The game of golf brings people of all ages and skill levels together. It is also a great sport to involve the whole family. According to the National Golf Foundation, nearly 63 percent of families have golfed together in the past year. Dow’s Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Mary Draves, enjoys teeing it up alongside her son. She has also learned some valuable lessons as a former parent of a high school golfer and enjoying the game herself.

Draves’ son David played on his high school’s varsity golf team. Watching him play gave Draves a whole new perspective of how to approach the game of golf. During his time on the team, Draves said she watched her son’s maturity grow as he developed a deeper appreciation for the finer points of the game.

“My son, David, wasn’t worried about driving down his score, but he really wanted to be a student of the game,” Draves said. “He had a very high standard for his teammates as a result of playing golf. It was important for David to not only have a high caliber golf game, but also to have a high caliber character. For me, that’s how I approach the game as well. When we go out and golf together, that is the expectation that he has.”

Draves advises parents to be patient if they have a child who is interested in hitting the links. She said that golf is not a game that comes naturally to a lot of people and you have to work at it. When her son began to play golf, Draves said they invested in decent golf equipment and enrolled her son in golf lessons so he could develop good habits. She also advised parents to be prepared for highs and lows that golf brings.

“I would say you have to listen and support through everything,” Draves said. “[During his time on the golf team], David had an underclassman teammate who beat him by one stroke to take the last spot on the regional team. Those were rough days, but he learned a lot.”

In addition to making memories on the golf course with her son, Draves has had memorable moments on the course herself. During the 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Draves was invited to play in the Pro-Am. Draves and her three colleagues were able to play alongside LPGA professionals Megan Khang and Annie Park during their Pro-Am round. Her son’s high school teammates even caddied for their foursome.

“I had one really exciting moment during my round where I hit a very long putt on the second or third hole,” Draves said. “I was so excited. The caddies were amazing and the pros were just unbelievable. The professional caddies shared a lot about the game and how they live. We got the sneak peek into professional sports which I thought was great.”

Draves was also proud of the Dow GLBI for being named a GEO Certified® Tournament. The LPGA team event was the first-ever professional golf tournament to receive this recognition during its first year of operation and the first event on the LPGA Tour to be fully certified. Draves said the team executed a five-year sustainability strategy that was designed for the tournament to balance the environmental impact, conserve natural resources and benefit the local community. Almost 68 percent of the waste generated from the tournament was recycled or reused. The Dow GLBI even donated 1,000 pounds of unused food to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

“When we first started talking about [the GEO certification], it 100 percent aligned where Dow was from a sustainability perspective,” Draves said. “It was an exciting start for us to be the first GEO Certified® women’s golf event in the world. We believe we have the responsibility to continue that sustainability leadership forward to other LPGA Tour events.”

In addition to bringing sustainability to professional events, golf courses around the country are integrating sustainability methods in their golf course preservation. Draves said that course sustainability is all about awareness. She said golf courses should be thinking about how they are operating and make conscious decisions based on improving sustainability.

“There are courses that are using biosolids for fertilizer,” Draves said. “There is also a lot of opportunity on how we manage our golf course landscaping and water movement. It’s all really about being curious, asking questions and trying to see what works [from a sustainability perspective].”

Female golfers can also help drive more sustainability practices to the game.

“As an adult, I’ve talked to many of my friends and golf can be intimidating for some,” Draves said. “However, in order to build a more sustainable future, it helps if we have good role models. Women are also a little bit more passionate about the environment and have a strong tie with golf.”