En­vi­ron­men­tal Awards

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Contents 01/18 - BY RON WHITTEN

How our Green Star win­ner tamed the floods.

THE PRE­SERVE AT OAK MEAD­OWS, a daily-fee in Addison, Ill., might be the most im­por­tant new golf course of 2017. Its har­ness­ing of a no­to­ri­ous creek demon­strates that a golf course can serve golfers and the greater com­mu­nity. The cre­ative way it ad­dresses floods and storm wa­ter makes it the win­ner of Golf Di­gest’s Green Star en­vi­ron­men­tal award for 2017.

The aptly named Pre­serve, for­merly known as Oak Mead­ows Golf Club, and be­fore that Elmhurst Coun­try Club, was a busy mu­nic­i­pal course—ex­cept when Salt Creek, which ran through its cen­ter, would over­flow. Acres of turf would sit un­der wa­ter for days and die.

The course’s owner, the For­est Pre­serve District of DuPage County, brought in Chicago-based golf ar­chi­tect Greg Martin, who talked with storm-wa­ter ex­perts and hy­drol­o­gists. They de­cided the so­lu­tion was to al­low Salt Creek to “breathe” as it passed through dur­ing floods. That would re­quire ex­tra room for over­flow. Af­ter three years of plan­ning and per­mit­ting, in July 2015 construction be­gan on the $17-mil­lion pro­ject to build 18 new holes on mostly new land.

Crews di­verted Salt Creek into a nar­row chan­nel and re­shaped the main stream bed into wider and deeper twists and turns to slow wa­ter down, with an ir­reg­u­lar bot­tom to aid in sed­i­ment dis­burse­ment, wa­ter fil­tra­tion and habi­tat en­hance­ment. Ad­ja­cent to the creek, they cre­ated 35 acres of wet­lands. Beyond that, they es­tab­lished 40 acres of prairie sa­van­nahs to ac­cept wa­ter if lev­els rose that high.

To make room, they had to aban­don many golf holes along the creek and cut down 1,500 mostly low-qual­ity trees. But many of the trees’ root balls were up­ended and placed at pur­pose­ful spots along the mile-and-a-half stretch of re­built creek to but­tress out­side turns, pre­vent ero­sion and pro­vide wildlife habi­tat. Of­fi­cials es­ti­mate the prop­erty can ac­cept 20 mil­lion more gal­lons of storm wa­ter than it did be­fore, enough to deal with a 100-year event.

Martin gave a tour last sum­mer, a day af­ter rains had closed many area cour­ses. The Pre­serve was dry and playable; Salt Creek was out of its banks, wide as a delta, lazily flow­ing over newly planted wet­lands and around a few low­land trees but never threat­en­ing a sin­gle hole. By the time it ex­ited the prop­erty, it was a man­age­able creek. Home­own­ers down­stream were none the wiser.

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