Golf courses have been seen as environmental hazards but are now becoming “greener”, that is more environment-friendly. Since 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to find common ground between the golf industry and environmentalists. These yielded environmental principles for golf courses. Courses are now designed around natural landscape and environmental impacts are now prioritized and considered.
And while Anthony Williams, the GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club by Marriott, said it best when he said, “… and the best reason of all to ‘go green’ is because it’s the right thing to do,” we outline five reasons why more golf courses are now going green.
1. To provide needed wildlife sanctuaries
Wildlife conservation has become an added benefit and feature of many golf courses. Natural wildlife is an added attraction for many golfers (and even their families).
There is the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) that helps golf courses protect and preserve the environment by enhancing the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats of golf courses. The program also helps improve efficiency, and minimize potentially harmful impacts of golf
An example of such golf course is the Widow’s Walk in Scituate, Massachusetts. It became a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary golf course in 2002. One of the ways Widow’s Walk voluntarily provides benefits to the environment is by establishing avian nesting boxes and habitats.
2. To preserve water resources
Many golf courses now implement different strategies to efficiently irrigate and conserve water usage.
It can be as simple as turning off sprinkler systems a few minutes early and as elaborate as water reuse. For example, 419 golf courses in Florida use reclaimed water for irrigation. This has become an important aspect of wastewater management and water resource management in Florida.
3. To reduce and conserve energy
Energy conservation projects and policies can now be seen in most golf courses.
For example, most golf courses now use LED light bulbs. There are even courses that have implemented geothermal energy as their prime source of energy. In Minnesota, there are courses that tap below the surface of the Earth (50-150 feet) and use the energy to supply heat during winter and colder temperatures during summer. This cuts down energy usage severely.
4. To preserve natural areas and support plants and wildlife native to the area
Golf courses used to alter the natural landscape of their area, using grass that needs expensive maintenance in the form of fertilizers and constant mowing and watering. Now, golf courses are using more native grasses throughout the layout of their areas, which will no longer require high maintenance, resulting to less water and fuel being used.
5. To inculcate a “green conscience” in people
Golf courses have now taken a more aggressive stance towards educating their guests about green practices. Golf professionals add “green” teaching to their instruction programs. Some even go as far as offering a tour on their wildlife sanctuaries like opening up for school programs.
Green practices also abound throughout most golf course operations. Implementation of paper usage over plastic, a recycle plan and growing most fruits and vegetables in an on-site garden are just a few ways golf courses have become more proactive in doing their share in helping protect the environment.
More and more golf courses are realizing that they must make an effort to “go green”. Golf courses now strive to be good for the environment, going out of their way to help preserve the earth’s resources.