Monday, May 31, 2010

Water, water, everywhere

When you head out to play your round of golf, chances are you’re not thinking about the environment. But have you ever stopped to think about the volume of water needed to keep golf courses lush and green? Sorry, stupid question – this is Ireland after all, and water is not a problem (actually, it is, but that’s for another day).

[Photo: sun rays and sprinklers over Ceann Sibeal, Dingle]

But how about globally ? How do they keep courses in Arizona and California so green amidst all that desert? What about Australia, Portugal, Turkey, India…

I have a friend who lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, near Kingston Heath where Tiger won the JBWere Masters in November 2009. Leading up to the tournament, local streets had their water supply shut off during the day, so that the golf course could use the reserves for watering. Lush and perfect fairways and greens filled your TV screen. Australia is a democracy at least, so there is recourse for aggrieved citizens, but what about places like China where the government simply doesn’t care about its people, and railroads projects through villages and conservation areas (see my previous blog below), using up all the water?

[Fountain at Palmerstown]
I’m not getting on my high horse here, I’m just trying to lead in to some general knowledge questions that might interest you:
1. How many golf courses are there worldwide?Answer: circa 32,000
2. How many of these are in the USA?Answer: Over half – around 17,000 (including 197 military courses!)
3. How many litres of water are required by the world’s courses EVERY DAY?

Think about it for a minute and try to work it out before hazarding a guess.

32,000 courses. Would each one on average use 1,000 litres a day (that’s 220 gallons)? 2,000, 5,000? If you’re thinking 2,000, then that equates to 64 million litres (14 million gallons) every day.

It’s time for you to make a guess. Go on give it your best shot.

The answer is 9.5 billion litres – which is approximately 300,000 litres a day (66,000 gallons) per course, per day! I should also point out that I’m using the American definition of a billion (a thousand million), and not the British (a million million).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lonely Planet Irony + Lucan Golf Club

Is it just me, or is there a touch or irony that on the day the Lonely Planet places golf 6th on its 'must-see/must-do Irish attractions', the Irish Times also publishes a story about two golfers beating the crap out of each other in the toilets of Lucan Golf Club?

What were they fighting about? Football. Am I surprised? No.

[Photo: Lucan's 1st and best hole]

You know what they say: "rugby is a hooligans' game played by gentlemen; football is a gentleman's game played by hooligans."

The same would appear to be true about football fans. And besides, one of them was a Manchester United fan!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rory McIlroy

I am not going to wax lyrical about Rory's weekend rounds - and especially that final back 9 - at Quail Hollow. Everyone else will be doing it and I will have nothing new to add except a reverential silence.

What I will do is apologise to Rory: after the Masters, when he said he would take 6 weeks off, I thought it was the best thing for him. It would give his back a rest and give him a chance to re-discover his mojo. I got the impression that too many people were sitting in the wings, offering advice - and it was messing with his head. Here was - essentially - a kid who ripped up golf courses for breakfast, with very little advice from anyone else. Suddenly as a professional, as the 'next big thing', everyone wanted to give him advice, and when it's coming from every angle it's hard to ignore. When his putting deserted him last year he even went on Twitter looking for suggestions!

After the Masters, and after his extremely short lay-off, he came back and said he was going to go back to doing what he did best - rip up courses for breakfast. I had my doubts, but Quail Hollow quashed them instantly. I was, am and will always be, a huge fan and the coming months and tournaments are going to be thrilling.