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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

As Earth’s weather worsens, are golf courses living on borrowed time?

by Tom Pilcher for CNN

The 30 or so golf courses in Utah’s Salt Lake County drink nearly nine million gallons of water a day to stay pristine green—that’s more than 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Managing turf on golf courses means using carbon-intensive fertilizers, cutting lots of grass and, in many cases, clearing forests or trees that make way for long paths of fairways while absorbing carbon-dioxide.

In other words, golf is a dirty game that is ruining the planet. But it doesn’t have to be.

Golf’s impact on the climate and environment has led to growing calls to make the sport more sustainable – even for playing on bone-dry courses, as enjoyed by golf legend Tiger Woods. .

And it’s not just to save the planet, but to save the sport itself, as the climate crisis threatens to turn many courses into muddy swamps.

Jason Straka, president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), told CNN Sport how the climate crisis is affecting golf in flood-prone Florida, and in Ohio and Utah, which have become warmer than usual. weather and even drought.

“Clubs never had to close after two inches of rain, now they do. They also experience floods on a sunny day,” Straka said.

In Miami, officials are raising public drains to a minimum of 3.4 feet, but more than 50% of courses in the city are under this minimum, which sets off alarm bells for Straka.

“If they don’t go out and literally lift their footprints in the air, they’re always going to be in deeper and deeper bathtubs,” he said.

“If they think they have a problem now, then in 10 years, they’re going to be a quagmire.”

But the change will equal the cost, which is where golf’s critics once again find their voices: the courses are no longer sustainable.

While courses in the eastern US are being threatened by changing rainfall patterns, deadly wildfires spreading west, including California, have led to poor air quality and course closures in recent years.

Less hardy, but by no means less worrisome, are rising temperatures in Ohio that are being affected by Bermuda grass, a warm-season grass that can be difficult to control.

The 30 or so golf courses in Utah’s Salt Lake County drink nearly nine million gallons of water a day to stay pristine green, which is home to more than 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools. (Christopher Lee/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images for PCA)

rain, fire, flood and snow

The situation in Australia is similar: Linwood Country Club, northwest of Sydney, was replenished in 2020 and earlier this year. In one stage, parts of the course were more than 26 feet under water, while Nambuca Heads, above the New South Wales coastline, received 42.5 inches of rain in just eight days.

On the same east coast, about 350 miles south of Sydney in the state of Victoria, Mallacuta Golf Club was nearly destroyed during the 2019 and 2020 bushfires, fairs providing a sanctuary for the city’s people. Club Catalina, off the NSW coast, broke through the firewall that threatened to wipe out the city.

But in a country accustomed to regular wildfires, courses are trying to hold water when it rains heavily for use in irrigation, or even for extinguishing fires.

Harley Krause, president of the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA), told CNN Sport: “Golf courses in Australia, by and large, all have some sort of irrigation storage which is very useful for fighting fires. ” Echoing Straka’s comments on future forecasts.

“Last year in Sydney, there was a 1 in 100 year flood event. We are going to get an increase in the incidence of various storms which could be a greater increase in wind, rain, cyclone or drought events. The golf course is resilient There needs to be more understanding.”

Australian Tim Lobb, President of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA), is promoting naturalization and grass reduction in Turkey to reduce water use – 15-20% of the area that was fine turf, low-maintenance Grass species will use .

In colder regions, the coastal courses around the British Isles face a very uncertain future – nothing more than the world’s fifth-oldest layout in Montrose, a few miles off the coast from major championship venue Carnoustie, where the last 30 Over the years, the sea has encroached on about 230 feet (70 meters) in places, according to research released in 2016.

With sea levels projected to rise by one meter over the next 50 years, the home of golf in St Andrews, Scotland, could be a Miami-like swamp by the early 2050s.

In Iceland, Edwin Roald, renowned Icelandic architect and founder of Eureka Golf — a company “committed to mitigating climate change through golf” — told CNN that cold Northern Hemisphere climates are characterized by water freezing and thawing cycles. How high frequency is becoming a real danger of course.

“We have a lot of issues with frozen water” […] And lots of flash floods, again and again throughout the winter. This is allowing land to be eroded without water.

“Winter hit, through suffocation of the turf under snow cover, is an increasing threat. This causes financial losses to courses that are opening in the spring with dead turf.”

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Solar panels and robotic mowers

At the COP26 summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow, North Berwick-based environmentalist GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf showed a virtual audience how golf is learning to be a champion among sporting bodies for a greener planet.

Woburn, the host course for the 2019 Women’s British Open, built its reservoir in 2013 to capture rainwater to irrigate its turf, and recently drilled a borehole to extract water from underground. The company that manages the course says the new infrastructure should make Woburn completely self-sufficient, so it isn’t using water that could otherwise be used for drinking and households.

Whereas at Remuera Golf Club in Auckland, carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions were reduced by about 25 tonnes from 2018-19, all through reductions in electricity use at the club.

Finland’s Hirsala Golf aims to have 40 electric-powered robotic mowers that could be sourced from renewable sources by 2022, reducing the use of 1,000 liters of diesel fuel, while the Golf de Payern in Switzerland has solar panels. has saved 1,080 tonnes of CO2.

Back in Iceland, the country is measuring the carbon status of all 65 of its golf courses through the Carbon Par project – the first golfing nation to make such an account.

“The method that is being used to produce this estimate is hopefully going to be used by others going forward. In order to improve, you first need to know where you stand,” Roald said. said.

“Golf courses are seizing a considerable amount of carbon, which I think few people actually associate with golf. Golf, on the other hand, is a big land user and is bound to use wetlands in places. When The emissions are great if you flush the wetlands.”

Forests, peatlands, deserts and tundra can all absorb and hold reserves of CO2. Data from the World Resources Institute shows that about 34% of all the carbon present in land-based ecosystems can be found in grasslands. This is not much less than 39% kept in forests. So whether a golf course can actually absorb a good amount of carbon-dioxide depends on how it is managed and whether it destroys more valuable land to begin with.

Ronald said: “It’s only a matter of time before the golf industry will be asked the question of what we can do with those wetlands – that’s where we can make the most impact.”

The climate change clamor has caught the eye of one of golf’s most recognizable voices in Rory McIlroy, one of several high-profile athletes who travel great distances by plane.

“I won’t self-claim to be an eco-warrior, but I am someone who doesn’t want to harm the environment,” the Florida-based Northern Irishman told the media at the DP World Tour Championships in Dubai.

“I live in a part of the world where hurricanes are very prevalent and becoming more and more prevalent as the years go on. I think we can all play our part in some way or the other. .

“We play on big pieces of land with lots of water and lots of other things that could probably be put to better use.”

As Earth's weather worsens, are golf courses living on borrowed time?
A view of the Royal Melbourne Golf Course ahead of the 2019 President’s Cup. (Warren Little/Getty Images Asiapac/Getty Images)

‘The way golf should be played’

Ahead of a visit to the world-famous Royal Melbourne in Australia, Krause referenced comments by Tiger Woods and Ernie Els at the 2019 President’s Cup.

Cutting to chase, both players talked a lot about the natural setup of the course – in short, like many previous Open Championships, the course was dry and rough and even vast areas of fairway water. Were gone without, “letting Mother Nature dish up the element to game play,” Krause said.

Well-watered and manicured golf courses can often provide softer conditions that produce better scoring and beautiful TV images, but Els & Woods took the opportunity to appreciate another approach that would become the norm as the course Look for sustainable practices.

Both Els and Woods talked about the benefits of playing on dry ground, such as in Australia.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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