While most of the sports world has been negatively impacted by the global pandemic, Golf is gaining popularity. Many people were looking for outdoor activities that were social-distance friendly, and as a result, golf courses are booming.
In 2020, over 24.8 million people played golf in the United States. However, keeping golf courses pristine is a behemoth task that may no longer be sustainable.
Why Are Golf Courses Not Sustainable?
You might think that a big green field of grass is great for the environment, and you’re not wrong. It actually has a lot of positives, like improving the quality of drinking water in the area. However, there is one serious problem.
Maintaining the golf course requires a ton of water. In fact, a ton wouldn’t even be enough.
For example, Salt Lake County in Utah is home to nearly 30 golf courses, and it takes 9 million gallons of water per day to keep the courses green. That’s not sustainable. And that’s because these golf courses shouldn’t exist in that environment.
Let’s face it, when you think of Utah, you probably think of sandy and rocky landscapes. Did you know that 33% of Utah is desert? And this isn’t a problem exclusive to Utah as golf courses are built in a ton of areas they shouldn’t be.
For example, courses in Florida have the opposite problem. They are prone to floods and in many cases, just 2-inches of rain can cause the course to close.
Overall, to cope with these environments, the courses use more resources to maintain them, which ultimately makes them unsustainable.
There Is An Easy Solution
While golf is synonymous with green grass, it doesn’t have to be.
For those unfamiliar with golf, the grass makes the game more score-friendly. It’s easier to play on soft grass vs in a desert or rocky environment for a variety of reasons. That’s why the most common hazard in golf is sand.
However, having more natural courses is an option, and it’s pretty simple, just let nature control the state of the course. The problem with this is that golf has built up that brand image as a high-end sport.
With that said, some courses already do this. For instance, in 2019, Tiger Woods famously played at Royal Melbourne in Australia. The course was rough due to using less water but ended up resulting in a more competitive game that players enjoyed.
Ultimately, golf courses do not need green grass, which could substantially lower the amount of water required to maintain them.
Some Courses Are Working to be Self-Suffcient
Many golf courses see the writing on the wall and are working to be more sustainable.
For example, Finland’s Hirsala Golf is using robotic mowers powered by electricity to maintain the course. They are basically like a Roomba, but for mowing. This will eliminate actual lawnmowers that use diesel fuel, thus cutting emissions.
Many other golf courses have tried adding solar panels to power their clubhouses. When you consider how large some of these courses are, they have plenty of room for pannels.
Golf is a popular sport that will not disappear, but we are likely to see many technological advancements that will change how courses are maintained.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.