Greener, More Sustainable Golf
Golf and the environment are two of Parker Anderson’s passions. As a sustainability consultant and founder of Greener Golf (which carries on the name of his team’s SNRE/SEAS master’s project), he’s making strides toward helping the golf industry become more sustainable.
“The golf industry has a substantial and significant impact on our society and our environment, so pushing the golf industry towards sustainability, accessibility, and justice results in tremendous and powerful change, and that is where the hard work comes in, the push,” said Anderson, who has MS (’15) and MLA (’15) degrees from SEAS. “SNRE/SEAS has provided me with valuable tools and skills to facilitate that push through being able to describe the financial benefits of adopting sustainability initiatives and the importance of creating equality and accessibility in an industry that has a history and a reputation of exclusivity.”
Anderson’s expertise is landscape rehabilitation and enhancement—what he describes as “creating productive landscapes for human needs that also replenish and rejuvenate the ecology of those spaces with a specific focus on golf courses.”
A certified permaculture designer, Anderson also has a passion for beekeeping and supporting local bee populations, which he incorporates into his work with golf courses. “A few projects that I am pleased with involve golf courses adopting beekeeping programs, primarily for safety (of bees and golfers), but also to support local bee populations as well as to share in any surplus of honey that the bees produce,” he said. “These programs are fairly simple to create, and the ripple of positive impacts from supporting bees is tremendous.”
Anderson said the biggest challenge in his work is convincing golf course operators about the importance of engaging in sustainability efforts. “Being able to express sustainability efforts in monetary and value-based terms has been critical in getting many of my projects off the ground,” said Anderson, who previously worked as a research scientist for the University of Minnesota Turfgrass Research Lab, where he facilitated the Science of the Green Initiative, a research program focused on golf's relationship to the environment and how to improve it. “Calculating sustainability in monetary terms is difficult, but when externalities and indirect impacts are included in calculations, sustainability efforts can be shown to generate revenue, increase value, reduce cost, and minimize liability.”
Anderson said he’s grateful for the rewarding education experience that SEAS provided, which gave him the tools needed to make a sustainable impact on the golf industry. “I witnessed the diversity of interests and people focused on making the world better for the future,” he said. “At SEAS, we address big issues in a multitude of ways, and it was nourishing and hope-providing to witness the hard work of the community.”
For a special Earth Day 2021 report from Parker on his work, click here: https://www.drivingthegreen.golf/dtg-blog/bee-the-change