Reader Profile: Anthony Williams

July 24, 2014

Although the golf industry uses relatively little US fresh water through irrigation–by some estimates, 1.5%–there are those endeavoring to further reduce those numbers. One such person is Anthony Williams, director of grounds for the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort/Stone Mountain Golf Club in Georgia. Williams has earned the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) 2014 Excellence in Government Relations award for his work with Georgia water issues, where the pendulum has swung from a 2007 Level 4 drought, to a 500-year flood in 2009. In 2010, he received the GCSAA President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship. Williams shares his knowledge through his book, Environmental Stewardship Toolkit: How to Build, Implement and Maintain an Environmental Plan for Grounds and Golf Courses. He has incorporated smart water technology on his golf course, as well as aeration and fertilization practices, and the establishment of optimum plant fertility for healthier plants to use less water. Waterless urinals are also used in the golf shop.

What He Does Day to Day
Water conservation and management is the cornerstone of William’s golf course superintendent work. “Golf is played on a wonderful green space. The overall health of our course is measured many times through water quality and water resource management,” he points out. “We have vegetative buffers surrounding our water features. Standing erosion control policies help guard the water quality as it passes through our property. The value of turf and native plants as a filter for water is well documented. All of our irrigation water is captured through master planned ponds and lakes on the property by permit from the state of Georgia and pumped by a state-of-the-art Watertronics pump station and controlled and monitored in the field by a Rain Bird central irrigation computer, heads, and controllers.”

The golf club has a detailed set of water conservation Best Management Practices on file with state authorities. Stone Mountain Golf Club is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for golf courses. Frequent water tests ensure programs are functioning at the highest level. Water conservation does not detract from the game. “Our courses offer one-of-a-kind golf experiences backdropped by amazing water features and wildlife,” says Williams.

What Led Him Into This Line of Work
Williams grew up on a small rural Georgia farm, active in the Future Farmers of America during high school. He studied horticulture and environmental stewardship at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. A professor suggested taking a job offer in the golf and hotel industry might be a good fit. “It turns out he was right,” says Williams, who has 28 years in managing grounds for Marriott International resort and golf properties. “My job allows me to work on these amazing green spaces and blend environmental and economic stewardship. My dad taught me that if you take care of the land and water, then the land will take care of you.”

What He Likes About His Work
Williams likes watching the seasons change and the property mature and develop. “I like the outdoors and the sights I have seen such as fledgling owls; hawks; herons; deer; coyote; eagles; salamanders; turtles; fish of all shapes and sizes; and a rainbow of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that remind me of how my job reaches from heaven to earth and all the things within them,” he says. “I have managed our property through the effects of severe droughts, tornados, lightning, tropical storms, blizzards, ice storms, and epic floods. I have watched Mother Nature show amazing resilience and have learned through science, research, and good old-fashioned hard work that you can craft a profitable business that lives in harmony with a world-class green space. My office is more than 3,200 acres of millions of natural miracles all helping each other reach what we call “˜sustainability.'”

His Biggest Challenge
Covering so many acres, acre-feet, projects, and programs with a limited staff is Williams’ biggest challenge and part of the “new normal” for most businesses to do more with less. “We remain committed to our core programs and processes, but there is no doubt we have to keep finding better synergy year to year in order to keep the bar raised,” he says.

About the Author

Carol Brzozowski

Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to resource management and technology.

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