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Wild Laurel Golf Course in Smokies achieves Audubon certification

June 16, 2022

Wild Laurel Golf Course in East Tennessee has been designated a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” by Audubon International for its dedication to environmental excellence on the 18-hole track in Townsend known for its stunning mountain views.

“Wild Laurel Golf Course has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program,” said Christine Kane, CEO at Audubon International. “The owners and management team are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property.”

While playing the Wild Laurel par-70 course, golfers can observe wildlife ranging from deer to wild turkey to bears.

“We are located in the middle of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains, and we felt an obligation to make sure our footprint was as environmentally sound and sustainable as possible,” Wild Laurel President John Trotter said. “We are immensely proud of all the hard work we have accomplished in order to receive this designation.”

To be certified by Audubon, a course must demonstrate that it maintains a high level of environmental quality in several areas, Kane said, including environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management.

Wild Laurel has worked diligently to:

  • Preserve natural areas.
  • Provide excellent wildlife habitat.
  • Create new landscape areas.
  • Remove invasive species.
  • Establish buffers around water bodies.
  • Reduce irrigated areas to conserve water.
  • Test to ensure water leaving the course has the same quality as when it arrived.

Nestled in a valley surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, Wild Laurel is open to the public and a short drive from Knoxville and the tourist destinations of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The popular Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is right across Rich Mountain from the course. The views from the clubhouse down Laurel Valley are spectacular.

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, endorsed by the United States Golf Association (USGA), provides information and guidance to help golf courses preserve and enhance wildlife habitat and protect natural resources. Wild Laurel is one of more than 900 courses worldwide (out of more than 38,000) to receive certification and the 10th in Tennessee. Audubon International is a nonprofit with the purpose of delivering high-quality environmental education and facilitating the sustainable management of natural resources.

About Wild Laurel Golf Course
Wild Laurel Golf Course is nestled in a cozy valley of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee and invests in the region by using environmentally sound practices from greens upkeep to locally sourced tavern fare. Guests relish the extraordinary views and often leave with tales of wildlife sightings unique to the mountain ecosystem that Wild Laurel Golf Course protects and maintains. Wild Laurel Golf Club is proud to be Audubon International Certified by maintaining environmentally sound practices. Wild Laurel offers an 18-hole, par 70, golf course and has a tavern with a full bar, café and catering menus offering seasonal fare. For more information, visit