Environmental Tour at Tierra Verde Is One Hot Ticket
By Office of Communication
Posted on May 12, 2012, May 12, 2012

It takes a lot for a group of picky Master Naturalists to remain relatively speechless when asked their take on Tierra Verde Golf Course. About a dozen of them had just completed a nearly two-hour tour of the 200-plus acre course in the southwest corner of Arlington and it wasn't until Kitty Smith, who had driven an hour from her Ennis home, said "this is the most beautiful golf course I think I've ever seen"to open the complimentary floodgates.

To be drowned in ooohs and aaaahs is hardly jolting for Tierra Verde Superintendent Mark Claburn who conducts 15 to 20 tours a year. What makes this informational trek through Tierra Verde such a hot item for everyone from high school students in an environmental science class to cub scouts, girl scouts and well-versed naturalists is the wow-factor in seeing a certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary, the first municipal course in the world to be just that, in fact.

Tierra Verde's sculpted fairways and strategically placed sand bunkers and water hazards, lighted driving range and state-of-the-art learning center certainly gives it the status of a championship-caliber, 18-hole golf course but the demonstration of a high degree of environmental quality is what makes the course extra special.

These environmental tours unveils the magic behind the course's success, offering a rather personable look at the course's chemical use reduction, high-tech water conservation and management of wildlife that includes everything from road runners and coyotes to bobcats and a variety of bird life.

By hopping in golf carts and zipping around the course, Claburn explains to the different groups the science of how a golf course is managed for sustainability and how what they do at Tierra Verde affects the real world.

"It's not just something you learn and forget about,"Claburn said of the information he doles out. "It's something you can learn and apply."

The tour is so popular that groups often seek out Claburn. He recently played host to students from Country Day School in Fort Worth and Texas Christian University Environmental Science teachers. No matter the group, they are almost always shocked by what they hear -and see.

"The reputation of golf courses is that we use a lot of chemicals and a lot of fertilizers and when they learn we're using as little as possible, they're always surprised,"Claburn said. "We have sophisticated machines that put out extremely precise amounts of product where we can dial it in with a computer and get to exactly what each foot needs. We try to be as precise as possible."

Charlie Grindstaff of the Indian Trail Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist group that toured Thursday said Tierra Verde "is a great testament to what can be done. You look at this gorgeous, practical course and think: there's just no reason we can't have this type of environmental situation in more places."

By Ken Perkins

 One Hot Ticket

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