Did you know that the Stowe Mountain Golf Club is a certified Audubon International Signature Sanctuary?

What does this mean? In Audubon International’s own words: “The Audubon Signature Program provides comprehensive environmental planning assistance to new developments. The program helps landowners and developers design for the environment so that both economic and environmental objectives are achieved. Once construction is complete, involvement in an Audubon Signature Program ensures that managers apply sustainable resource management practices in the long-term stewardship of the property.”

I am not a golfer and have not visited the Stowe Mountain Golf Club. In fact, I know very little about golf. To be honest with you, I had writer’s block today and came across this information quite by accident while researching topics for my post du jour. In that instant, I realized how easy it is to be so very unfamiliar with our own surroundings. I also realized how much what goes on behind the scenes matters.

The golf course is a good representation of a vast terrain that appears uniform on the surface but offers unimaginable challenge every inch of the way. The golf course is the final product. It is different things to different people. Its magnitude seems to surpass its borders once we consider all that is required to create such a perfectly engineered terrain.

To the golfer, the course is a challenge; perhaps also a place of great beauty that leads to “walking meditation”. To the photographer, it is an intricate choreography of foreground, middle-ground, background, light, shadow and color. To the vacationer, it is a mesmerizing expanse and mind boggling game of precision. To the engineer, a graceful expression of the mastery of the elements. What occurs behind the scenes is nothing short of remarkable.

First, someone must have a vision. More than this, someone must have the ability to envision the course before it exists. This requires a sort of sixth sense; an ability to understand the topography of the land even as it is hidden by vegetation and obstacles of all sorts. Then, the proper team of dreamers, thinkers and engineers must be assembled. I imagine the brainstorming and planning process goes on for months.

What is remarkable is that in spite of all delays, obstacles, constraints, paperwork and negotiations, entrepreneurs who could otherwise act on self-interest alone choose to go the extra step to harmonize their project with today’s values. “It’s especially rare that an 18-hole, par 72-layout can challenge every level of player but remain friendly to the environment,” writes Stowe Mountain Lodge on their website. “Such is the case at the Stowe Mountain Golf Club course – 6,400 environmentally respectful yards, now Vermont’s first Audubon International signature sanctuary, and one of Golf Magazine’s “Top Ten New Courses.”

The use of the word “stewardship”, in the Audubon description of the Signature program, is right on target. Like the long, gravity defying drive, stewardship is intentional and calculated. Stewardship is also a choice. It is a decision to base personal and commercial actions in a strong commitment to the well-being of the community.

This reveals a sense of responsibility that reaches far beyond the Stowe Mountain Lodge’s property and it is an example of the community-inclusive business consciousness that is common practice in this, and other parts of Vermont.

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