Golf course managers take a swing at sustainability
Crystal Springs Golf Course in Burlingame, California is trying to change how golf courses are maintained by focusing on eco-friendly practices. SmartPlanet visits the golf course to take a look at what they're doing to go green.
>> Sumi Das: The game of golf is played and loved by millions upon millions of people around the world. But there are some that believe that the game harms the environment, whether it's wasting water or consuming precious land. Tom Isaak operates more than a dozen golf courses in the San Francisco Bay area through his golf management company, CourseCo. He's trying to change how golf courses are maintained by focusing on sustainability, which he says is good for the environment and the bottom line.
>> Tom Isaak: Mother Nature provides a pretty good start for natural balance. If we can operate closer to natural conditions, we probably are on a more stable foundation.
>> Sumi Das: One example is at Crystal Springs Golf Course, built around 32,000 acres of wildlife refuge near the rolling hills of northern California. Tim Powers is the golf course's superintendent.
>> Tim Powers: We're trying to put out playable conditions using the least amount of inputs possible.
>> Sumi Das: First, by reducing pesticides and fungicides.
>> Tim Powers: We try to stay away from synthetics, use more organics. Our biggest fertilizer is a seaweed product.
>> Sumi Das: But also by conserving water.
>> Tim Powers: We had a new irrigation system put in, and we reduced our coverage from 90 acres to 75. Our tees and fairways no longer have irrigation. They're allowed to grow native.
>> Sumi Das: In other words, letting the course go brown in the summertime when there's not a lot of rain.
>> Tim Powers: Whenever our rain does finally stop this year, it will all turn brown and it'll be brown all the way across, and gets thin, it adds terrific definition to the golf course and the wildlife like it.
>> Sumi Das: Powers says doing right by the wildlife is what motivates him to go green.
>> Tim Powers: Deer, bobcat, coyote, a lot of birds -- we want to keep it natural. We're in a special setting.
>> Sumi Das: Powers and his crew have also built bird nests all over the course to keep the habitat thriving.
>> Tim Powers: They've lost so much of their normal area with all the building that's gone on, we try to give them places where they can survive, and they have plenty of food.
>> Sumi Das: Other sustainable practices no the course -- a solar powered rest stop and a washing and filtration system to remove pesticides and petroleum substances from the groundskeeping equipment.
>> Tim Powers: We've got a filter system that we've put in here. There's a charcoal filter in each of these units, so when the water gets washed off and the water that goes through with the filters take out the petroleum products and the pesticides before the water gets released out into the side over here.
>> Sumi Das: While Crystal Springs is probably more the exception than the rule when it comes to sustainability, there is little doubt it's the direction golf is driving.
>> Tim Powers: It's good for everybody, it's good for the wildlife, the community, your children that are going to follow you.
>>Sumi Das: For SmartPlanet, I'm Sumi Das.