The Venice Golf and Country Club has been recognized by the international Golf Environment Organization as “an outstanding example of environmentally sensitive golf” and a leader in sustainable environmental practices, both locally and internationally. This achievement is the culmination of 10 years of extensive environmental efforts by Club management, and distinguishes The Venice Golf and Country Club as one of only four GEO Certified™ golf courses in the United States.
The GEO is an independent, not-for-profit organization that advocates and advises the global golf community on sustainable environmental practices. Its prestigious GEO Certified™ mark is widely endorsed as the most credible, comprehensive ecolabel for progressive properties that recognize the impact their golf courses have on the wider environment.
Accredited GEO Sustainability Associate Bud Smart is a highly regarded freshwater ecologist who has worked on more than 200 golf projects in 22 countries. In his detailed report on The Venice Golf and Country Club, he was distinctly impressed by the ecological awareness of the club’s management team and their efforts to contribute to the health of the Myakka River watershed.
“The Venice Golf and Country Club boasts well-established water use policies that are logical yet innovative,” Smart said. “In its efforts to secure sustainable long-term supplies of irrigation water, the Club made a 2005 agreement with Sarasota County and the state to route storm water runoff into a 44-acre lake at a closed county landfill, via a specially made connection. Now, 99 percent of the Club’s irrigation water is sourced from this surface runoff, a solution that is a testament to ingenuity, creativity and perseverance.”
Much of that perseverance is credited to the efforts of The Venice Golf and Country Club’s General Manager, Jim Schell, who set a goal to achieve certification as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary back in 2002. The Club achieved that goal in 2004, then continued with additional environmental initiatives that resulted in achieving the GEO Certified™ recognition this year.
“The natural beauty of our 460 tropical acres is central to the appeal of this member-owned golf community,” said Schell. “We have 52 acres of nature preserves, ecologically rich woodlands and lakes that we manage with both golfers and wildlife in mind. We’re also working hard to ensure that our management of the environment has benefits that extend to the larger community outside the Club’s boundaries.”
In addition to the sustainable water use policies above, The Venice Golf and Country Club has implemented the following notable ecological programs:
• Eradicating invasive exotic plants that were negatively affecting native plant and animal species. Brazilian Pepper trees were crowding out native vegetation, and Melaleuca trees had proliferated in wetland areas, drying them out and decreasing their biodiversity value. After receiving approval from two governmental agencies, the Club invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the property’s wetlands to a natural state. “These efforts have encouraged wildlife movement through the corridors that connect our wetland and upland areas,” said Schell,“and improved the buffer zones between the golf course and the nature preserves.”
• Analyzing the Club’s supply-chain network to develop a Green Product Procurement Policy. The Club communicated its preference for sustainable products, services and practices to its network of suppliers to find “greener” products and services that can be purchased locally. “By working with our vendors, we now receive more bulk packaging to reduce waste, and we try to source 75 percent of our supplies from within 100 miles of the Club,” explained Schell. “This reduces our carbon footprint and increases our positive economic impact on the community.”
• Reducing energy consumption. The Venice Golf and Country Club installed geothermal pumps in the swimming pool and spa areas to reduce electrical consumption. In the restaurant’s kitchen, the Club invested in a new system to run gasses generated by the compressors on air conditioning and refrigeration units through a series of zero-energy hot water generators, resulting in free hot water and saving approximately $1,000 per month.
Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of the GEO, said “The management team at the Venice Golf and Country Club clearly has a thorough understanding of the property and surrounding landscapes, conservation areas and the relationship of their golf course to the wider environment. Multiple projects have lessened their environmental footprint while simultaneously raising the ecological value of the site.”
For details, see the GEO’s full report on The Venice Golf and Country Club, published January 4, 2012, at: golfenvironment.org/clubs/thevenicegolfandcountryclub
About The Venice Golf and Country Club
The Venice Golf and Country Club is a private, member-owned community of 587 single-family homes in a prime location only 7 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and 20 miles from Sarasota’s vibrant arts scene. The property’s 460 acres encompass a professionally designed 18-hole golf course, 26 lakes and 13 nature preserves. The meticulously maintained and frequently updated facilities include 4 Har-Tru tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center, resort-style swimming pool and spa, and an elegant clubhouse for social functions and fine dining. For more information, visit venicegolfandcc.com or call 941-492-9600.
Grapevine Communications is a full-service, award-winning advertising, marketing and public relations firm based in Sarasota, Florida, and serving clients nationwide. The firm was awarded the 2010 Frank G. Berlin, Sr., Small Business Award by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and donated over $148,000 in pro-bono services to area non-profits in 2011. For more information on Grapevine Communications, call 941-351-0024 or email luzzo[.]grapeinc.com.