On Thursday, April 7, professional golfers from all across the globe will tee off the first round of the 2016 Masters Golf Tournament. Over the course of four days, golfers such as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson will play 72 holes at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, where the annual tournament has been held since 1934.
Augusta National’s fairways and greens are sure to stay lush, despite being played on so frequently. Some might assume water and fertilizers are heavily used to keep golf courses in the best shape possible, but many golf courses in the United States are more environmentally conscious than you may think!
Below, we've highlighted some of the most eco-friendly golf courses in the country.
Augusta National Golf Club
From holding the Par 3 Contest to announcing a green jacket winner, Augusta National Golf Club is known for historical golf traditions during its annual Masters Tournament. The course itself is made up of 18 holes – each themed with a different plant variety (e.g. Magnolia, White Dogwood, Azalea, Holly) that blooms just in time for the tournament. Augusta National closes during peak summer months to avoid course wear and tear. The club minimizes use of fertilizers, waters plants by hand and has robust tree mulching and tree reforestation programs.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina has five golf courses – Ocean Course, Turtle Point, Osprey Point, Oak Point and Cougar Point – and are all Audubon International Certified for their wildlife conservation efforts, waste management and more. The Ocean Course, which held the 2012 Professional Golf Association (PGA) Championships, is recognized for its attention to resource conservation. The course has about 14 miles of pipes that collect water from the golf cart paths and greens, according to Forbes Magazine. The collected water – totaling approximately 300,000 gallons per day – is reused to maintain the course.
The Old Collier Golf Club
The Old Collier Golf Club is an 18-hole course that sits on more than 250 acres of land in Naples, FL. It’s the first Audubon International Certified Gold Signature Sanctuary golf course in the world, according to its site. This means the course accommodates both golfers and surrounding wildlife. More than 150 acres of land remain untouched for the area's 100-plus bird species as well as other native animals. In addition to the club's wildlife preservation efforts, it also follows best practices by using recyclable materials, managing energy usage and reducing dependence on water and fertilizer.
Desert Willow Golf Resort
Desert Willow Golf Resort is located in Palm Desert, CA. Its two courses – Mountain View and Firecliff – are designed based on the surrounding desert landscape and climate. Course designers Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry limited the use of grass throughout both courses and incorporated native plants. Their goal was to achieve sustainability and reduce energy consumption. The course design and attention to natural elements is what make the Mountain View and Firecliff courses one of a kind. The Smithsonian Institute Magazine featured the Desert Willow Golf Resort for its "environmentally sound design and construction."
Pelican Hill Golf Club
Designer Tom Fazio believes "golf courses should reflect the natural beauty of their environments," and that's just what he proved at the Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, CA. Fazio designed Pelican Hill's Ocean North and Ocean South courses around natural elements such as canyons, elevated land and the Pacific Ocean. Pelican Hill focuses on best practices when it comes to waste management, water conservation and filtration and wildlife protection. In the past, the club has been recognized for its sustainability efforts and was nominated as one of Golf Digest's Green Star Environmental Award finalists.