The Metropolitan Golf Association Foundation presented Rockland Country Club in Sparkill with the sixth annual Arthur P. Weber MGA Club Environmental Leaders in Golf Award.
The award was given at the 2012 MGA/USGA Green Chairman Education Series and Award Luncheon at Alpine Country Club in Demarest, N.J.
This award recognizes an MGA member club that has demonstrated environmental stewardship through golf course maintenance, construction, education and research. It was presented by Ken Benoit, superintendent at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, and chairman of the Arthur P. Weber MGA Club Environmental Leaders in Golf committee.
Accepting the award for Rockland Country Club were two members of the club's Greens Committee, Doug Mattliano and immediate past chairman Tom Torpey. Both men spoke about the extraordinary efforts of Rockland Country Club head grounds superintendent Matt Ceplo, who has spearheaded the club's involvement in the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program and has shrinked the environmental footprint of the Rockland Country Club grounds.
"Matt is so passionate about the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program and also about not using too much water," said Torpey. "We've transformed about 20 acres of property into native plant areas, and we're not using pesticides or water in those areas any longer," he added. "In addition, we've put up some bluebird houses, and Matt organizes an annual birdwatching event where people come and observe 40 to 50 species of birds."
Torpey also commented on how the club has become more involved with the surrounding community.
"We invite the Biology department from St. Thomas Aquinas College, which is just up the road, to come and take water samples and use them in their classrooms," Torpey said. "We also invite local Girl Scout and Cub Scout groups to come and catch butterflies and learn about our wildflowers, which is great."
The award is named in honor of past MGA President Arthur P. Weber, who died in 2008. Weber wrote an Environmental Code of Conduct for golf course maintenance at his home club, Old Westbury on Long Island, nearly two decades ago that many Met Area clubs still use as a model.
Weber was a longtime member of the USGA Green Section and helped found the MGA Green Committee and the Tri-State Turf Research Foundation. Past recipients include the Round Hill Club (2011), GlenArbor Golf Club (2010), Westchester Country Club (2009), Sebonack Golf Club (2008), and Trump National Golf Club (2007).
The award presentation to Rockland Country Club was the highlight of the Green Chairman Series program, which featured more than 150 club representatives enjoying outstanding speakers on topics ranging from environmental and economic issues, along with new and innovative ways to optimize the playing conditions of their respective courses.
The 2011 MGA/USGA Green Chairmen Education Series is part of a two month-long program of educational forums that are designed to educate club leaders and the golfing public about a wide range of issues affecting Met Area clubs and golfers. Topics include the Rules of Golf, handicapping procedures, new technology and MGA and MGA Foundation services and programs.
The Metropolitan Golf Association was founded in 1897 and is one of the nation's oldest and largest amateur golf associations representing more than 500 clubs in the tri-state Metropolitan Area. Through a network of more than 300 volunteers, and a full-time staff operating out of its Golf Central headquarters in Elmsford, the Association fulfills its role as a true non-profit service organization.