Environmentally- Friendly Course Opens in Nebraska

The ArborLinks Golf Course in Nebraska City, Neb., is an experiment in environmentally-friendly course design. Arnold Palmer, Edward Seay, CEO of Palmer Course Design, and Lincoln-based Landscapes Unlimited teamed up with the National Arbor Day Foundation to develop the $4-million eco-friendly course. To help advance environmental stewardship within the golf industry, Palmer Design Co. of Ponte Verde Beach, Fla., donated its time and expertise free of charge.

The project broke ground in 2000 and, after two years of careful consideration of every design detail, the course finally opened for play on June 21, 2002. The development team took every measure possible to ensure the course protected the native environs. For example, to help control water runoff drought-resistant, native grasses were used to minimize water usage and ponds were built to collect and re-use the runoff that does occur. Although the facility will limit pesticide and fertilizer use, wetlands were strategically added to filter out damaging chemical residues. As expected from a design influenced by the National Arbor Day Foundation, trees were planted and old trees were saved. Even the smallest details were taken into consideration. The tees sold in the clubhouse are made from biodegradable corn and the scorecards were printed with soy ink.

To ensure the effectiveness of the precautionary measures taken during the design phases, the water quality, soils and vegetation will be monitored to measure the environmental impact of the golf course. With the information gathered, maintenance officials will be able to determine what works and what doesn’t in maintaining this and future courses.

Arbor Links has been described as a “user-friendly” course. The par-72 track features four sets of tees and plays between 4,881 and 7,031 yards. It also boasts a learning facility and two practice greens. The clubhouse contains a full-service bar and grill with both indoor and outdoor seating. While traveling from one hole to the next, golfers can read “Conservation Stories” along the way. These stories detail the conservation efforts made by the developers to create a sustainable environment.

Christine Todd Whitman, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, attended the grand opening of the ArborLinks and played nine holes with Palmer. In an article in the Lincoln Journal Star, Whitman praised the use of native grasses, the efforts to minimize tree damage, and the use of runoff water in holding ponds to irrigate the course. She told the newspaper that Arbor Links proves golf courses can be a contributor – rather than a detractor – to the environment.

Greens fees for ArborLinks are $60 for 18 holes and include a cart. For more information or a tee time, call toll-free 866/272-7453 or 402/873-4334.