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Will These Golf Resort Destinations Be Around Much Longer?

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Summer is just around the corner, and you know what that means: blockbuster disaster movies on big screens across the world, depicting all sorts of crazy Doomsday scenarios.

Well, the Pulitzer Prizes were announced recently, and the winner in the Feature Writing category was New Yorker writer Kathryn Schulz’s piece “The Really Big One,” about the potential for a devastating earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone, a barrier between a geological ocean plate and a land plate that runs down much of the Pacific Northwest United States.

Not that this would be a major concern in the grand scheme of things, but if “the big one” were to happen there or in Northern California, some of the world’s favorite cliffside layouts could be tossed into the ocean or crumpled beyond use. So…let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Unfortunately, earthquakes are not the only future global events threatening some of the world’s favorite golf destinations…

Rising seas

No matter your stance on global climate change, it is demonstrably true that whatever the cause, sea levels have risen in the last few decades, causing beach erosion and the general encroachment of the sea on many golf courses. Abroad, many of the world’s great links are under threat – particularly those in and around St. Andrews. Jan Bebbington, a professor at the University of St. Andrews, has predicted that The Old Course could find itself completely underwater as soon as 2050. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

A rendering of what an underwater Old Course (that's the R&A clubhouse filling up with seawater) could look like. (Jan Bebbington)

A rendering of what an underwater Old Course (that’s the R&A clubhouse filling up with seawater) could look like. (Jan Bebbington)

Stateside, the Links course at Wild Dunes Resort has experienced the very real effects of rising sea levels and beach erosion. In the last couple years, it became necessary to shorten and move the 18th hole away from the advancing surf, as the Atlantic Ocean had carved away the original greensite. Other coastal courses like The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Sea Island’s layouts and any number of Florida courses could face similar fates if sea levels continue to rise – and their rise continues to accelerate – in coming years.

Water shortages and restrictions

We are big fans of desert golf, but in light of the recent droughts across the West – particularly in California – many golf courses have been forced to cut back on their water usage, some by more than 25%. If such conditions continue, courses in places like Palm Springs and Phoenix/Scottsdale, which need a lot of water just to keep the grass alive – much less an unnatural shade of emerald green – will need to radically rethink their maintenance philosophies in order to keep serving golfers, who will in turn have to adjust their own perspectives on what it means for a course to be “in good shape.”

Water restictions have caused resorts like Pelican Hill to silence their sprinklers a little earlier than they'd prefer, but many golfers like the brown-tinged rough, especially as long as fairways and greens remain fun to play on. (Yuki Shimazu/Flickr)

Water restictions have caused resorts like Pelican Hill to silence their sprinklers a little earlier than they’d prefer, but many golfers like the brown-tinged rough, especially as long as fairways and greens remain fun to play on. (Yuki Shimazu/Flickr)

At the risk of coming off as being totally doom-and-gloom, there is some good news on this front. Many courses out West have adapted capably to new realities of water usage, and the result has been firmer, faster playing surfaces, which golfers are increasingly regarding as perfectly acceptable compensation for any changes in grass color.

What are your thoughts on the potential threats Mother Nature poses to golf courses? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

32 Comments

  1. badputter

    May 3, 2016 at 11:04 am

    overblown, over rated is this global disaster. the religion of man made global warming is unscientifically presented by scientists themselves. we cannot base plans and predictions on a religion of control of private industry, especially when China and India ignore it and brazil and Borneo cut down vast forests

  2. Tim P.

    May 3, 2016 at 11:10 am

    With the known fact of rising oceans along with water shortages, advanced technology in the arena of desalination plants and new underground pipelines to transport desalinated water could be a potential solution. These new infrastructures would be very costly, but as with everything else, these costs would have to be absorbed by the end user through municipality water bills and (of course) higher golf fees.

  3. Rick

    May 3, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Lived on 11th on Links at Wild Dunes. Played it many times and not only has the 18th green been destroyed many times but large Condo complex overlooking 18th is constantly threatened by ocean closeness and property values plummet.

  4. John

    May 3, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I’m REALLY disappointed that GVI is traveling down the path blazed by the AGW alarmists when it has been repeatedly revealed that the data used to propagate this myth (e.g., the infamous ‘hockey stick’ chart) has been provably tampered with and/or censored. NASA satellite data indicates there has been NO increase in temperature for 19 the past 19 years.

    Here’s a tip guys: Stick to golf and stop trafficking in man-made myths about trumped-up data and superstitious knowledge orchestrated by the America-hating United Nations.

  5. PJ Thompson

    May 3, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Golf is a convenient scapegoat for water starved municipalities and is a symbol of excess in communist countries and in those countries growing more communist. The greatest threat to golf courses is political not environmental, but for those of you with waterfront property in Hawaii or on the Monterey Peninsula I offer to reluctantly relieve you of your inevitably worthless hovels for a few cents on the dollar…

  6. John

    May 3, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I am so glad you said Mother Nature in your last sentence because that, the sun and God giveth and taketh away and has for millions of years and will continue. No pseudo scientist can explain the earth warming in the middle ages for several hundred years and going back to “normal”. What made Iceland and Greenland switch climates?It sure wasn’t carbon emissions. Golf courses and condos should not be built on the current water edge because it will naturally change up or down.

  7. Elmwine

    May 3, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    The lush fairways prevalent on most golf courses are unnecessary. Let them dry out a bit – not completely – and never water the rough. Keep tees, greens and the greens approaches/aprons watered to allow solid ball striking.
    Could save a lot of water….

  8. Jim

    May 3, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    All of the governments massaging the data to the results for their agendas. 30 years ago it was global cooling. You know there is a problem when they try to stifle all conversation contrary to global warming

  9. Gary C

    May 3, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Please refrain from this hyperbole about “rising seas” and “climate change”. Your opinion is uninformed and based on erroneous weather models and patterns dreamed up by people who wish to fleece taxpayers for the “offense” of having running water and indoor toilets in their homes.. Stick to golf and telling us about travel issues and such. Or just stop sending me amateur climate scare propaganda. Thank you.

  10. Paul

    May 3, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Is your next article going to be about how golf courses should embrace gender neutral bathrooms? PLEASE. Stay out of politics.

  11. Barry

    May 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Currently in NZ we have processed water from treatment plants being pumped out to sea. This treated and 100% useable water could be used on golf courses and other sports fields(it is nutrient rich). It is UV treated and 100% safe but will they let it be used…………nooo – reason – politics, they get in the way of a lot of environment saving initiatives and there needs to be a will to do it better.

  12. PJ

    May 3, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Continue clownish denial guys. Look at Greenland and the ice melting. Watch a documentary for once in your
    Life..The seas are a rising and you clowns may not
    live to see it, but it is happening.
    If Greenland does lose its ice, the sea level would rise by 7.4 meters.
    www . promice . dk
    You better hope this is wrong
    Data from 1996 to 2005 shows that the ice sheet is thinning even faster than supposed by IPCC. According to the study, in 1996 Greenland was losing about 96 km3 or 23.0 cu mi per year in mass from its ice sheet. In 2005, this had increased to about 220 km3 or 52.8 cu mi a year due to rapid thinning near its coasts,[42] while in 2006 it was estimated at 239 km3 (57.3 cu mi) per year.[9] It was estimated that in the year 2007

  13. John

    May 3, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    “If Greenland does lose its ice, the sea level would rise by 7.4 meters.”

    Pure poppycock, and you know it.

    Climate is always changing, and always will.
    Nothing is ever static. Fact: Entropy rules.
    Eternal cycles and rhythms dictated by our solar system.
    In sum: It’s the sun, stupid.

  14. Bob Pegram

    May 4, 2016 at 5:37 am

    I like the firmer fairways. I learned to play at Fox Hills in Culver City, CA. It was subdivided decades ago, but always played that way. For somebody who is used to lush fairways and soft greens, it takes some adjustments, but is not more difficult.

  15. Allison

    May 4, 2016 at 10:03 am

    It has been argued that the planet has been warming (with some minor variations) ever since the peak of the last Ice age – clearly not due to man’s use of fossil fuels. In fact way back then then oceans were 400 ft lower than they are now! Over the past 3 centuries water levels have risen 10cm a century.
    The real issue is that permits have been given to build in really unsuitable shorelines.

  16. chris m

    May 4, 2016 at 11:59 am

    wow.

  17. Tom

    May 10, 2016 at 9:04 am

    PJ has commented that the seas are rising from ice melt in Greenland. Let’s say that the melt is 250 cubic kilometers per year. At that rate, Greenland will take 11,400 years to melt it’s ice shelf. The average sea rise over that period due to this melting will be .65mm per year.

  18. DC

    May 10, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Just came back from a week in Arizona and every course I played was using waste water for irrigation. Most of the posts sound like your readers are a bunch of country club republicans who deny that anything is happening to the climate.

  19. JWK

    May 10, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I didn’t know so many of your subscribers are Republican. They must get their science facts from FOXNews.

  20. Gmac

    May 10, 2016 at 11:20 am

    NASA have shown that the ice caps on Mars are retreating at the same rate as here on earth which would indicate that the issue of warming is due to one common factor namely our local star or sun to me and you which only tells us that we have no control over it through taxation or any other way for that matter but we’re still left with a natural warming scenario that will have consequences for all of us but shudnt be used to scare monger or raise taxes

  21. ARL

    May 10, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    “Paul
    Is your next article going to be about how golf courses should embrace gender neutral bathrooms? PLEASE. Stay out of politics.”

    And right there is the root of a big problem. Climate Science is science, not politics. Fox News has made lots of science scary political, in order to keep folks riled up.

  22. British Rich

    May 10, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Grass is not really green, fertiliser and water green it up, finer drought resistant grasses have brownish tinge, they also play and putt better due less resistance. Unfortunately the punters get conned by what they see on the telly and expect the same play it as you find it and enjoy the walk in natural surroundings what ever that might be.

  23. Anonymous

    May 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    If Greenland has always (until recently) been covered with ice and snow, why the name “Greenland’, I guess someone one was just being funny? No I believe Greenland was once green and is going to be again for a spell. climate cycles are much longer than man has been keeping track.

  24. Hank Bond, Jr

    May 12, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Global warming is a very real thing, and it is some very greedy, self-centered people who deny that. These people care little about the future of unborn millions like many of ancestors did. Their attitude is actually “eat, drink, and be merry because we are all going to die.”

    You see the wars on the news and the natural disasters, and one thing is obviously clear, but few mention this. The human race does not have the resources to fight war and take care of the growing number and intensity of natural disasters, many connected directly with global warming.

    In other words, do not seek peace in the world because war is profitable, do not get serious about changing the energy we use because fossil fuels provide tons of jobs, and above all start cutting spending and never raise my taxes.

    Sorry, but I have to add this one. Pope Francis is about as great and good a person as we have ever seen, but he is wrong on one point. It is time to stop worrying so much about populating the world. Again, we simply do not have the resources to face the challenges that lie ahead, and with some areas of the world increasing their populations at the biological maximum, you will actually cause more death and suffering in the future. Famine, war, disease, poverty—these are things that are going to really hurt, and a few changes in how we live now could help to avert a lot of that pain and sorrow.

    As the seas rise, it will be impossible to continue living along the coasts to the extent we do now. Trump talks about a wall, and people laugh, but the project of building barriers to the rising seas will make that Trump wall look like a junior high science project. We need to get our heads out of the sand, set some priorities that make sense, stop thinking only about the present, and get to moving on solutions.

    Last point: Sanders and Clinton talk about beating the Republicans, and the Republicans are talking about beating Hillary. Both parties are missing a huge point. The main problem facing our nation is the division that is here and continues to grow. I will get excited when some strong candidate starts talking about uniting the whole nation, and to a certain degree, the whole world. The problems facing the whole human race will require the greatest degree of total team effort in the history of this planet. And we will be a whole lot better off when we get that kind of unity. Too many people are acting like it is time for the end of the world, so just let it happen. That’s BS regardless of who is saying it, and it is also a bunch of lazy, greedy people saying such destructive stuff. Ol Hank

  25. CanadienRick

    May 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

    WOW .. “Greenland is called Greenland because it used to be green”… WOW ..
    Are these folks for real .. “That global warming is all politics and no science”
    Let’s stick to golf ..
    To many of these answer are by folks who have their heads in the sand .. I’m trying to keep it polite

  26. Jocko

    May 17, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Funny thing is, in 1970 the world was worried about the coming ICE AGE! Fox wasn’t even around to tell you it wasn’t. Too many assumptions have to be accepted before you can subscribe to the theory that man is causing Global Warming – excuse me, Climate Change -and that it is a bad thing.

    The fact is, the climate has always been changing and to assume that its natural state is one of stasis is silly.The planet has been much warmer in previous epochs, none of which was due to anthropomorphic activity. It has also had periods when CO2 was much, much higher -during an Ice Age, no less.People also seem to overlook that these “scientists” have research grants and other funding to protect. Climatology is no more accurate than economics in accurately forecasting the future. Further, there is the assumption that man can deal with warming. There is also the tendency to overlook the benefits of warming such as longer growing seasons and increases in arable land. This is silly to even debate on a golf website.

  27. Donagal

    May 17, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Amazing that none of these global-warming alarmists ever mention the hundreds of active and semi-active volcanos worldwide which are
    spewing dirty, hot gases daily..
    And speaking of hot gases, perhaps some of these minimally informed
    amateurs, like the pope, should stick to subjects they know something about,
    whatever those may be.

  28. DrPhill

    May 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Thank God the vast majority of the commenters here have enough common sense to recognize MMGW as the mega-scam that it is. Of course we have the few Leftist alarmists blaming Fox News (I’m still trying to figure out what they have to do with this)and wetting their panties in protest. I have to agree with the prevailing view here towards GVI….stick to golf and stay out of politics.

  29. Aussie Jack

    May 19, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Greatest load of BS ever wasted on this site. The IPCC the great propaganda tool of the warmists predicts a rise of between 0.28 and 0.98 metres by 2100. So even they would junk your ridiculous scare mongering.

  30. NAWTH KAKALAKI

    January 10, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Can anyone get me a tee time to play at Tobacco Road before it goes under?

  31. NAWTH KAKALAKI

    January 10, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Let’s get down to business, can we still get T-times at all of these courses that are in danger

  32. Yomo

    January 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Some of these folks need to put their head out of their …Data does not lie only liars lie….Wish something is not true does not change facts…The attitude of let our children die from this problem does not help anyone……Opportunity does not develop character but only reveals it…

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