A few weeks ago, I took a look at the Isla Viveros Resort’s purportedly eco-friendly golf course. Isla Viveros is doing more than many golf courses in its quest for sustainability, but does South Carolina’s Kiawah Island Golf Resort, established in 1976, do better?
Before building the resort, Kiawah took a complete inventory of the island’s plant and wildlife. Kiawah developed a master plan for blending the resort into the island’s natural habitat–a plan which it still adheres to today. So the resort doesn’t contain any streetlights, as they could attract native Loggerhead Sea Turtles away from the beach. All buildings also remain behind an invisible line to protect the island’s dune.
The resort features a number of other initiatives geared towards preserving the island, including local fish and produce served in restaurants, beach and river sweeps, an oyster recycling program for summer oyster roasts, a shoe recycling program for guests, and interpretive tours of island flora and fauna. There’s plenty to see, too–Kiawah contains over 150 species of birds and 50 species of mammals and reptiles. Not bad for an island that’s only ten miles wide.
But what, you may ask, of the actual golf course? What steps is Kiawah taking to keep it sustainable? All five courses make use of their surrounding scenery, including natural lakes, fingers of saltwater marsh and maritime forests. But the course’s website, is mysteriously mum about other golf course initiatives. Do courses use synthetic pesticides? Does the staff limit water use? The resort’s other initiatives are remarkable by themselves, but if the actual courses are water-guzzling, pesticide-laden spaces, Kiawah has some work to do.
Update: Kiawah Island Golf Resort has informed us that their golf courses are, in fact, sustainable. All five courses on the ground are Audobon International certified sanctuaries. That means the courses use best practices in wildlife and habitat management, water conservation, resource management, and education.