Safari Golf Club at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has achieved designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. Ted Hunker, Golf Course Superintendent, led the effort over the last three years to obtain sanctuary designation on the property and is being recognized for Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International. Less than 2 percent of the 910 golf courses in Ohio and only 2.7 percent of the 33,000 golf courses worldwide have achieved the distinction of holding the title of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
“Safari Golf Club at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program. They are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property,” said Christine Kane, executive director at Audubon International.
“To reach certification, a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas,” explained Kane. These categories include: Environmental Planning, Wildlife and Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management.
“We are absolutely pleased and honored to receive this designation from Audubon International,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf. “Our team at Safari Golf Club has worked tirelessly to ensure the course has a positive impact on both the environment and our guests. Thanks to their dedication to this cause and the resulting designation from Audubon International, Safari Golf Club is situated as a leader both in the sport and in sustainability.”
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, endorsed by the United States Golf Association, provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat and protect natural resources. Golf courses from the United States, Africa, Australia, Canada, Central America, Europe, New Zealand and Southeast Asia have achieved certification in the program.
Safari Golf Club is an 18-hole, 140-acre, mature golf course located adjacent to the Columbus Zoo. The par 72 course provides a challenge for players of all skill levels and boasts a modern layout, including five world-class holes designed by course architect, Dr. Michael Hurdzan. Safari Golf Club is also a premier event destination for golf outings, business meetings, graduation parties and more. New this year, The Events Center at Safari Golf Club offers a full-service, climate controlled meeting and event space that can accommodate 30-200 guests.
Since 2013, up to six acres have been made “native areas” by removing invasive non-native vegetation and managing for or planting native species. There are expanded areas that are managed without chemicals or pesticides. All golf carts are electric, minimizing the carbon footprint. Additionally, Safari Golf Club has a butterfly garden that is used by monarchs during their annual migration. In 2017, 81 bluebirds and 147 purple martins fledged from nest boxes and rigs (artificial nest cavities) constructed just outside the fairway. Safari Golf Club has fledged 563 purple martins and 452 bluebirds since the program began in 2008. Managers at Safari Golf Club continue to work closely with partners, including Preservation Parks of Delaware County and Nest Watch Ambassador, Darlene Sillick, who has monitored birds on the course for more than 25 years.