Four years of creating and maintaining a habitat that’s hospitable to hundreds of birds has resulted in Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status for Maderas Golf Club in Poway.
The course, designed by Johnny Miller and Robert Muir Graves in the hills about 25 minutes from downtown San Diego, is one of 69 courses in California and 902 in the world to earn the recognition by Audubon International.
“This achievement is the culmination of four years of hard work, community and government agency outreach and partnering with the local Palomar Audubon Society,” said Maderas general manager Michael Flickinger. “The process of becoming a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary began back in 2012, was nurtured by Kevin Shipley, our former assistant superintendent, and brought across the finish line by our current director of agronomy, Patrick Reilly, and equipment manager Neal Quantrell.”
The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf is an educational effort that helps courses protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game. As part of the process of becoming an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, the Maderas team implemented and documented environmental management practices in the areas of environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use reduction, water conservation and water quality management outreach and education.
Flickinger said the designation is as meaningful as any of the course’s ratings and especially gratifying given the time, effort and resources invested.
“Maderas is proud to have achieved the high standard set by Audubon International,” Flickinger said about the course that also has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses for 2015 and 2016, in addition to being on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for 2015. “This honor places Maderas in an elite group of outstanding golf courses throughout the world.”
An Audubon Society census taken last year revealed that Maderas was uniquely home to the canvasback duck. The only three – a male and two females – recorded in San Diego County were found at Maderas. Shipley, Reilly, Quantrell and a local Girl Scout troop placed birdhouses throughout the property in 2015 that served as a de facto culmination to the certification application process. “I’m very proud of the team at Maderas for all of the hard work and dedication that went into this certification,” said Aaron Feldman, owner of Sunroad Enterprises, which owns Maderas Golf Club. “It’s extremely satisfying to be recognized as an award-winning golf experience while being sensitive to the natural habitat and wildlife.”
As far as impact within the golf community, Flickinger said having Audubon International status gives Maderas cache with a certain golfing demographic.
“There are some golfers who are environmentally sensitive and seek out courses that are Audubon International-certified when they travel,” he said. “We hope to be able to attract those golfers now and think it’s not only a win for Maderas but for the city of Poway.”