Is there anything more enchanting than a beautiful golf course? From Pebble Beach to Augusta to Whistling Straits, the list goes on. Golf courses carved into the forest, in the heart of the desert, or on the water’s edge - there's something for everyone. These immaculately maintained courses bend nature to the will of man, but it's easy to overlook the tremendous resources required to build and maintain them. From human and natural resources to economic and spatial considerations, the environmental impact of golf courses can be significant, especially depending on their location. Let’s compare the environmental impact of traditional golf courses with that of simulator golf.
The average American golf course consumes an astounding 312,000 gallons of water per day. In Palm Springs, where there are 57 golf courses in the Colorado Desert, each course uses approximately one million gallons of water per day. While these figures are difficult to comprehend, at least for me, they highlight the significant water usage of traditional golf courses. By way of comparison, the average two-person household in the US uses only 60 gallons of water per person per day. Personally, I only take one or two showers per week, because I’m greasy. Also, I’m a below average human being in pretty much all facets of life. It's worth noting that many golf courses are taking steps to reduce their water usage, such as using recycled water, being more selective with which areas they water on the course, and utilizing grass types that are better adapted to local climates. However, in contrast to traditional golf courses, simulator golf requires so little water. Some might go as far to say no water. The artificial turf is always green and doesn't require sunlight or water to maintain its appearance. The only water needed is if you’re physically consuming it or if you happen to have that succulent that just won’t die that needs the occasional splash of water. When it comes to water usage, it's an obvious victory for simulator golf.
It’s no secret that the land occupied by golf courses is expansive. Then, multiply that occupied space by the 40,000+ courses worldwide, that’s millions of acres that are used and enjoyed by very few people. Often, it’s prime real estate that could be used for agriculture, housing, public parks, natural habitats – take your pick. Now, there are plenty of scathing articles out there that are very anti-golf, some that go as far as saying they would like to “eradicate golf” entirely. However, this is not my stance. I love golf. But I’m simply comparing the use of space in traditional golf to simulator golf, and there is no comparison. Many times, the area used for a golf simulator is an existing space that is being repurposed with no deforestation or excavation. Land is a finite resource, and simulator golf clearly takes the nod over traditional golf.
This is where I need to take a break. I don’t like taking a negative stance on traditional golf because of my affection for the game. I need to take one of my showers for the week and regroup before I take on Part 2 of this blog series.