Golf’s go­ing green... and it’ll make game a lot harder to play!

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Femail - By Mark Howarth

FOR golfers strug­gling in the rough, it will come as un­wel­come news – Scot­land’s golf cour­ses could be­come harder to play over con­cerns that our greens are not ‘green’ enough.

New re­search shows that pris­tine fair­ways gen­er­ate as much harm­ful green­house gases as a small town.

Sci­en­tists say that every acre of man­i­cured turf pro­duces around 600kg of green­house gases a year.

With around 550 cour­ses, Scot­tish golf’s car­bon foot­print equates to 21,500 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Now there are calls for min­i­mum main­te­nance – which means shrink­ing fair­ways and ex­tra rough.

The Swedish In­sti­tute of Agri­cul­tural and En­vi­ron­men­tal En­gi­neer­ing and Swedish Univer­sity of Agri­cul­tural Sciences ex­am­ined two Scan­di­na­vian cour­ses.

They found that keep­ing fair­ways and greens in pris­tine con­di­tion is car­bon-in­ten­sive. Diesel-pow­ered mow­ers run up fuel use while fer­tiliser and rot­ting grass emit ni­trous ox­ide. The study – in the journal Ur­ban Forestry & Ur­ban Green­ing – states: ‘Ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures for re­duc­ing car­bon foot­print are re­duced mow­ing fre­quency; in­vest­ment in elec­tri­fied ma­chin­ery; low­er­ing the fer­tiliser rate and re­duc­ing the amount and trans­port of sand.’

Lead au­thor Dr Pernilla Ti­daker said: ‘I un­der­stand there is a wish from be­gin­ners and less skilled golfers to ex­tend the fair­way but that leads to higher CO2 im­pact.’

How­ever, many cash-strapped cour­ses have em­braced the idea.

James Hutchin­son of the Bri­tish and In­ter­na­tional Golf Green­keep­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, said: ‘The in­dus­try has started to let ar­eas go by re­duc­ing the amount of turf that gets cut.

‘Where fair­ways are smaller and rough larger, some golfers will spend more time look­ing for their ball.’

Robert Pat­ter­son, course man­ager at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, said: ‘We are re­turn­ing the rough to tra­di­tional thin and wispy grass, so it will need mow­ing every three weeks in­stead of twice a week.

‘There is a fine bal­ance. You have to look af­ter your mem­bers so you can’t make the course too dif­fi­cult.’

Ed­die David, pres­i­dent of Til­li­coul­try Golf Club in Clack­man­nan­shire, said: ‘We brought in some fair­ways and let more of the course go to rough, but some of the older guys were up in arms. But our car­bon emis­sions are com­ing down as we use less diesel.’

‘Will spend more time look­ing for a ball’

EMIS­SIONS: Scot­land’s fair­ways

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