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Going Beyond the Greens: Golf Course Superintendent Jared Nemitz on Conservation Efforts at The Ford

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Through careful planning, wildlife and habitat management, water conservation and education, The Ford has earned Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Certification — an acclaimed recognition for environmental achievements and leadership around the world. And the mindful maintenance of our Pete Dye Championship Golf Course has played a major role in this certification. We sat down with The Ford’s golf course superintendent Jared Nemitz to learn how the award-winning course is setting a new standard for environmental conservation and protection. 

 

What are some ways in which The Ford addresses golf course maintenance while keeping water and environmental conservation top of mind?

Water and environmental stewardship is always at the top of our decision-making process on our agronomy and grounds maintenance teams. This goes hand-in-hand with creating firm and fast playing surfaces for the golfer. At the end of the day, less water means more ball roll and more fun for the golfer.

We also reduce irrigation inputs by using state-of-the-art technologies from hand-held moisture meters, in-ground soil sensors to test volumetric water content and a broad range of irrigation heads so that water is put only where it’s truly needed for plant health and playability.

Additionally, all of the chemicals used to maintain water at The Ford, including on the golf course, have been supervised in an entirely different, conscious way. We pride ourselves on being water-sympathetic and are constantly checking up on its integrity with regard to the pH and dissolved oxygen levels. This awareness has really set us apart. 

Our team also strives to educate members on how they can help by using the correct fertilizers and maintaining their property with the same goals as the golf course.

What is The Ford’s Greens & Grounds Committee and when was it formed? 

Our current Greens & Grounds Committee was formed in 2008 with the purpose of renovating the golf course to make it “available” to all members, meaning it could be used as a green space, too. Momentum began to build and brought our environment to the forefront with this renovation. 

We created bird boxes and bat boxes and launched the Monarchs in the Rough program to support our native butterflies. We also began working with First Tee Education, a youth golf program that focuses on raising children’s activity levels and self confidence, and Operation Pollinator, which helps restore pollinators in golf courses and other landscapes to enhance environmental balance. We’re also doing extensive lake management to ensure a healthy habitat for fish and recreational use for our members. 

What would you say are the Committee’s primary goals for the golf course?

We want to ensure that our golf course is a premier, high-end facility that’s part of the natural habitat at The Ford — not a separate entity. 

Are there any environmental initiatives on the horizon for the golf course and grounds? 

We plan to continue building on our environmental programs with First Tee Education and a primary school field trip. We also hope to increase the footprint of our Monarchs in the Rough program and increase our pollinator plots around the property and golf course.

The Ford has achieved many remarkable milestones in terms of environmental conservation. What are you most proud of?

I would say I’m most proud of The Ford being initiated into the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. This was a team effort between The Ford, the Greens & Grounds Committee and both the golf course and grounds maintenance teams. The program highlights that our wildlife and habitat management is of primary importance to our members and staff, and it feels good to be recognized for our efforts. 

 

Learn more about The Ford’s conservation efforts here.

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Ladies Hit the Links at The Ford

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Ladies hit the links at The Ford

Whether you’re a novice golfer or a putting and pitching pro, there are plenty of opportunities for the ladies of The Ford to tee off together. With weekly clinics and special events throughout the year, our members love spending time on the beautiful grounds of our Audubon Certified and multi-award winning golf course.

The Ford course feature the long, scenic views that are one of designer Pete Dye’s signatures. Built with member play in mind, the course is a joy to play for the average golfer—and ladies will appreciate the attention given to the placement of the women’s tees, which will typically eliminate the need to worry about water or larger hazards. This, too, is often the case with Pete Dye courses, as Mrs. Dye was herself an avid golfer and greatly influenced the way Mr. Dye’s designs played for female players. Here’s what’s happening for ladies on the links in 2021:

Golf Clinics

Every Wednesday during the season (October through May), the golf practice facilities are a teaching center and feature a clinic for women starting at 3 pm. 

Girls on the Green 

For those ladies who are new to the sport or simply want a laid-back, no-pressure golfing experience, we offer Girls on the Green (known around the Club as GONG). This member-led program currently includes more than 50 Ford ladies who get together to enjoy special golf experiences, including beginner clinics, the cocktail-friendly Sip and Chip, golf poker, and golf bingo. There’s even a nighttime glow ball event coming up this April. Whether you’re there for the socializing or to up your game, Girls on the Green takes the intimidation factor out of the game and keeps this Club tradition fun and light for our members.

Ladies Play with a Pro Day

On the second Tuesday of every month, the Golf Club hosts “Ladies Play with a Pro Day.” All skill levels are welcome, and you’ll have the option to play either nine or 18 holes. We meet on the range at 9:30 am for a free 30-minute golf clinic, where members will be grouped together with fellow Ford ladies and a pro. Following the clinic, each group will tee off the first hole at 10:00 am from the ladies tees with the expertise of our pros to guide them along the way.

Nine & Dine date night

This competition brings together two of Ford’s most-loved amenities: nine holes of golf followed by world-class cuisine at the Clubhouse. On select Friday afternoons, a 4 pm shotgun start will kick off this mixed couple’s tournament. Couples will be paired to create foursomes and play a scramble format round, where the best shot of the foursome wins on each play. The fun and easy format allows golfers of all skill levels to compete! Pros will be out on the golf course assisting groups, and we will also have a few other contests on the golf course. After nine fun-filled holes, players return to the Clubhouse for a prix fixe dinner menu prepared by our renowned chef. Nine & Dine makes for a perfect date night.

Ladies Member Guest

Usually held in November, our popular Ladies Member-Guest tournament is the premier ladies’ golf event at The Ford. This year, the tournament will be held in March, with a shotgun start at 9 am on Wednesday the 24th and Thursday the 25th. There is also an optional practice round the Tuesday prior, beginning at 9 am on March 23rd

Ford ladies have the opportunity to invite a guest to comprise a team of two for a two-day net eclectic format tournament. Competitors will keep their best net score for the team for day one. If they have a better score on a hole the second day, they count the second day’s net score. Players can only better their day one score! 

 

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The Ford’s Annual Hook & Slice Tournament

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Golfers and anglers enjoy the best of both worlds at The Ford’s annual Hook & Slice Tournament.

Join us on Friday, April 23, 2021

Just in time for spring, The Ford is proud to present its annual Hook & Slice® Tournament, a popular team event that combines fishing and golfing skills into one heated competition on Pete Dye’s “finest Southern links.” Put on by the Outdoor Pursuits team at Ford, this tournament is a Club favorite. It brings together two of the community’s most coveted amenities: world-class golf and the thrill of Lowcountry angling in one of the region’s most beautiful coastal settings. 

Not only is our renowned golf course no stranger to accolades – including being named one of GOLF Magazine’s best courses in Georgia for 2021 – but Dye’s signature fairways are flexible for all levels of play and feature scenic water hazards that serve double duty in this unique tournament. Whether you’re in it for the beautiful scenery of our Audubon Certified course, the thrill of the catch, or the experience of playing nine holes like never before, this tournament is for you. 

Golf and fishing in one tournament: How does it work?

The annual Hook & Slice tournament takes place on the front nine of The Ford golf course, which features easily accessible lakes on nearly every hole. While half of your foursome is hitting the links, the other half will be casting a line in hopes of reeling in additional points for your team. 

Each team of four will have 25 minutes per hole to fish and golf, with five minutes between holes to retie lures and work on their team strategy for the next hole. A judge will accompany each team to award points based on golf scores and fishing achievements, including successful catches, type of species caught, fish size, fishing methods, and style points.

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GOLF Magazine Names The Ford Field & River Club One of Georgia’s Best Golf Courses

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Pete Dye’s Richmond Hill golf course ranked in the company of Augusta National

In a year when a day of golf has been one of the few safe respites from quarantine, The Ford Field & River Club, home to the golf course Pete Dye proudly proclaimed to be his “finest Southern links,” has been named one of GOLF Magazine’s top courses in Georgia in its 2020 – 2021 bi-annual rankings. Of 416 courses in Georgia, The Ford Field & River Club was ranked the 15th  best course in the state, alongside prestigious companies including the world-famous Augusta National.

Accolades for golfing at The Ford Field & River Club 

In 2014, The Ford Field & River Club Golf Course underwent a $7.5 million renovation with Pete Dye’s direct involvement and has since received numerous accolades and continuous high praise from renowned golf publications and club associations, including the following:

  • “Best Modern Courses (1960–present),” Golfweek
  • “Best Golf Courses in Georgia,” Golf Digest
  • “Top 100 Residential Courses,” Golfweek
  • The Host of the Georgia PGA Open
  • Golfweek’s Best 2021: Top 200 Residential Golf Courses in the U.S.

Additionally, The Ford Field & River Club received certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP). This international program is administered by Audubon International and is designed to help landowners preserve and enhance the environmental quality of their property. 

How GOLF ranks the best courses in America

According to GOLF, the ranking process is as follows: For the newly released 2020-21 U.S. list, panelists were provided a list of 489 courses across the country. Next to that list of courses were 11 “buckets,” or groupings. If panelists considered a course to be among the top three in the country, they ticked that box. If they believed the course to be among Nos. 4-10 in the U.S., they checked that box, followed by 11-25, 26-50, and so on. Panelists were also free to write in courses that they felt should have been included on the ballot (fewer than a handful of such additions in the U.S. vote).

Points were assigned to each bucket to arrive at an average score for each course. Then, each course’s aggregate score was divided by the number of votes. From those point tallies, the courses were then ranked accordingly. The process is an intentionally simple and straightforward one. Why? Because it invariably produces results that are widely lauded. Like the game itself, GOLF believes there’s no need to unnecessarily overcomplicate things.

What makes The Ford Field & River Club Golf Course so special?

The Ford Field & River Club Golf Course is well-known for Pete Dye’s signature long, scenic views and flexible play for golfers of all levels. The course was built with member play in mind, making it a joy to play for average and experienced golfers alike. Ladies will appreciate the attention given to the placement of the women’s tees, which typically eliminate the need to carry water or larger hazards. This, too, is often the case with Pete Dye courses, as Mrs. Dye was herself an avid golfer and greatly influenced the way Mr. Dye’s designs played for female players. And best of all, Ford members never need a tee time to hit the links.

This is not to say that The Ford Field & River Club Golf Course is without its challenges. On the contrary, each hole sports seven sets of tees: Black, Gold, Blue, Modified, White, Red, and even Family Tees which can make the course play anywhere from 7,443 yards from the Black to 5,002 yards from the Reds. The placement of each tee box adds both distance and difficulty to each hole, often bringing additional hazards into play.

GOLF is the definitive voice of the sport on and off the course, dedicated to enhancing every golfer’s enjoyment of the game – making this award a true honor for The Ford Field & River Club.

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