TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has officially transitioned all of its 650 golf carts at the nine Tennessee State Park courses from gasoline to electric.
The switch will result in an estimated savings of $80,000 per year, prevent the release of approximately 350,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year and enhance the golfing experience by reducing the noise associated with gas-powered carts.
“The environmental and cost savings resulting from the transition to electric golf carts demonstrate that recreational activities can play an important role in protecting Tennessee’s air quality, using state resources efficiently, and improving the customer experience,” said Kendra Abkowitz, TDEC assistant commissioner of the Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices.
Harrison Bay State Park near Chattanooga has gone one step further – gas-powered maintenance equipment has been swapped for electric where possible, excluding only the two large fairway and rough units, making it one of the only golf courses in the country to do so.
“The drive for this transition came from TDEC’s mission to protect the environment, a duty to the Tennessee taxpayer to save money, and a desire to create the best possible playing environment for our golfers,” said Mike Nixon, director of Tennessee State Parks golf operations.
The first batch of 218 gas-powered golf carts was exchanged for all-electric models at courses within Henry Horton (20 miles southeast from Spring Hill), Montgomery Bell (31.5 miles west of Brentwood), and Fall Creek Falls State Parks (105 miles east of Franklin) in 2014. In 2017, the remaining 210 gas-powered carts in the state’s fleet were swapped for electric at Pickwick Landing, Paris Landing and Warriors’ Path State Parks.
The first 222 electric carts used at state courses were originally procured in 1996 for use at Harrison Bay, Cumberland Mountain and Tims Ford State Parks.
Funding for the all-electric maintenance equipment at Harrison Bay was made possible by a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant through the Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices. The 18-piece fleet includes greens and approach mowers, bunker rakes, greens rollers and utility vehicles.
Sustainable initiatives are ingrained in how Tennessee State Park golf courses operate. State courses utilize progressive turf practices – including planting of native grasses that require less watering and fertilizer, and are wildlife-friendly. Harrison Bay features a bald eagle’s nest with a live camera so viewers anywhere in the world can peek inside the home the creatures have made.
Tennessee State Parks golf courses have combined the beautiful scenery of the state with the talent of outstanding course designers like Jack Nicklaus and Joe Lee to create the Tennessee Golf Trail. For more information, visit https://tnstateparks.com/golf.