Sunday, August 31, 2008

If golf ever needed a fresh-scrubbed face promising change, it has a candidate in Montgomery County Golf.

Unlike some politicians who campaign on a platform of reform and then fail to produce, MCG has delivered on its promise of change - and more is in the works.

Dovetailing an aggressive, multimillion-dollar upgrade and enhancement program at its five original courses, MCG is moving to seamlessly integrate its 2006 management agreement of four courses operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

With nine courses now in its fold, Montgomery County Golf, a division of the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, is fulfilling its promise to deliver high-quality courses and services at affordable prices. The results have been almost immediate. Two MCG courses, Little Bennett and Sligo Creek, received the National Golf Foundation´s 2007 Most Improved Customer Loyalty Award.

The NGF, which tracks golf industry business, trends and statistics and offers consulting services, made the awards based on high approval ratings from course customers and how likely they would be to recommend a course to a friend.

For MCG, the payoff is not only high customer service ratings, but increased rounds and revenues through repeat business and new golfers who allow MCG to achieve its mandate of providing self-sustaining courses for the public.

Hitting all sectors of the electorate, MCG also has a strong commitment to junior golf programs through on-site camps and clinics, educational programs, sponsorship of high school teams and participation in The First Tee Montgomery program.

Of course, these days no vote is secure without some semblance of being “green.” In May, MCG started using environmentally friendly, organic fertilizer at its golf courses.

The organic fertilizer is a novel approach to reducing or eliminating chemicals that have long been used to control weeds and enhance playing conditions at golf courses.

Called MicroSTART 60, the fertilizer is “pasteurized poultry manure” that comes from nearby chicken farms in Maryland and Delaware through a partnership between distributor Davisson Golf Inc. of Hanover, Md., and Perdue AgriRecycle in Delaware.

The mix gives soil the nitrogen it needs but also includes 10 other nutrients that are essential for healthy turf.

The idea for using organic fertilizer came from the revenue authority´s Jon Lobenstine, director of agronomy. Now there are eight fertilizer storage bins at nine of the MCG courses.

“The organic product is superior because the turf can more efficiently process the pasteurized poultry manure,” Lobenstine says. “And we get the added bonus of knowing we´re being more environmentally responsible.”

And that, my friends, is good politics.

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