Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Discussion of “How Green is Golf?” by John Barton – Part 2 of 5



change your expectations









The Remarks of John Barton

“Golf in America will face a crisis over water. There simply won’t be enough to go around for golf courses to continue to do what they have been doing.”

I have often heard water being called the “new oil” and that some even feel that more wars will be started over water than any other factor in the future. The use of water in semi-arid and arid conditions particularly in the south west of the United States is something that is incomprehensible in the long run. I agree with his assertion that golf may be forced to disappear in places like Las Vegas and Phoenix if those cities continue to rapidly expand while the source of water continues to deplete. Water will simply be too expensive – socially and economically – for golf to exist in the long, long term.





remember that kids play and they are at greater risk





“Can we be sure that the chemicals aren’t harmful?”

One of the great observations brought up in this article is how often that a product was approved by the EPA and then requiring banning after collected evidence proved that a product carried a harmful side effect. I did all the spraying of my parents apple orchard for quite a few years as a teenager and I know what instructions on the bags said and it was enough for me to don the space suit every time out. While we know that today’s chemicals carry a lower toxicity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are safe or more importantly fully understood yet.

His summary contains a wonderful paragraph that describes where we seem to be headed if this movement truly takes hold – and to be honest I like it.

"As water management becomes scarcer, as organic management practices increase, as environmentalism and environmental legislation start to bite more than they have, as the economy struggles, and as we come to appreciate the aesthetics of golf courses in all their many natural beautiful hues, the way the game looks will change. And the way it plays will change too, with firmer and faster turf demanding a return to shot-making, creativity, the bump and run.”

If you remember my “Future of Golf In Canada” series – you will see that I also drew a similar conclusion after spending almost two months on this subject before writing for the week. The series is here: http://thecaddyshack.blogspot.com/2008/03/future-of-golf-course-architecture-in.html We will be eventually legislated down this road, we will need to change our expectations on what our courses look like and we end up with courses that play a little different than the typical American Parkland layout.

The Sidebars




walk always








“A Call to Action – What You can Do?”

The sidebar touches on all the key points: get involved, support the golf superintendent through this change, make the personal decisions that have an impact like walking, change your mind about what good conditioning means, and make the changes at home to follow through at all levels of your life. Nothing earth shattering but a good list for someone who is new to this issue. I think the key factor here is if you believe in lower the clubs impact, you must also be vocal and supportive to the superintendent by changing people’s expectations. All the superintendents I know like the idea but fear losing their jobs because the expectations don’t change in the membership. If you want change – you must support them through what will be a very tough time.

“Golf Digest Changes its Views on Conditioning”

This simply talks about the fact that rankings have changed how the raters should rate the conditions of the course. The methodology has been changed to reflect the new approach promoted in this piece. I think the editors are noble – but I’m not as convinced that the rankers will have the same view. Most are single digit handicaps who got that way by caring a great deal about the score they shoot – a bad bounce or bad lie will effect what they think of a course – at least that has been my experience with them.



Could Seminole disappear?






“Global Warming”

This sidebar talks about how many coastal courses are at risk if the seas rise due to global warming. If someone has proof that the seas are in fact rising please send it through to me. I believe in the principle of reducing our impact hole-heartedly but I have yet to see a definitive proof of this phenomenon that is not based upon a model rather than measurements. If it is true, the notion of losing at least part of courses like Fishers Island, Seminole and the TPC at Sawgrass is depressing.

To Part 3

17 comments:

Henrye said...

Ian. As I understand it, the main potential culprit of the seas rising rest with weather or not the Greenland ice shelf melts. In most other Arctic areas the ice already floats on the ocean, so this melt will have a negligible effect, but if the ice shelf on Greenland were to melt I'm told the seas will rise some 5 to 10 meters - lots of ice on that Greenland.

As for firm and fast conditions, I'm interested to know what grasses and soils are best suited to less water. It strikes me that a lot of courses were designed with different soil conditions and different grasses. Which will be best suited in the future?

Nenos said...

See Please Here

RT said...

Ian: re: coastal erosion. As I wrote last year in T&L Golf, I think there is anecdotal info that some great golf courses are at risk. That said, I don't necessarily think this is due to rising seas; however, it could well be due to global warming and changing weather patterns. Take The Ocean Course at Kiawah. For 20 years the tides brought sand to the coast. Suddenly the tides changes and sand was taken away, leading to a big problem.

Wayne said...

Nevermind losing TPC at Sawgrass, if water levels rise we could lose the Old, New and Jubilee courses at St Andrews, parts of Royal Dornoch and more of the Scottish links courses.

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