News and Notes

More Green Golf


Last month, GreenSportsBlog ran a two-part series on the Greening of Golf (click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.)

We thought that, for a sport that has not been at the forefront of the greening movement, two stories were enough. Well, we may have sold golf short as sustainable golf stories continue to abound. So before you head out to the local public links or driving range this weekend, take a look at our Green Golf Friday News & Notes. 


In addition to our own two-part Green-Golf series, two weeks ago we pointed to a Wall Street Journal story about how California golf courses are staying green, despite the catastrophic, four-year drought. This week, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Gillian Flaccus took the baton from the Journal and dug a bit deeper into how courses managers in the Golden State are dealing with severe water restrictions, mandated by Governor Jerry Brown, with “California Golf Courses Tee Up Water-Saving Measures”.

Per Flaccus, “some of the finest courses in California are taking such steps as tearing out the grass in places where it won’t affect the game, planting drought-resistant vegetation, [and] letting the turf turn brown in spots.” This last initiative echoes what M.G. Orender, President of Florida-based Hampton Golf Management and former President of the PGA of America said to GreenSportsBlog back in March: “Brown Is the New Green.”

Can golf courses really tear out grass and not affect the game? According to Flaccus’ article, the answer is yes–and doing so may help them stay in business: “Some golf courses already are spending up to $500,000 a year on water to maintain [an] oasis look. Country clubs also realize that the sight of great expanses of perfect grass won’t sit well with the public when people are being asked to take four-minute showers, flush less and let their own lawns wither. [Thus,] many of California’s more than 860 golf courses have jumped at turf reduction rebate programs run by water agencies. The programs offer $2 to $3 for every square foot of turf removed.” Course superintendents say they can easily dig up to 25 acres of grass adjacent to the fairways and around the clubhouse without affecting the game one bit.

Who knew?

Of course, if the drought continues unabated, then turf reduction measures may well end up being much more severe and have an impact on the game itself.

SF Gate brown gold

Golfers walk past dry vegetation at the El Niguel Country Club in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Pressed by the fourth year of bone-dry weather and state-mandated water cuts, some of the poshest courses in California are ceding back to nature some of their manicured green grass and letting the turf they don’t rip up turn just a little bit brown. (Photo credit: Gregory Bull, AP)


If golf fans hear from Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne, it’s likely to be at the presentation, of the fabled Green Jacket to the winnerby the previous year’s winner, with CBS’ Jim “Hello, friends” Nantz serving as emcee. One does not expect Payne to be talking about golf and sustainability.

But, as detailed Thursday by FanSided’s Elizabeth Bethel in “Golf Industry Leaders Talk Sustainability”, there Payne was, along with LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Fichem, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis, and PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacque at a State of the Game panel event at last week’s Players’ Championship at TPC Sawgrass, discussing green and golf. And we’re not talking the place where the flag sits!

To be sure, for much of the panel event, when the word “sustainability” was uttered, it was in the context of how golf can sustainably grow participation among younger demographics. I get that. That’s an existential challenge.

But, environmental sustainability/water management was discussed, as profligate use of water was seen by the panelists as both a barrier to entry for younger participants concerned about the environment and, long term, as, well, an existential challenge to the game itself.

Billy Payne of the Masters and other top golf bigwigs talked about environmental sustainability. There will be more of this, of that there there is no doubt. Let’s see what action comes from the talk.


Billy Payne Spieth Green Jacket

Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne (r) and 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson look on as Jordan Spieth dons the Green Jacket moments after winning last month’s tournament. This is where one expects to see and hear Payne. But last week, Payne was talking about environmental sustainability at a “State of the Game” panel event at The Players’ Championship. (Photo credit: SB Nation)



Finally, Sustainable Brands was up Wednesday with a small but important post, announcing that PGA National Resort & Spa, which includes PGA National Golf Course, became certified as a sustainable venue.

PGA National underwent and passed the “American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings, Events, Trade Shows and Conferences, in addition to the ASTM Standard for Accommodations.” The resort has gone beyond the minimum required for certification with its “‘Fore the Planet’ commitment to Green Lodging, a defined sustainability policy, green event and meeting services and a partnership to support local wildlife initiatives.”

The hope here is that, with super-high profile PGA National taking the green lead, a much wider swath of courses and resorts will follow.


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  1. […] on GreenSportsBlog (click here for our interview with “Green Golfer” Aubrey McCormick, here for an all-golf News and Notes post, and here for a story on the Zero-Waste Waste Management […]

  2. […] winds, the Greening of Golf is moving forward, from the Zero Waste Waste Management Phoenix Open to improving water usage at courses in drought-ravaged and golf-mad California. Now the US Army has stepped up to the Green-Golf tee box, via a recently announced partnership […]

  3. […] the efforts, especially in the US, to green the game from tee to, well, green (click here, here and here for examples). Now we turn our attention to the work of the Golf Environment Organization […]

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