Can a golf course exist in harmony with its natural surroundings? At Pasatiempo, we believe that a golf course that acts responsibly can actually improve the environment. By providing green, open spaces in a residential area for wildlife and making extra efforts to preserve the habitat for wildlife. By providing a place for golfers of all ages to walk and enjoy nature — Pasatiempo is a fabulous course to walk, and the majority of golfers at Pasatiempo walk the course, taking advantage of our temperate climate and gently rolling terrain. And by maintaining the course with an awareness that we aren’t simply running a golf course, we’re a steward for the land that we work and play on here every day.

We’re proud of our certification from Audubon International as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, an achievement we obtained in 2002.This certification means that Audubon International has reviewed our Site Assessment and Environmental Plan, and found that our course meets environmental management standards in the areas of:

  • Wildlife and Habitat Management
  • Chemical Use Reduction and Safety
  • Water Conservation
  • Water Quality Management
  • Outreach and Education

Over the years there have been various approaches to control the weeds and overgrowth in the canyons and barancas. None of the approaches has been as efficient and green as the 175 goats we brought on to our property in the fall of 2010. As we look to restore the look more common during the MacKenzie era, one of the features that has been lost is the stunning, rugged definition of the canyons. Throughout the years, the steep, jagged edges have all been covered up by extensive overgrowth. Introducing the goats into the canyons began the extensive cleanup. There is a long list of benefits with regard to using goats instead of manual labor. Some of these include: 

  • Significantly cheaper than using manual labor to clear out the barancas 
  • Reduces the need for spraying harmful chemicals 
  • No heavy equipment damage or noise 
  • Goats can easily traverse steep, rocky and difficult terrain 
  • Goats break down and "recycle" plant material, whereas our crew would still have to drag it out and chip it 
  • They are very quiet cleaners and amazing progress was seen week 

Nor have our efforts stopped simply at becoming certified. Our current projects include: 

  • A cooperative effort with Scotts Valley and the City of Santa Cruz to build the infrastructure that would give Pasatiempo access to recycled water for course irrigation, thus reducing the demand for precious potable water during the summer months. Pasatiempo is already implementing a plan to voluntarily reduce water usage by 10% in 2008, which has provided firmer fairways consistent with the course’s original links style. Click here to see the signed Memorandum of Understanding between Scotts Valley and Pasatiempo regarding the recycled water project. (PDF)
  • An expansion of our native grass edges along roads and rough areas to conserve water and provide a natural buffer between playable and non-playable areas. This not only conserves water, but provides needed protection for wildlife. We are also attempting to rid our canyons of exotic invasive species like Pampas Grass and Ivy, replacing them with natives like Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), We also have a program run by an volunteer to plant and maintain the native species California Dutchmans Pipe Vine (Aristolochia californica) which is a host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail.
  • The maintenance of "no spray zones" around our seasonal creeks and testing the water in these creeks every year. Over the last 10 years, the quality of the water leaving the course has been consistently cleaner. 
  • The application of organic fertilizers to the fairways, greens and rough, using 100% natural ingredients comprised of bone, blood meal, feathers, food compost, and manures. We also use biostimulants and amino acids to help turfgrass withstand stress and fight off disease. This process greatly reduces the use of heavy metal fungicides. So far, there have been three (3) fewer fungicide applications in 2008 versus the same time frame in 2007. 
  • The maintenance of 57 Nest Boxes on the course, which fledged 157 birds in the spring of 2007. 

Learn more about the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for golf courses by visiting: 


Learn firsthand about local birds and see for yourself what Pasatiempo is doing for wildlife by participating in our annual Bird Walk. Contact Justin Mandon for more information.