A Climate Hole in One in Spain

Golf courses are notorious for being awful for the environment and as a place that ruins otherwise good walks. Spanish Extinction Rebellion members have had enough of local golf courses consuming vast amounts of water for an elite sport while the world literally burns. The water golf courses use can be better used in nature, for crops, or for people to drink. Good on XR Spain for taking some direct action and calling out the horrible practices of golfers.

XR said it wanted to point out the “cynicism of continuing to allow this type of elitist leisure while Spain dries up and the rural world suffers millions in losses due to the lack of water for their crops.”

Spain has been in a long-term drought since the end of 2022, with conditions exacerbated by soaring temperatures. In April, temperatures in the city of Córdoba reached 38.8 degrees Celsius (101.8 Fahrenheit), the highest April temperature ever recorded in mainland Spain. And in late June, temperatures soared to more than 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit) in parts of the country.

The drought has had far-reaching impacts. Some reservoirs sunk to less than 10% of capacity, millions of hectares of crops across the country have been lost and some towns and villages have been forced to to rely on trucked in water.

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Over 100 Golf Courses Closing in China

I make games for a living and I love seeing people have fun – but I really don’t like golf courses. Golf takes up a lot of land and consumes an inordinate amount of water for the amount of entertainment it provides. Essentially, I agree that golf ruins a perfectly good walk.

In China the environmental (and social) costs of golf courses have reached record heights. As a result, over 100 golf courses are being closed by the Chinese government. Ironically, these golf courses were classified as parks and were built since China banned the development of new golf courses in 2004.

China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses in an effort to conserve water and land, and telling members of the ruling Communist Party to stay off the links.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Sunday the courses were closed for improperly using groundwater, arable land or protected land within nature reserves. It said authorities have imposed restrictions on 65 more courses.

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Thanks to Delaney!

In Japan, Abandoned Golf Courses Become Solar Farms

Golf courses have a well deserved reputation of being absolutely horrible for the environment. Golf courses are responsible for deforestation and damaging local ecological systems all while consuming an absurd amount of water.

In Japan, where many golf courses have gone out of business, they are converting the massive chunks of land into something useful: solar farms. The open fields are located near where electricity needs to go and thus are in a prime location.

Last week, Kyocera and its partners announced they had started construction on a 23-megawatt solar plant project located on an old golf course in the Kyoto prefecture. Scheduled to go operational in September 2017, it will generate a little over 26,000 megawatt hours per year, or enough electricity to power approximately 8,100 typical local households. The electricity will be sold to a local utility.


Green Golfing

Golf courses are notorious for their obnoxious water consumption and fuel use to keep the grounds looking artificial. A new golf course where the US Open will be played in 2015 is the environmental gem for the U.S. Golf Association (USGA).

It’s really good to see that golf courses are understanding the importance of sustainable design.

Thompson, like many other visitors, eventually discovered that the municipally owned course is a leader in the golf sustainability movement. Its 85 acres (34 hectares) of turf are covered with fescue grass, which requires less watering–half that of nonfescue courses–less mowing and smaller amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While the grass is not a good fit for every climate, it works well in northern Europe and the Pacific Northwest–although Chambers Bay decided it was too delicate to handle being trampled by golf carts. (Cue the caddy-job-creation program.)

The course also has 74 acres (30 hectares) of dunes and 91 acres (37 hectares) of bunkers, features that need almost no maintenance. “There is no irrigation, no fertilizer, no chemicals, nothing,” Larry Gilhuly, a USGA sustainability expert, says of the dunes. Plus, the sandy soil, which drains freely, allows the course to retain all storm water on-site.

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Here’s more good news on green golf courses.

Eco-Friendly Golf Courses

I never thought I’d be writing about golf courses on this site because golf courses are absolutely awful for the environment. They use lots of pesticides and consume insane amounts of water – all so people can hit a ball into a hole. So, it is with shock that I find out that there are at least seven eco-friendly golf courses on this planet. These are places I’d try to hit a ball!

Machrihanish Dunes, Scotland

This course in Scotland, opening this May, is historic in a number of ways. It’s being built on a Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), the first time this has ever been allowed. The course steers clear of the rare native plants for its fairways and makes only less important grounds in play. It’s also literally inspired by golf history. The course will use no pesticides, chemicals or non-natural irrigation systems at all. Not even heavy machinery is allowed on the course. It will be a throwback to how the game started, a real natural links course built out of the sand dunes near the Mull of Kintyre. The course’s naturalist approach to the game is a lesson Donald Trump, who has been trying to build a 1 billion pound golf resort on wetlands nearby, would do well to learn.

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