Fairer Fairways: Eco-Golf

Golf courses are getting a little greener.

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The Sanctuary Golf Course in Scottsdale, Arizona, is certified by the Audubon International environmental leadership program.

Photo courtesy Suncor Golf

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For some people, golf is tinged with eco-guilt. The 16,000-plus golf courses in the United States take up equivalent land area to Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Each eighteen-holer, on average, drinks enough water for a town of 8,000 and is sprinkled with a dozen pounds of pesticides per acre (NationalGeographic.com). In add­ition, fairway mowing guzzles gasoline and creates fumes. The good news: Two groups are helping courses restore emphasis on the natural environment.

Audubon International (AI; no relation to the Audubon Society): Offers voluntary golf course eco-certification, focusing on improving water conservation, promoting wildlife habitat, and reducing chemical use. Currently, 2 percent of U.S. courses are certified; 13 percent are members of AI’s cooperative sanctuary programs. (518) 767-9051; AudubonInternational.org/ programs/acss/golf.htm 

Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG): This philanthropic offshoot of the Golf Course Superintendents Association is committed to astute course siting, design, and construction; energy ­conservation; and better water, wildlife, and plant management. (800) 472-7878; EIFG.org

A few golf courses are making the game better than “par for the course.”

• RAPTOR BAY GOLF CLUB; Bonita Springs, Florida

• SUMMER GROVE GOLF CLUB; Newnan, Georgia

• WIDOW'S WALK; Scituate, Massachusetts

• FOREST DUNES GOLF CLUB; Roscommon, Michigan

• SANCTUARY GOLF COURSE AT WESTWORLD; Scottsdale, Arizona

• CYPRESS RIDGE GOLF COURSE; Arroyo Grande, California

• DESERT WILLOW; Palm Desert, California