What strange festivals can teach us about environmental management systems — pt. 3

By |  August 16, 2013

And now, time for our final installment from Kevin Fletcher, president and CEO of e-Par USA…

Wacky Festival #3: The Testicle Festival

Don’t shoot the messenger on this one—it’s real.  Each summer, Rock Creek Lodge in Clinton, Mont., holds its very own Testicle Festival, where festival goers dine on these bull delicacies, (a.k.a. “Rocky Mountain oysters”) and participate in a variety of somewhat risqué events, including a wet T-shirt contest, bull chip throwing contest, and a hairy chest contest.  This annual festival draws about 10,000 bawdy participants, and over 4,000 pounds of this unorthodox food item are consumed.  Learn More: http://www.legendsofamerica.com/mt-testiclefestival.html

The Environmental Management Lesson:  Golf’s most important asset is the natural environment.  If you’re not focused on protecting and promoting this asset, you’re nuts.  Market the environmental benefits you have, not only to golfers, but to the community as well.  However, make sure you’re performing well first—this means having that Environmental Policy, making environmental plans, and managing all of those obligations, expectations, and aspirations with some type of environmental management system (EMS).  You don’t want your environmental efforts to be seen as a load of bull.  Learn more about Environmental Management Systems here: http://gsr.lib.msu.edu/2000s/2007/070723.pdf

Wacky Festival #4: Frozen Dead Guy Days

Grandpa Bredo died in 1989 in Norway.  The Bredo family was into cryonics, and so, Grandpa was frozen.  In 1993, his daughter moved him into a shed near their home in Nederland, Colo.  Word got around, and now, every year in March the town celebrates Screen shot 2013-08-16 at 1.54.32 PM“Frozen Dead Guy Days.”  People come from near and far to take part in the death-and-winter-themed festivities, including ice-turkey bowling, frozen-T-shirt contests, coffin races, and the frozen-salmon toss.  There’s music, beer, and of course, the chance to chill out with Grandpa Bredo in his shed.  Learn more: www.frozendeadguydays.org

The Environmental Management Lesson:  OK, golf isn’t dead, but there are plenty of clubs and courses around the country that remain frozen in outdated ways of managing their environmental obligations, expectations, and aspirations.  Agronomic practices have evolved over time, using innovation and technology to make the practice and science of turf management more efficient and effective.  Other areas of environmental management need to evolve too.  Are you using online environmental tracking and reporting tools?  Do you have on-demand MSDS sheets, environmental training materials, and registries?  Have you conducted a risk assessment of your activities?  Don’t stay frozen.  There are innovative environmental management tools and approaches available that would make even Grandpa warm up to a world of new possibilities.  Some of these tools are available here: http://www.gcsaa.org/course/default.aspx

Time to Celebrate?

A recent survey of over 300 golf course superintendents revealed that the gap between good intentions and performance in number of important areas of environmental management is pretty wide.  Over 75% of golf facilities lack written Environmental Management Plans, adequate environmental training for staff, and as stated earlier, even a basic written Environmental Policy statement.  Most have not conducted an environmental risk assessment of operations, and two-thirds stated that they’re not sure if they’re meeting environmental regulatory requirements or managing their environmental risks adequately. A summary of this survey is found here: http://www.eparusa.com/uploads/files/SustainableGolfSummary.pdf

The good news is there are plenty of resources available to help match these good intentions with good environmental outcomes—and plenty of wacky festivals to help along the way.  That’s something to celebrate.  Golf’s own celebration of the natural environmental needs to include good policies, plans, procedures, practices, and people—the frozen T-shirt contest is optional.  If you can embrace the lessons to be learned from Mike, Grandpa, and the others and use the resources already available (as noted throughout), you’ll be confident in your environmental performance, and you’ll be able to avoid the type of environmental management challenges best embodied in Tokyo’s “Crying Baby Festival.”  (I’ll let you look that one up yourself.)

About the Author: Kevin A. Fletcher, Ph.D. is President & CEO of e-par USA, Inc.  To learn more about wacky small town festivals or environmental management solutions for golf operations, he can be reach at kevin@eparusa.com

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