Golf and green: The Dow Championship's dual legacy

The Dow Championship returns this week from June 27-30 for its fifth year at the Midland Country Club. Recognized as the first-ever GEO Certified® LPGA event in 2019, the championship has set a global benchmark for environmental stewardship in golf. This year, the event continues to lead with innovative sustainability initiatives.

One Last Shot Program
The Dow Championship collaborates with First Tee - Eastern Michigan to offer "One Last Shot," allowing underprivileged individuals to benefit from donated youth golf apparel and equipment. The tournament engaged over 1,100 volunteers who contributed gently used polos, hats, golf shoes, and other sports gear.

Monarch Butterfly Conservation
2021 saw the Dow Championship collaborate with local conservation organizations and the Midland Country Club to install butterfly bushes at each tee box on the golf course. The bushes were later donated to the City of Midland and now have a permanent home, including a butterfly garden along Highway US-10.

This spring, Currie Golf Course established a Monarch Waystation to supply Monarch Butterflies with milkweed and other nectar plants, supporting them during their migrations and encouraging future generations.

Water Refill Stations
To reduce plastic waste, the tournament installed two refillable water stations at Midland Country Club in 2023 and added two more this year. The stations provide safe water sources for golfers and spectators year-round to minimize the impact of single-use plastic bottles.

Food Donations
This year, Hidden Harvest and Regrow Together are teaming up with the championship to reduce food waste and provide free meals for the community.

Each day of the event, Hidden Harvest will move extra food from hospitality areas to local teaching kitchens, such as Good Kitchen. Phoenix Community Farm will then pair fresh ingredients to help create and distribute meals to those in need.

Recycled Materials
The tournament emphasizes recycling, with waste stations for compost and recyclables throughout the course. Partnerships with Schupan, KW Plastics, Evolve Golf, and Core Technology Molding ensure materials like mesh are repurposed into golf tees and other items.

Volunteers called the “Green Team” also educate attendees about sustainable practices at sporting events and everyday life. In 2023, they expanded their efforts to include sorting waste behind the scenes to further the tournament's zero-waste goals.

Step Up Fitness Challenge
In partnership with MyMichigan Health, the tournament encourages spectators to track their steps, promoting physical activity while enjoying the event. This initiative has seen increasing participation each year, highlighting the community's enthusiasm for health and fitness.

Carbon Emissions Reduction
Since its first year, the Dow Championship has urged people to carpool, bike, or walk to the event to minimize its environmental impact. The tournament has also prioritized local sourcing to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.

In 2021, all tournament emissions were offset. Carbon credits were obtained from the Natural Capital Exchange, which helps landowners in rural communities protect their forest lands. The credits supported 229 landowners and maintained trees on 269,000 acres in Michigan and other Great Lake states.

In 2023, the Midland Country Club added an electric vehicle charger to promote the use of electric vehicles in the community. The tournament also teamed up with Bird scooters for attendees to use throughout the week. 

Reused Materials
Over the years, the tournament has reused materials such as wood pallets, signage posts, caddie bibs, and staff uniforms. Most of the signage has been preserved since 2019, and additional materials, like carpeting given to Habitat for Humanity, are contributed to local organizations for reuse.

In 2023, they teamed up with GotSneakers to recycle used shoes. They collected 100 pairs of sneakers, keeping over 131 pounds of waste from landfills.

Community Impact
Since it began, Dow Championship has donated more than $1 million to local charities and organizations. Partnering with over 250 local companies and suppliers, the tournament has brought an estimated $25 million in economic impact to the Great Lakes Bay Region. Beyond the competition, the event features various activities to engage the community, including the Eat Great Trail, an onsite STEM Center for kids and families, and a youth golf clinic.

As the 2024 tournament unfolds this week at Midland Country Club, teams are competing for a share of the $3 million purse. The 72-hole stroke play format includes alternating foursomes (alternate shot) and four-ball (best ball), promising exciting moments for golf enthusiasts.

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Read more articles by Misty Barron.

Misty Barron is a Mid-Michigan native who has proudly called Midland her home for the past six years. She served as Editor-in-Chief for the Delta Collegiate, where she earned various awards for her writing, including Journalist of the Year in 2023 from the Michigan Community College Press Association. In her free time, Misty enjoys spending time with family and friends and enjoying all our beautiful state has to offer.