Of the more than 400 acres that make up the Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell, Ga., only 60 are planted in turf.
"The rest are a habitat for the Carolina wrens, mockingbirds, bluebirds and other wildlife that call this place home," said Ronald G. Dodson, president and chairman of the board of Audubon International, Audubon Society of New York State, Inc.
The Cateechee Golf Club is the 14th golf course in the world to earn the Audubon Cooperative Santuary Program's "Signature Status" stamp of environmental approval.
As a part of the ongoing program to get the community involved with the Audubon project, Cateechee has set up several volunteer opportunities.
"Northeast Georgia Master Gardeners have worked with the golf course on the bluebird project," said Charles Rice, Hart County Extension Service agent. "The Master Gardeners built the bird boxes, sited them and are keeping them monitored."
A dozen Master Gardener volunteers built and placed 43 bird boxes. "And 34 of them have birds in them already," Rice said. "They keep an eye on the types of birds and numbers for the Audubon report."
The Master Gardener team also plans to work with a local middle school to develop a nature trail and learning area for students.
"We really want to promote this as a multi-use facility for the community," Dodson said.
Because the owners planned this course to be more like a walk in the woods than playing golf in someone's backyard, no housing is planned on the Cateechee course.
"The only housing here is bird housing," Dodson quipped. He added that "90 percent of the Signature Program is attitude. The developers volunteered to create a quality program, and they are dedicated to maintaining a plan that includes the beauty and sounds of nature."
(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)