timberlake-golf
by China DeSpain
Categories: Causes, Environment, Sports
Tags: .

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He’s already conquered music, movies and fashion design, and now Justin Timberlake can add another bullet point to his resume: environmental golf course entrepreneur.

In case you didn’t know, Timberlake owns Mirimichi, a golf course in his home state of Tennessee, and it’s one of the greenest in the country (the name is the Cherokee word for “a place of happy retreat”). Originally known as Big Creek, Timberlake played the course as a child. When the economy forced it out of business, Timberlake jumped at the chance to purchase and revamp it. When he bought it four years ago, he did so with eco-features in mind. “I was able to pose the question, ‘Is it possible for a golf course to actually be “green”?’,” he said. The answer to that is a resounding yes. Read on to discover 10 ways Mirimichi is an environmental gem.

Recognition and Education

Mirimichi was one of the first ten GEO certified courses in the world.Mirimichi is Golf Environment Organization (GEO) Certified. This is a pretty rare achievement; in fact, Mirimichi was one of the first ten golf courses in the world to receive the GEO certification, and it’s the only one in North, South or Central America. The designation “recognizes our commitment to environmental sustainability by protecting and enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity, maximizing resource efficiency, reducing waste, and conserving cultural heritage and landscapes.”
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com 

Timberlake was awarded the EMA's "Futures" award for Mirimichi's green elements.The course is an environmental award winner. Last year, the Environmental Media Association awarded Timberlake with a Futures Award for environmental efforts. Additionally, Mirimichi was”named a Merit Winner of the 2011 Golf Digest / GCSAA Environmental Leaders in Golf Award.” According to Timberlake’s site, this honor “recognizes golf course superintendents and their courses for overall course management excellence in the areas of resource conservation, water quality management, integrated pest management, wildlife/habitat management, and education/outreach. In addition, these categories are judged on sustainability, criticality, originality, and technology implementation/use.”
Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

The Mirimichi staff works to educate the public about the course's environmental initiatives.The staff promotes green initiatives. Education and outreach is a core principle at Mirimichi. Every employee undergoes training on the course’s environmental highlights; that information is shared through tours and public outreach at schools, churches, businesses, and more. The goal of this outreach is to promote:

Photo credit: Mirimichi Facebook

Wildlife

Mirimichi's water features and native grasslands serve as a wildlife habitat.Mirimichi isn’t just a golf course — it’s also a nature preserve. Not only does it feature “abundant native grassland, four waterfalls, six lakes and two meandering streams,” but Mirimichi is the first golf course to be certified as an Audubon International Classic Sanctuary. According to the course’s website, this means that it implemented “sustainable resource management principles that incorporate wildlife conservation, habitat rehabilitation and enhancement, water conservation and water quality protection. Audubon International (AI) certification requires a yearly audit to ensure Mirimichi continues to implement these natural resource management principles long term.”
Photo credit: Aidan Bradley / Mirimichi 

Mirimichi's buffers protect both the land and wildlife.Its buffers protect both land and animals. Mirimichi is bordered by forest and a large amount of land that protects against future development, and the water features are buffered as well. The Mirimichi site explains that, “Along with conversion of turfgrass to grassland habitat, buffers and littoral shelves (shelves planted with aquatic vegetation along banks) have been added to on-site streams and ponds. Buffers and shelves protect water quality and provide safe, easy access to water resources for wildlife.”
Photo credit: Aidan Bradley / Mirimichi 

Mirimichi's out-of-play areas provide a wildlife habitat.It has large “out-of-play” zones. When Timberlake renovated the course, he did more than just move tee boxes and improve greens. He also reduced the area of “managed turf” on the course — by more than 100 acres — which equals narrower fairways and larger “rough” areas. This might make the game a little tougher, but it does a lot for the environment. Why? Because, “managed turf requires relatively more water, fertilization, and chemicals to control pests than native grasses, shrubs, and trees. These converted native areas also provide habitat for wildlife to feed, rest, breed, and use as safe corridors in which to move across the property.”
Photo credit: Aidan Bradley / Mirimichi 

Water

Water quality at Mirimichi is regularly tested for cleanliness.Mirimichi has water quality measures in place. The course’s original name, Big Creek, has a source: the onsite stream known as, you guessed it, Big Creek. The course also features ponds and wetlands, as well as a second stream named Caney Creek. And Timberlake wants to make sure that all that water stays clean. The water quality program regularly measures the cleanliness of the water to make sure it isn’t degraded by construction or use. Not only is that great for the environment and wildlife, but it should also simplify finding your ball if you hit into the hazards.
Photo credit: Aidan Bradley / Mirimichi 

The parking lots and cart paths are protected from water runoff and potential pollution.It handles runoff responsibly. It takes a lot of water to maintain pristine greens, and the crew at Mirimichi pays attention to where excess water goes — specifically storm water. A treatment and filtration system was implemented on the course to prevent potential pollutants from contaminating the parking lots, cart paths, and “environmentally sensitive areas.”
Photo credit: Aidan Bradley / Mirimichi 

Sustainable Construction

Timberlake plans to build a LEED-certified clubhouse at Mirimichi.Its future clubhouse will be green, too. Timberlake’s renovations go beyond the outdoor property; he also intends to create a LEED-certified clubhouse for the course. According to the Mirimichi site, these measures will “substantially reduce water and energy consumption, protect indoor air quality and occupant health, and use sustainable building materials that include local and recycled materials, as well as reduce the amount of construction waste diverted to area landfills.”
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

The Mirimichi maintenance facility blends high-quality course maintenance with sustainable principles.The course has a Natural Resource Management Center. The clubhouse won’t be the only building on the course dedicated to environmental practices.  The NRMC is “the building in which pieces of equipment are serviced, and pesticides, fuel, fertilizer, and cleaning solvents are stored. The building has been designed to reduce the potential for spills and prevent pollution of soil, surface water, or ground water.” On top of that, Mirimichi offers integrated pest management, which reduces the overall need for fertilizers and pesticides and ensures landscape maintenance practices are environmentally-sound. It’s the perfect fusion of tour-quality care and green golfing.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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This list is impressive, and it’s not even comprehensive — there are plenty of other green features at work. Back in 2009, Timberlake highlighted his favorite.

“While we have several initiatives that make Mirimichi eco-friendly, one of the greatest in my opinion is that while we use 80 percent of the energy we produce, we return 20 percent to the Tennessee Energy Grid,” he said.

Of course, there’s more to Mirimichi than its sustainability. It’s also a top quality course, and one that Timberlake plays when he has the time.

“When I’m on the golf course, it seems to be the only place where I can shut it all off, just go out there and hit a little ball at a hole 450 yards away. You know, I get lost in the beauty of the courses I play. I get lost in the game. That’s when it really hits you that it really is the greatest game ever played.”

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About China DeSpain

China DeSpain is a San Antonio-based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Hermanseco Anna Herman

    Justin Timberlake is a disgrace to the Green Movement . Golf courses aren’t green . Maybe if you didn’t build one. When I saw him on Oprah several years ago bragging about his clothes line . Showing a black leather Jacket was that made in China? It made me sick. Who does he think he is fooling? Green washer.
    Eco Designer Anna Herman

    • Crunchie Hippie Stinky

      How is it not green. A golf course is a haven for all sorts of wild life and is nature at it’s best. Quit being a Banana Anna.

  • Anthony Armstrong

    Can I pay a round there?