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Justin Timberlake Wins Green Award With Native-Themed Golf Course


At the Environmental Media Association's 21st annual Environmental Media Awards, held October 15, Actor and singer Justin Timberlake received the EMA Futures Award for his Mirimichi golf course, located near his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Timberlake, who initially rose to fame as a member of boy band *NSync and then as a solo artist and has starred in such films as The Social Network and the upcoming thriller In Time, has made occasional comments about his likely Native ancestry. In an article at he is quoted as saying: "I've had my genealogy studied and I want to say that I am of British descent. ... There was a British lad who was in a war, not sure which war, but he ran away from the war because he fell in love with an Indian girl, and that's where my family tree started."

On its website, Thompson, the firm that helped develop the brand for the course, specifically identifies Timberlake's ancestral tribe and explains the course's name. "Justin is part Cherokee Indian," it reads, "We discovered the word mirimichi by searching old Indian names. Mirimichi happens to mean, 'Place of happy retreat.'"

The course's logo is an arrowhead, and its holes are given Cherokee names: #2 is Gada-ama ("Muddy Water"), #9 is Egategawi ("Sunset"), #10 is Inadu ("Snake").

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The 17th hole at Justin Timberlake's Mirimichi golf course

The course is actually one Timberlake has known all his life; previously known as Big Creek Golf Course, it's where he learned golf as a young boy. Mirimichi, like Big Creek before it, is a public course.

"My idea came out of the desire to create green space in the community where I grew up," he said at the EMA Awards ceremony. "When, to borrow a phrase from Joni Mitchell, I heard that somebody was going to take paradise and put up a parking lot, I decided to buy paradise myself. We made a commitment to building a sustainable model for a golf course and we honor the land and the ecosystem that Mirimichi shares with nature."

Golf courses are sometimes frowned upon by environmentalists for the water necessary to maintain them, but Mirimichi has taken steps to recycle as much of its own water as possible. Though the course spans 300 acres, less than 90 of them are manicured; the rest are left largely as mother nature would have them. Mirimichi is an Audubon Classic Sanctuary and is GEO certified by the Golf Environmental Organization. It has been chosen for a Tennessee Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award and was named "Greenest Golf Course" by the website

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