Noble Hendrix is the kind of environmentalist who’d rather do it than talk circles around it.
He’s firmly in the practical environmentalist camp, rather than the theoretical/philosophical/political, where even people of like minds can find much to squabble over.
Golf courses grow grass. No argument there.
The basic premise at GolfPreserves, for which Hendrix is a co-founder, is a variation on the carbon-credit idea: Golf courses should get credit for the grass they grow and the carbon compounds prevented by the grass from being released into the atmosphere.
Dr. Hendrix, of Palm City, Fla., is a retired surgeon, sustainable farmer and lover of golf. He’s a willing spokesperson for GolfPreserves, a nonprofit company seeking change in the golf industry. Note: They have a plan for paying for it.
It’s called “carbon sequestration,” which in English means the storing of carbon in grass and turf and out of the atmosphere. The carbon sequestered and thereby kept out of circulation at golf courses is quantified and aggregated into carbon “certificates,” which are then sold and the proceeds used to support research into how to make the golf industry ever-more-friendly to the environment.
Golf courses and their superintendents are doing more by doing less – less watering, less fertilizing, and taking thousands of acres out of active management.
They’re doing better, and they can do better yet, according to Hendrix: Mowers and other maintenance equipment run on gasoline; clubhouses and other course buildings burn a lot of electricity.
“We’re not going to stop cars and electric power, but we can use them a lot more intelligently,” Hendrix said. “If golf is the portal that gets people interested in doing something, that’s a good thing for golf.”
The science behind sequestration is explained better than this blog ever could at the GolfPreserves Web site (www.golfpreserves.com). Hendrix’ son, A. Noble Hendrix, is the head science honcho, a biologist-mathematician who applies math to biosystems to arrive at new models.
Much of the research on sequestration was done in the Denver area, where The Broadmoor, site of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2008 men’s Senior Open, is among the golf courses participating in the Colorado Carbon Project, for which GolfPreserves partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University, a land-grant university.
Nobody much argues with the science. GolfPreserves’ active supporters include the USGA Green Section, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and Audubon International.
The financing plan, too, falls on sympathetic ears among potential corporate backers.
“Nobody’s against it,” Hendrix said. “But we haven’t reached the tipping point where they’ll invest money.”
Hendrix will keep at it, because he believes the soundness of his basic message – that it’s good business to invest in the golf environment – is as inevitable as golf courses growing grass.