Butler’s Golf Course’s 90th Anniversary

September’s Story… Butler’s and the Environment

Although dependent on the environment, golf courses are often criticized for their negative impact on their surroundings.  From ground water pollution caused by fertilizers and pesticides to loss of natural habitats and wetlands, the concerns are great.  But golf courses also have a great opportunity to make a positive impact through implementation of industry-recognized best practices.  At Butler’s we have always been sensitive to providing an enjoyable golfing experience while protecting the natural habitat for local wildlife.  Although we have done this since the beginning, we are proud to have been officially recognized for our efforts, beginning in 2015.

Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization dedicated to providing people with the education and assistance they need to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources.  To meet this mission, the organization provides training, services, and a set of award-winning environmental education and certification programs for individuals, organizations, properties, new developments, and entire communities.  They have a specific certification program reserved for golf courses, and beginning in 2015 Butler’s became one of what are now 30 courses in Pennsylvania, and 905 across the world to be certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.  We were informed of our recertification this summer for the next three years!

One of the factors taken into consideration is our commitment to water conservation.  We have several bodies of water on property, but as shared in last month’s story, two ponds are reserved specifically to supply the course with irrigation.  Although this benefits the conditions for golf, it also provides the lifeblood for many local animal species.  Furthermore, we maintain good water quality through practices such as “limited spray zones” that is confirmed through testing during Audubon International’s site visit.  Finally, during times of drought, our Superintendent makes sound decisions that treat stress on the grass, but ensure water conservation, such as using wetting agents in the irrigation system.  These allow for plants to require less water to maintain health.

In addition to providing water for wildlife, we have connective patches of native grasses between holes, particularly on the back of the Lakeside Course.  These offer wildlife corridors for movement, and when visiting the property you may see a number of species that make Butler’s and the surrounding area their home.  We have deer, turkey, fox, great blue herons and many other birds, coyotes, raccoons, and squirrels, just to name a few.  In addition, as shared in a previous story this year, we serve as a purple martin sanctuary, with bird houses located around the clubhouse and Lakeside #17 green.

We are also proud of the vast number, and variety of trees on property.  These oxygen providers house many little critters, and supply a good bit of food in the form of nuts and fruit.  Over the last 90 years we have planted hundreds of trees, and had to remove some.  Up until the 90’s when the old Oak finally rotted, Butler’s was home to the oldest living tree in Allegheny County, found next to Lakeside #9 pond.  Another fun fact is that we had two trees carved into beautiful animals by Chainsaw Sculptor Joseph T. King.  A Willow taken down in 1994 became a bear that used to overlook the pond on Lakeside #9.  A Maple taken down in 1996 was carved into an eagle, which has stood the test of time and can still be found in the entry way to the Rock Run Inn.

It’s our desire to not only provide an environment suitable for wildlife, but to make it safe as well.  Relatively recent research has provided organic fertilizers as a substitute for synthetic versions used by golf courses for decades.  A large portion of our fertilizer program is now organic.  There is a higher expense associated with making this switch, but it significantly reduces the negative impact synthetic fertilizers have on acid levels in soil.In addition, we use preventative and lower impact processes in our spray program such as using pre-emergent, and managing nutrient levels to avoid harsher chemicals.  This makes for a healthier growing environment for plants, cleaner water, and ultimately a better environment for wildlife.

We would like to thank Audubon International for recognizing the work we put into preserving the natural habitat for wildlife.  In a society that continues to develop new land on a regular basis, we find it special that our golf course will remain a little oasis for game and fish.  Thank you for helping us celebrate our 90th Anniversary by sharing some details about the property.  We look forward to sharing more with you in October.
History Archives

January's Story - Remembering the Beginning
February's Story - Silent Park Lake and Picnic Grounds
March's Story The Tornado of 1963
April's Story - The Third Nine
May's Story - Honoring Our Long-Term Staff
June's Story - Butler’s and Our Community
July's Story - The Purple Martin
August’s Story - Irrigation at Butler’s