operate. The combination irrigation and storm water system, with quality closely monitored by the state, is an effective and non-polluting success. Waste and wash water are properly treated through either on- or off-site facilities. The Club appears to carefully capture, handle, and contain potentially hazardous materials. Bulk fuel areas have two to three layers of protection and Best Management Practices are in place. The Club plans to continue to monitor potential sources of pollution, especially within the Environmental Resource Center facility.
Venice Golf and Country Club has a successful community program in place and their sustainable business accomplishments and leadership are known in the community. The sustainability working group or ‘green team’ is composed of club staff and is active on environment and resource use by the Club. The Club is a founding member of the local Green Business Partnership. There is a noticeable pride among staff in their sustainability accomplishments. The general manager and superintendent plan to continue to speak on sustainable topics and look for outreach opportunities.
The ponds, wetlands, and out-of-play uplands at The Venice Golf and Country Club are adjacent and directly connected by water to the Myakka River preserve. The Club has made great strides in restoring native wetlands and adding healthy riparian buffers. The potential richness of plants and animals found in southwestern Florida has now begun to return to the 60+ acres of natural habitats on the property. The Club is working closely with county and regional government agencies on voluntary projects that improve natural functions and provide access to nature both on and off the property. The recent course renovation to Bermudagrass cultivars has been positive and the turf looks healthy and fantastic.
The Venice Golf and Country Club has gone well beyond what is required and in fact has sought out deepening relationships with agencies. The Club works with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and branches of Sarasota County government including Solid Waste and Environmental Services. Many successes have stemmed from these relationships including smarter water use, natural habitat restoration and management, and access by residents to adjacent natural areas owned by the county. The Club also enjoys working with a resident Florida Master Naturalist on a regular basis.
While the property itself does not have any special designations, the Venice Golf and Country Club is alongside the >10,000-acre Myakka River – Deer Prairie Creek preserve that has been recently restored. The >60 acres of ponds, wetlands and woodlands are ecologically connected to this nationally recognized important stream system.
The greens at Venice Golf and Country Club are grassed with TifEagle Bermudagrass and the other playing surfaces with Tifway 419. Celebration Bermudagrass was planted in shaded areas. These warm-season cultivars are excellent for the climate and soil conditions and are particularly well suited to the management philosophy promoting quality, fast playing conditions. I was especially impressed with these selections of turfgrass in combination with the precise monitoring and surgical management of the turf by the maintenance team.
The Venice Golf and Country Club team understands the importance of the connection of the course’s waterways to the Myakka River that runs to the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, an ‘Outstanding Florida Water’ along the Gulf of Mexico. Staff work closely with the Southwest Florida Water Management District on management of water quality and quantity and with the county on management of adjacent uplands. I noticed many pond banks and out-of-play areas that have been converted to Florida native plantings of shrub and grasses. It was obvious that this has been an ongoing effort for some time. Aquatic and littoral shelf non-native plants are well monitored and managed, as this has been a problem the Club has dealt with in the past.
Unlike most Florida golf courses that use treated wastewater as their irrigation source, Venice Golf and Country Club uses nearly 100% surface runoff from the property. The Club is perched in an area with little water coming onto or leaving the property. Regular reviews of this system result in no changes being made because switching to a treated wastewater source would increase the potential for negative effects on water quality. In addition, Venice Golf and Country Club uses less than half of the volume of water of the average US golf course.
The ultimate source for irrigation water was verified to be storm water that falls on the property and is collected in an adjacent 44-acre county pond. While treated wastewater and wells are available water sources, storm water from onsite is the best environmental source. In addition, as a result of close monitoring of soil moisture and the surgical irrigation system, the consumption of irrigation water is low relative to other Florida courses.
Measures for irrigation efficiency are very well done. In fact, the use of technology as a tool for reducing inputs to the course is the best I’ve seen. All variables including fine-scale soil moisture, visible inspections, and satellite monitoring of stress hotspots are monitored. Coupled with irrigation heads that are individually mapped, programmed, and controlled, irrigation is used precisely where it’s needed.
Reduction of water consumption is a focus at the Clubhouse through selection of low-flow appliances and fixtures. Maintenance of plumbing fixtures is a daily inspection item and no leaky or wasteful fixtures were observed during my visit.
While fossil-fuel sources of energy are relatively cheap and plentiful in Florida, Venice Golf and Country Club has made careful and successful efforts to reduce energy use. Hot water, lighting and HVAC systems have been a focus, with more energy-efficient appliances and fuel source diversification being excellent goals for the future.
At this time, nearly all energy comes from fossil fuel sources. The Club will evaluate lithium battery powered maintenance equipment during 2016. However, the Club has made great strides in reducing consumption of energy in nearly all areas as detailed below.
Venice Golf and Country Club uses heat recovery from cooling and refrigeration compressors to supply nearly all of their hot water. They also converted all pool and spa heat pumps to geothermal pumps that also allow heat exchange between the pool and spa. In effect, their alternative energy sources are their own waste energy and the constant-temperature energy underground. Alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar, are available, but the cost versus fossil-fuel energy is still prohibitive in this part of the US. However, solar is attracting more attention in south Florida and capital costs for solar installations are slowly decreasing.
The Club has undertaken numerous activities that I observed firsthand. Conversion of heat pumps to geothermal pumps, waste heat recovery to Zero Energy Hot Water, instant hot water in remote locations, and on-demand ‘Intelli-hood’ for kitchen exhaust are some of the highlights. Venice Golf and Country Club has been systematically converting to LED fixture for some time. All exterior community street and parking lot lights have been converted from metal halide to LED. All landscape lighting is LED. In the Clubhouse, large dining areas, offices and the kitchen have been converted to LED with some energy costs as low as 1/10th of the previous costs to operate. Variable frequency drives were installed on irrigation pumps which saved thousands per year in electrical energy consumption.
Venice Golf and Country Club is a stellar example of how to use technology efficiently to conserve resources and reduce natural resource inputs. The Club has also been embracing the environmental and social responsibility of their supply chain for the past few years, which is exemplary. The most challenging supply chain element is continuing to encourage members to share the mission of responsibility along with the management team.
Venice Golf and Country Club has instituted a targeted and comprehensive purchasing policy that focuses on supporting local and regional businesses, minimizing waste, and selecting suppliers with accredited manufacturing practices. The Club relied on guidance from the US Environmental Protection Agency, and a sustainable supply chain contractor.
Of the facility’s major suppliers, about 75% are from Florida. For suppliers that include natural resources such as sod and sand as well as food, there is an excellent local supply chain. The Club has investigated its main suppliers and their commitment to environmental and social responsibility through a contracted survey. This has greatly increased their awareness of their suppliers and improved their ability to make more informed decisions on purchasing.
The cultural practices of very precise monitoring, irrigation, and fertilization combined with the recent conversion to TifEagle and Celebration turfgrasses create excellent conditions for minimizing inputs. The prevention mindset is comprehensive at this course, where the range of monitoring goes from the soil all the way up to the sky – satellite analysis is used to map stress hotspots. The judicious use of technology to monitor, identify, create meaningful thresholds, and then only provide inputs if needed, is stellar at Venice Golf and Country Club.
The reuse or recycling of course natural resources is a focus at Venice Golf and Country Club. The Club recently completed a waste stream audit and is awaiting the results. The vast majority of ‘wastes’ are re-used or recycled. For golfers, visitors, and staff, there are plenty of opportunities to choose to recycle or to use a non-disposable container. The Club is communicating with members on waste minimization behaviors such as reusing beverage containers versus buying and disposing plastic bottles.
There is a keen awareness among the golf leadership of the potential sources of pollution throughout the property. Prevention and control measures are excellent at Venice Golf and Country Club. There are numerous Best Practices in place, starting with reducing the use of hazardous materials, then putting protections in place, and monitoring for any releases, especially into the reservoir.
Venice Golf and Country Club has a very thorough understanding of their water quality due to the nearly closed loop system in which they operate. Storm water from the property drains to an adjacent county reservoir that also collects surface water from a closed landfill. This collected water is then used to irrigate the course and landscape. The state closely and comprehensively monitors this reservoir water and has measured the improvement in quality of the water after it is applied on the course, runs through the drains and ponds, and ends up back at the reservoir.
Waste water generated from potable water use at Venice Golf and Country Club as well as some individual drains in the maintenance facility are properly disposed of to the municipal treatment plant or to approved septic system. All wash pad water, where mowers and all other equipment are cleaned, is treated through an on-site closed loop recycling unit.
Venice Golf and Country Club appears to carefully capture any residual pesticides in a properly constructed and operated mix and load station. Potential hazardous materials appeared to be well contained and used containers were cleaned, stored and properly shipped out for recycling. Areas at risk for bulk fuel spillage have two to three layers of protection to contain any accidental release.
All potentially polluting activities appeared to be performed using Best Management Practices. Parts are washed using microbial cleaners as opposed to hazardous solvents. Used oil and batteries were well stored for proper disposal or recycling.
The closed loop drainage-reservoir-irrigation system as described is calculated to effectively remove 4,000 pounds of nitrogen - which is pollution prevention BY the golf course. No-spray buffers at 20-feet wide are in use throughout the course along all water bodies. The excellent monitoring and precise application of fertilizer, pesticide, and water also dramatically reduces the potential for water and soil pollution.
Venice Golf and Country Club has a solid community program in place that embodies successful sustainability. The Club’s accomplishments are well known in the community and in particular, the General Manager is a sought after speaker and spokesperson for Green Business. Staff are well trained to continually improve and there is a mindset to look for positive changes to the Club.
The General Manager and superintendent are both on a mission to make the Club as efficient as possible in all areas. This drive is seen in the staff that they’ve hired and the training that the staff receive. There is a positive outlook that I noticed among the staff to make meaningful yet practical changes to reduce resource use. Training and education for staff and guests was verified firsthand.
At Venice Golf and Country Club, this is called the Green Team and it is composed of staff from each department of the club. The Green Team is an active group that identifies and acts on ideas to improve, make more and efficient, and educate on all things related to the environment and resource use.
Venice Golf and Country Club is an obvious part of their community on several levels. The Club is a founding and very active member of the local Green Business Partnership. There are numerous agreements between the Club and various agencies that show a long-term commitment to making good, practical decisions. This cooperation is evidence of the Club’s good will within the community.
While culturally or historically significant resources are not known from the Venice Golf and Country Club site, the property borders the Myakka River preserve. This headwater is a regionally significant water that drains to an exceptional quality estuary along the Gulf of Mexico. While a legacy landfill is an adjacent land use, this has now become the site of a well-used nature trail maintained by the Club.
Staff are trained and educated on environmental and resource use topics regularly. There are also numerous reminders of sustainability action items posted. There is a noticeable positive culture at the Club and a pride in their sustainability accomplishments.
Sustainability events and actions are shared through press releases, local media, and website. There are brochures and postings in guest gathering areas at Venice Golf and Country Club. The member newsletter highlights both nature and sustainability topics. The General Manager is a frequent speaker on sustainable resource use in the Green Business community. The Club’s GEO, Audubon, and Green Business certifications are posted on signs and other prominent locations.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Register of Accidents
- Training Log
After an on-site visit and review of all documents, I recommend Venice Golf and Country Club for re-certification.
The Club works closely with county and regional government on voluntary projects that protect natural functions, improve water quality, and provide access to nature both on and off the property.
Venice Golf and Country Club is alongside the >10,000-acre Myakka River preserve. The >60 acres of ponds, wetlands and woodlands on property are well restored with Florida native shrub and grasses.
The significant reduction of inputs to the course through the effective use of technology at all scales is outstanding.
The clubhouse staff have reduced energy use dramatically by using geothermal and 'waste' heat.
The Club uses a closed-loop runoff, landfill reservoir, irrigation system that is innovative and regionally beneficial for protecting water quality.
The Club and staff are recognized local leaders in 'green business'.
Remote coded master control of each individual sprinkler head for precise application of water, expected to reduce annual irrigation totals by 35%.
On-field weather station to conserve irrigation water when not required.
Subscription to GPS service which monitors and indicates levels of stress on turfgrass.