Author – Jordan Fuller
Golf courses are often beautiful scenes, surrounded by nature. They’re green, pretty, and natural. But there’s a big downside to these beautiful, natural spaces – they’re responsible for a huge amount of water consumption.
Whether they’re located in a lush, wet area or a dry, arid climate, golf courses are extremely thirsty. To keep that stunning green grass healthy and pretty, they need daily irrigation across a large area.
But can golf courses be eco-friendly even with their large water needs?
What Makes Golf Courses Eco-Friendly?
With a bit of work, yes. Golf courses are starting to lean more towards environmentally-friendly practices, which can have a significant impact considering the amount of space a golf course takes up. Here’s how golf courses can be eco-friendly.
Choice of Grass
Golf courses are made up of pristine fairways and greens. That’s a lot of grass. While it looks amazing, grass requires a lot of water to stay in such a beautiful condition.
Although the amount of water needed varies according to a lot of factors, research by the United States Golf Association showed that the average water use for irrigating 1.5 million acres of golf courses across the USA is around 2 billion liters per day.
That’s just irrigation – it doesn’t include other water usages on the courses. Even when you split that between the many golf courses in the country, that’s a huge water loss each day.
Golf courses are spread across vast areas and the majority of the locations are exposed to extreme sunlight. So it is crucial to find the best grass to lay on a golf course. Switching to a less thirsty type of grass can have a huge positive effect. Paspalum grass, buffalograss, bermudagrass, and artificial turf for greens are a few options.
Among these, Emerald Zoysia sod grass is considered the best option since it has the highest level of tolerance for heat and sunlight; even with the lowest quantity of water applied. Another good thing about Emerald Zoysia is its extremely low maintenance, since this sod grass has the ability to fight off any grass diseases.
Golf courses are also beginning to think twice about their irrigation systems. Eco-friendly irrigation systems can be installed that are expensive, but will certainly save money in the long run, as well as being good for the environment.
Other than choosing a more efficient irrigation system, many courses are beginning to implement water recycling. Using recycled water from suburbs would be an ideal solution. Collecting rainwater runoff and recycling it as irrigation water is a trend that’s taking off in parts of the world where rain is frequent. Whatever the irrigation system, strict water control measures should be implemented. These may include installing variable speed drive pumps to ensure that water use is controlled.
It’s not all about the water. Some of the latest initiatives taken by golf courses include golf carts with lithium-ion batteries, solar-powered golf carts, and reducing energy usage in high-maintenance areas of the course.
Sustainable Products & Packaging
Another excellent way to become more eco-friendly is to focus on sustainable products and packaging in the course’s pro shop. You can find eco-friendly golf balls, which are biodegradable and better for the environment.
Choosing to stock sustainable apparel can also be a big step towards becoming more sustainable as a golf club. Manufacturers of golf shoes, golf shirts, and even golf gloves have taken giant strides towards using sustainable materials in their products. Eco-friendly packaging is another easy step that can be taken. Paper bags instead of plastic is a simple solution that can easily be implemented without costing a lot.
Spotlight on Kodaikanal Golf Club
Kodaikanal Golf Club was established in 1895 by a few British golfers. It’s noted for its age, but in recent years, it’s come into the spotlight for a different reason. In 2004, the club began implementing biodynamic practices, including creating and using their own compost, using natural pesticides, and using their own home-grown Kentucky bluegrass on their greens. They’re also well-known for the wildlife that’s frequently spotted on the course.
In 2017, Kodaikanal Golf Club was named as India’s first certified organic golf course. Since then, more golf courses have achieved this distinction, but Kodaikanal was the first. The club is for private members only, which features an 18-hole course, driving range, and putting green, all lush and green. Other top-notch facilities include a conference area, members’ lounge, a bar and dining room, a billiards room, and a cards room. Accommodation is also available.
Can golf courses be eco-friendly? Yes, if they’re willing to put measures into place to improve sustainability, reduce waste, and lower water usage.
Given the current trend, sustainability isn’t going away any time soon. It’s truly in the best interests of golf clubs to begin taking steps towards being more environment-friendly and building eco-friendly golf courses.
Jordan Fuller is a golf expert who along with his partner runs Golf Influence, a website dedicated to sharing tips, advice, and product reviews for amateur to intermediate golfers.