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Alumnus tees up sustainability at local country club

Alumnus Mark Condon, third from left, manages the Red Rocks Country Club in Morrison, Colo. The club has instituted several sustainability initiatives during Condon's tenure. Here, Condon is pictured with chef Robert Meitzer, left of Condon, and Red Rocks club president Glen Zobcek, fourth from right, and his family at the club. Photo courtesy Mark Condon.

Mark Condon is focused on making putting greens even greener.

Condon (MA ’84) is the general manager of Red Rocks Country Club,  a private golf club located in Morrison, Colo., near the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. During Condon’s tenure, the club has incorporated many innovations in sustainability.

“It is a very different type of club that is more like a family resort and oasis,” Condon says. “The course is near the city, but it is still remote and feels like you are miles away.”

The club has two private lakes, gardens and 1,000 acres of private open space that attracts wildlife and provides members and guests with many outdoor activities not normally available at a golf course, such as hiking trails and areas for catch-and-release fishing.

When Condon took over, he looked into changing the course’s watering system along with superintendent Aaron Smith. Before, the course used a wall-to-wall system for watering, but Condon and Smith took a more native approach.

“We looked at our property here and saw this beautiful ranch country, and instead of a park we wanted it to look more native and work with the environment,” Condon says. “We restored native grasses, plants and gardens and reduced the acres that needed irrigation by 30 percent. Now you see grass and plants that take very little water.”

Condon worked with the club’s food and beverage director and executive chef, Robert Meitzer, to adopt a farm-to-table concept. The club funded an acre of land to develop a garden, and Condon and Meitzer planted a variety of produce including tomatoes, chilies, squash, beets and fruits in the spring. The club was recognized with the American Culinary Federation’s Achievement of Excellence Award this past summer. 

Linda Irwin, a club member since 1993, helped create the club’s strategic plan toward sustainability.

“The fuel for the initiative came from [Condon] and [Meitzer]; they championed it,” Irwin says. “The board and members were wholeheartedly behind this movement, but [they] deserve credit for building the concept and launching it, right down to weeding the garden.”

“As a general manager, [Condon] was able to get the approval for the whole project and did a great job lobbying for the funds to get it all built,” Meitzer says. “He has done a lot to get the club to the next level.”

Red Rocks also values the family experience. In order for the club to be marketable, Condon says, it has to appeal to the whole family, not just one person, which is why the club provides a full-family curriculum from junior golf programs to wedding ceremonies and banquets.

Condon graduated from DU with a master’s degree in sports science and started out working in the athletic department at the Denver Athletic Club.  There, he was encouraged to pursue management and eventually crossed over to become the food and beverage director, supplementing his degree from DU with a certification from the National Restaurant Association. He then got a job at Lakewood Country Club in Lakewood, Colo., where he also got some training at Disney University.

He later took a job at Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden, Colo., and moved to the golf side of the business. After another stop at the Denver Athletic Club, Condon o became the general manager at Red Rocks Country Club.

“We built the club on family values and culture to create a place where families feel welcome,” Condon says. “It is not your typical country club.”

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