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.

Ontario Banning ‘Cosmetic’ Pesticides

People in Ontario will have nicer grass to roll around in next year – except on golf courses and farmer’s fields. No, I have no idea how using pesticides on a golf courses aren’t classified as a cosmetic use, although golf course might still be subject to the law (I don’t know yet). The main thrust of the legislation is to ban the sale of consumer pesticides, municipal bans could be circumvented by buying the pesticides and using them anyway. Now that loophole will be closed.

The provincewide ban is aimed at replacing a patchwork of local pesticide bylaws, but Ontario farmers will be exempt. There’s no word yet if the province also plans to exempt golf courses from the ban.

The Conservatives and New Democrats said Monday they would likely support the legislation, but they first want to make sure the ban will actually help the environment and isn’t just a public relations move by the Liberal government.

“I think our inclination is to probably support it, but at the same time we want to hear from the folks who are experts in this area, and whether they think it’s all politics or whether there is going to be some meaningful benefit to the environment,” said Opposition Leader Bob Runciman.

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