The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has transitioned all of its 650 golf carts at nine Tennessee State Park courses from gasoline to electric. The agency anticipates $80,000 in annual savings, the reduction of 350,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions per year, and an enhanced golfing experience due to noise reductions.
The state first acquired 222 battery-electric golf carts for three of its golf courses in 1996. It exchanged a batch of 218 gasoline-powered golf carts for electric models in 2014. In 2017, the remaining 210 gasoline carts were swapped for electric.
“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.
In addition, Harrison Bay State Park near Chattanooga has swapped gasoline-powered maintenance equipment for electric where possible. 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.
The golf cart fleet is not the only way Tennessee State Park golf courses implement sustainable initiatives. 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.