How is Global Warming Affecting Golf Courses?

Nothing Escapes Global Warming, not Even Sports. We Analyze how this is Affecting the Practice of Golf Around the World.

golfer on playing field

Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

Listen to this article

Leer en español: ¿Cómo está afectando el calentamiento global a los campos de golf?

Golf is one of the many sports that are practiced outdoors and, therefore, usually depends on the weather. However, behind this discipline there is also a dark truth that makes it a "dirty" activity because it gradually destroys the planet. How is that possible? How is global warming influencing golf courses? What measures are being taken in this regard?

To keep golf courses green and well-kept, several ingredients are needed on a large scale: gallons of water a day, high-carbon fertilizers, lots of pesticides, and lots of pruning. But beyond all the investment that such maintenance requires, from associations to professional players are working hard to make this sport more sustainable, even if they have to play on dry grass.

Now, at a time when global warming continues to wreak havoc everywhere, the fight becomes joint to save both the planet and golf itself. Whether due to flooding in the most coastal areas, or drought in more central places, the climate crisis is already hitting the fields hard, which are no longer lasting as before.

"Before, clubs didn't have to close after a 2-inch rain, now they do. They also experience flooding on sunny days," Jason Straka, president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, told CNN Sport in an interview. . In fact, the United States is one of the countries that has been most affected, especially in the eastern part of the country, whose rain patterns show a gray future with many fields turned into swamps.

Europe and Australia also suffer

On the other hand, the colder regions of Europe face an uncertain future with most of their golf courses. For example, in Scotland, fields such as Montrose and St. Andrews are the ones that suffer the most from climate change, since in the last three decades the sea has invaded almost 70 meters and that could bring a future full of swamps, just like in Miami.

In fact, it is the cycles of freezing and thawing of water that threaten those countries in the Northern Hemisphere. As Edwin Roald, founder of the Eureka Golf company that seeks to mitigate the climate crisis through sport, explained to CNN, the continuous and sudden floods cause the grass to suffocate when it freezes and dies, causing great damage when the courses are reopened in spring.

Also read: The records that Novak Djokovic has yet to break

Similar situations are experienced in Australia, which is torn between floods and forest fires. In the first case, fields up to eight meters underwater from five-day rains have been seen. While in the second, several golf clubs were close to perish with the large-scale fires of 2019 and 2020, although this led them to adapt certain irrigation systems to their courses to prevent further damage.

Short and long term solutions

Given the magnitude of what global warming means, experts know that golf courses must now be more flexible when they are hit by storms, rains, cyclones and even increased droughts. And it is that at this point, the naturalization and reduction of grass is already being promoted in some countries to reduce water consumption, replacing what was fine grass with grass that requires less maintenance.

For its part, other measures that are underway go through the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO₂). In Auckland, for example, they have managed to reduce up to 25 tons of carbon dioxide by reducing electricity in their clubs. While in Switzerland, the Payerne golf course has been successful in applying solar panels to save thousands of tons of CO₂.

In short, organizations related to golf are already at the forefront among the sports associations that are applying the most solutions to counteract global warming. From robotic lawnmowers powered by renewable energy to abandoned golf courses turned into solar farms, the climate crisis has one of its most delicate antitheses today in this sport.