A local golf course supervisor received a conservation award in San Antonio at one of the nation’s largest golf shows.
Bear Trace Superintendent Paul Carter received the inaugural conservation award from Aquatrols during the annual Golf Industry Show.
“This is our inaugural award, so we wanted to set the bar pretty high,” Aquatrols marketing and communications coordinator Michael Hanisco said. “ [Carter] has been championing conservation for his entire career.”
Carter, 48, has had a decorated career. He joined Bear Trace in 2001 and is now also the soil management director for the nine golf courses run by the state. He has won the President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the Environmental Leadership in Golf Award from GCSAA, TurfNet’s Superintendent of the Year and four consecutive regional awards for environmental leadership from 2009-2012.
He has overseen several conservation and wilderness projects at Bear Trace, none more popular than the introduction of a bald eagle camera for the public to monitor the birds nesting on the property.
“With [the eagles]here, it’s just a feather in our cap. It’s the cherry on top of everything we’ve done,” Carter said. “ The eagles, that’s why people will know me [at the award presentation]. We have a pretty excellent golf course here as well, but I don’t mind being known by that.”
Carter oversees the 610-acre facility, and he designated roughly 50 acres of the property as natural area in recent years. The area is no longer treated but rather “naturalized,” he said, meaning they leave the land to grow to its natural state. The areas are behind greens and tee boxes, allowing the property to continue having a flush environment while keeping the golf course attractive to guests.
The project also cut back water and chemical use, an accomplishment noted in the award announcement.
“[Carter] is showing the general public that golf courses can be safe havens for wildlife,” Hanisco said.
Bear Trace is unique in that it sits inside a state park and is surrounded by woodlands rather than condominiums. The average golf course sits on 125 acres, Carter said, nearly five times smaller than Bear Trace. So when Carter goes to make decisions about the property, he considers more than cart paths, tee times and paying members. He looks at the natural state of the land and the wildlife that calls it home.
“It’s their home; we just come to work and play,” he said.