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).

1 comment:

  1. Kevin, water and golf courses is a problem that will grow over the next 10 years. Blame irrigation, blame Augusta National in April which is wall to wall green. The US golfer thinks anything but green is wrong.

    Fast and firm is how courses should play. Ballyneal Golf Club in Colorado gets it. There saying is "Get down with Brown". The grass is fescue, they use a third of the water of the average course. A side effect is that it is walking only. The lightly irrigated fescue can't handle cart traffic.

    In Arizona, courses can only of 95 acres of grass, very little for a golf course. In addition, many courses use primarily reclaimed non-potable water for irrigation.

    It is a big issue that will get more and more recognition.

    Cheers, Mike