Brianne Kenny: nature and ecology

Game Changers
Brianne Kenny

"What she’s been able to do is bringing a group of non-golfers to the golf course who had a negative perception about golf and flipped it on its head."

Troon Manager of Environmental Science, Brianne Kenny, has turned heads since her appointment before the Coronavirus pandemic.

Troon Vice President of Science and Agronomy Brian Hampson’s quote above is one such example, while Kenny describes herself as "a biologist who once strayed onto a golf course & has been interested in them ever since."

Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Kenny’s work centers on three main areas – ensuring governmental compliance, liaising with the government in support of the industry and working with courses to achieve environmental certifications.

And as well as flying the flag for women in golf, she’s countering negative press about the game's environmental credentials too.

"Studies are showing that golf courses can actually support a greater diversity and greater number of bird species than other types of green spaces (like parks or cemeteries), especially related to cities," Kenny said in an interview published on the National Golf Foundation in 2019. 

"Even the water bodies on courses are important. At Powder Horn (in Wyoming), a creek running through the course ended up having one third of the state’s bird species visiting because having a riparian area is very important to attract birds. 

"I led three bird-watching walks there for both members and local residents. They had no idea how many birds were on the property, and that the course was such a good habitat."

Kenny's social media is awash with images of birds on golf courses - she visited Hawaii for the Sentry Tournament of Champions to start 2022 - and even more recently she interacted with non-golfers on her doorstep in Arizona. 

"Thank you to the Phoenix area golf courses that participated in the AZ Game & Fish Urban Waterbird Survey today!" Kenny wrote on Twitter in January. 

"It's a great opportunity to engage w/ non-golfers & contributes valuable information. I see an impact just with my subsection so keep it up!"

After Kenny volunteered at the US Women's Open in San Francisco last June, she wrote on Instagram about all the species of birds she'd managed to spot while out on the Olympic Club course.

"I could have had more if I went birdwatching on all the breaks but there were so many other things to do so I just took what I could get."

The California scrub-jay, Allen's hummingbird, song sparrow, Nuttall's woodpecker and chestnut-backed chickadee were just some of the species.