Page 13 From Winter 2011 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
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315 Holes Of Golf Receive Audubon International’s
Silver Certified Sanctuary Designation At The Villages

9th Hole of the Havana Club at the Villages, features floating aquatic ‘B-Mats’ for aquatic plants and grasses to grow hydroponically.

The Evironmental Friendly Golf Architecture of Clifton Ezell Clifton Golf Design Group
“32 Varieties of Birds, including Protected American Bald Eagles,
Southeastern Kestrel and Burrowing Owls Reside at The Villages”

by Ken Ezell,

 Ken Ezell & George Clifton at The Villages.

        Roughly 12 years ago, The Villages endorsed the Audubon International’s (AI) Silver Certified Sanctuary designation for all of their new and planned golf courses. Since that time, 315 holes of golf have been built and certified making The Villages the world leader in this comprehensive environmental program that promotes cooperation between development and sustainability practices that enhance landscapes and improve water quality.
        Audubon International develops Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for each course through a comprehensive “Natural Resource Management Plan.” At The Villages this plan is development by Audubon Environmental ~ an independent consultant group and Clifton Ezell Clifton Golf Design Group (CEC). Based on program requirements, this plan addressed a wide variety of planning events such as watershed drainage, wildlife protection areas, special management zones for habitat, pesticide selections, fertilizer/nutrient recommendations, and water quality considerations.

        Clifton Ezell Clifton Golf Design Group’s Ken Ezell has been the lead golf architect for The Villages since 1989 designing 441 holes of the existing 486 holes currently playable throughout the development. According to Ezell, Clifton Ezell Clifton Golf Design Group and The Villages Consultant Teams have worked diligently with Audubon International to develop simple yet unique construction techniques that fulfill key requirements for garnishing this Silver Certification designation. These include the following:

The Integrated Pesticide Storage Center at The Villages Maintenance Facilities with Audubon International certification feature a completely self contained building that houses all pesticides, spraying equipment, filling station, and rinsate containment tanks for excess pesticide materials. All measuring, mixing and handling is accomplished inside this concrete block building.

‘Audubon Swales’ at The Villages are above ground outfalls areas where golf drainage pipes from green’s construction and fairway inlets discharge prior to reaching any surface water area. This supplies a ‘water treatment train’ so nutrient uptake occurs. Rock outcropping, native grasses, and other landscape materials are installed to accomplish this filtration while providing a pleasing visual element.

Floating aquatic islands were created at The Villages because the typical littoral shelf plantings were ineffective due to the constant raising and lowering of lakes (drainage basins) that serve as the primary source of irrigation for 40,000 homes and boulevards. The golf courses are irrigated primarily by highly treated wastewater stored in separate basins. These islands developed by Steve Beeman’s Nursery are now called ‘B-Mats’ and allow for various aquatic plants and grasses to grow hydroponically in the deeper water elevations of the lakes. Deep root mass development occurs rapidly allowing nutrient removal while providing cover for fish and above water habitat for birds, insects and an occasional gator to hangout.

        During a recent certification visit, Audubon International’s Director Nancy Richardson observed 32 varieties of birds in addition to the protected American bald eagle, southeastern kestrel and burrowing owl that reside at The Villages. The Villages Master Plan has successful integrated conservation areas and preserves throughout the 26 square mile development to provide and protect habitat. Richardson points out that The Villages with its 2.7 million rounds of golf played annually on both the Championship and Executive courses, provides an excellent opportunity to expose how golf and the environment can exist cohesively when comprehensive environmental programs and planning are successfully implemented.
        Ezell states that Clifton Ezell Clifton Golf Design Group has completed the design on the remaining 135 holes of golf (three 27 hole Championship courses & six 9 hole Executive layouts) and that the opportunity to improve and enhance the environment while enjoying great golf will be even better.

For more info about Audubon International Signature and Classic Sanctuary Programs contact Nancy E. Richardson, Director of Signature and Classic Programs, Audubon International, 230 Second Street, Ste. 311, Henderson, KY 42420 Phone: (270) 869-9419, E-mail: or visit

 Water Fowl Sanctuary next to the 3rd fairway of the Nancy Lopez Course at The Villages, Florida

Page 13 From Winter 2011 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
To advertise in Florida Golf Magazine in print and on-line, phone 863-227-2751 and/or email