Green Techniques On The Green

The 6,975-yard, par-72 championship course not only accommodates wildlife, but all skill levels of play with five sets of tees. The subtle hills and off-limit natural areas, coupled with perfectly placed hazards, create a course that challenges every golfer to utilize an entire shot selection. Scenery around the layout gives it a rustic beauty that one should expect from a Texas course. Tierra Verde also features a three-hole track and a practice facility that will not leave any serious golfer wanting more. Although wildlife has plenty of room in the brush, golfers will catch glimpses of the animals often taking shortcuts across holes or spying on humans swinging pieces of metal at white-colored rocks.

“Even though we are in an urban setting, the course feels like you’re in a rural area,” said Mark Claburn, Golf Course Superintendent at Tierra Verde Golf Club. “I can’t tell you how many times we have watched a bobcat walk behind the golfers without them noticing it.”

Safe Haven For Habitats

Only 113 acres of the 250-acre site are used by the golf course and sports center. The remaining land has been preserved or rebuilt to its natural state, including creeks, bottomland hardwoods, native grasslands and prairies. One hundred and fifteen acres were left untouched during the development of this facility, providing cover and food sources for insects, birds and mammals as well as protecting native wildflowers and plum thickets. Bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass and sprangletop were used to rebuild 10 acres of degraded land. Also, Tierra Verde created more than 9,000 feet of shoreline–including six acres of ponds–for waterfowl that migrate through the area. Each hole at Tierra Verde is surrounded by native habitats, which serve as sound barriers and natural filters that keep rain runoff from flowing into the course’s creeks.

Claburn and his team go to great measures to foster an environment catering to native species. Corridors and vegetative buffers are preserved between every hole of the course to provide safe passage for wildlife to travel from one end of the property to the other without danger of human interaction. These native areas are essential to the ecosystem in that they provide shelter, water and food sources for a variety of wildlife. Dead trees are left undisturbed to provide a home for animals that nest in their cavities. Brush piles are constructed to provide additional cover for birds and mammals as well as the placement of nest boxes for various bird species, including waterfowl. Even native grass is mowed to a specific height every three years to simulate grazing.

Claburn sees this latest award as evidence that their hard work is noticed and appreciated.

“Recognition like this affirms that we are on the right track, and makes this team even more proud of the direction and vision at Tierra Verde,” said Claburn.

Preserving Resources

The methods used at the course are not only noteworthy, but also cost-efficient. Tierra Verde uses water that is tapped prior to purification (called “raw water”) so that potable water is conserved for domestic consumption, and the golf course spends 40 to 60 percent less on water each year than does a typical course in North Texas.

“We do think it’s the way the industry is going because it makes more sense,” said Claburn. “You’re going to save money in the long run because you don’t have to do as much to maintain the course.”

By preserving these natural areas and enhancing habitat, Tierra Verde has supplied the community with a site that not only provides recreational opportunities, but also ensures habitat for wildlife and plant life in the years to come.

The City of Arlington is committed to expanding environmental focus, and is currently in the process of receiving Audubon certification for its three other courses as well.

Kelly Drawdy is the Marketing Manager for Arlington Parks and Recreation. She has been with the department for two years and holds a master’s degree in communications. She can be reached via e-mail at kelly.drawdy@arlingtontx.gov

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