‘Tennessee State Parks’ Golf Course Equipment Is Kicking Gas’
Special to Fleets & Fuels by Chad Kimes, Tennessee Office of Sustainable Practices
Tennessee State Parks golf courses are replacing gasoline-powered equipment with electric options, decreasing emissions, and reducing wildlife-disturbing noise. Purchase of the equipment was funded by the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant and includes greens and approach mowers, bunker rakes, greens rollers, and utility vehicles. Purchased equipment was manufactured by Jacobsen, Smithco, Tru Turf, Toro Workman, and Club Car.
Overall, the new equipment will provide an estimated 300% decrease in annual operating expenses and a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Coupled with economic and environmental benefits, the electric equipment is essentially silent when operating, minimizing noise that could disturb both golfers and wildlife. Additionally, there are no fluids to manage, such as hydraulic or other automotive fluids, eliminating potential impacts to vegetation and groundwater, while also reducing staff labor costs.
For Tennessee State Parks, the new fleet of electric equipment is the latest in a long history of environmental initiatives including water quality and conservation, wildlife and habitat management, and decreasing chemical usage.
One of the driving forces behind Tennessee State Park golf courses’ environmental leadership is Bear Trace at Harrison Bay superintendent Paul Carter, winner of Turf Net’s 2011 Superintendent of the Year award.
“In addition to the many environmental benefits, the Jacobsen Eclipse mowers have also allowed us to provide a quality-of-cut that we haven’t been able to produce before,” said Carter. “The machines’ programmable frequency-of-clip gives us the flexibility to change the amount of grass removed from the green quickly without having to change gears, sprockets or fittings.
“Saving the additional time and wear and tear on the greens and surrounds is another added benefit that is very important to our operation.”
In 2013, under the management of Carter, the course won Golf Digest’s Green Star Award in recognition of sustainable operation. Electric greens equipment is not the only environmentally friendly thing happening at the course. Since 2010, two live camera feeds document the comings and goings of two bald eagles, Elliot and Eloise that nest near the top of the 130-foot pine situated between the number 10 green and number 11 tee box. In the past six years, the Eagle Cam has received well over 1 million views. The eagles’ decision to stay at The Bear Trace and make it home serves as validation for the initiative Carter spearheaded.
“To know we’re the place they want to raise their family — that’s the biggest stamp of approval,” Carter says. “It says we’re doing something right. Or not doing something wrong, whichever way you want to look at it.”
Chad Kimes works for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Office of Sustainable Practices, and his primary focus is energy efficiency and water conservation across the state portfolio. Chad began his career in environmental enforcement, including water and waste water, infectious and hazardous materials, solid waste, indoor air quality, restaurants, public swimming pools, vector control, and landfills. Chad is a Registered Environmental Health Specialist with the National Environmental Health Association and also a Professional Energy Manager with the Institute of Energy Professionals. Chad has a BS in Business Management from Park University and pursuing a dual Master’s degree in Business Administration and Project Management from American Graduate University.
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Source: Tennessee Office of Sustainable Practices