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