Golf gets back to
everyone to play
Using natural landforms and native grasses
and plants, golf course designers are creating
links that are environmentally up to par
With more than 15,000 golf courses in the United States, golf's
appeal just keeps growing. But is carving fairways out of a
forest, moving sand dunes or planting thirsty Bermuda grass in
a desert setting really an intelligent use of land? And to keep
these courses free of bugs, weeds and brown spots, is it
worth the liberal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides?
Working on the principle that a well-designed course can
actually put health back into the land, some golf courses are
providing eye-opening answers to these questions. In Scituate,
Massachusetts, what was once an abandoned quarry and illegal
dumping ground is now the site of Widow's Walk, a public golf
course full of vegetation and wildlife. At Desert Willow, a $10
million project in Palm Desert, California, architect Michael
Hurdzan created a public course that's every bit a part of its
desert environment by using plants native to the desert valley
and limiting the grassy areas to a scant 75 to 80 acres.
Cloverdale Golf Club in Washington State might be the essence
of public golf. Once a working dairy farm, it had a herd of
well-tended holsteins roaming this land just three years ago.
But with milk prices in "the pits," owners Rick and Cynthia
Witscher turned to golf. Their course, with its hardy turf of six
native grasses, is as environmentally light on the land as an
ancient Scottish links.
Writer Jay Stuller traveled from California to St. Andrews,
Scotland, to find a new ethic in golf course design that provides,
in his words, "a refreshing counterpoint to criticism of a sport
that once seemed beyond reproach."