7 Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption on Golf Courses

Turfhugger recently met with Tom Mead, the charismatic golf sustainability consultant from Traverse City Michigan. "Conservation" might as well be Toms middle name, so we asked him to put together a list of ways the average golf course can reduce their energy consumption, and included a few links and articles to expand on some points. Enjoy, and thanks Tom!

Lets count them down from #7

Consume Less and Utilize Local Resources.
Lets take bunkers in to consideration. The recently constructed Sagebrush in BC decided to get their sand locally. A local sand aggregate company traded materials with developers for a donation to a local hospital. Very Cool!

The USGA Agronomist James T Snow wrote a great article back in September of 09 "Extending The Life of Bunker Sand". Although "conservation" is not the point of Mr. Snows article, it does outline some great tips on renewing life in hard, dirty bunker sand. By re-using this resource you are preventing sand from being extracted, cleaned, shipped, and likely re-shipped to your facility.

In regions where warm season grasses are utilized, Eliminate Overseeding Practice.
Have seen this article (Getting Over Overseeding) from Golf Course Industry? An excellent review of cost savings from various clubs who switched up their over-seeding practices, from the article:
"Pinehurst will save seed, fuel, labor, water and transition costs (sod is needed in some shaded areas where the bermuda doesn’t grow) by not overseeding, which equals $250,000 to $300,000.?

Implement course and grounds Design Modifications To Reduce Inputs, including energy inputs. Convert golf course to low input grasses and landscape to low input plants.
The Sustainable Landscape Council is just one of many sources available that outline techniques in design of landscaped areas. They are a great resource for LEED Credits (What Is LEED???) within landscape design too, which is bound to become more popular within golf design soon.

Adopt standards and practices for golf course and Grounds Maintenance That Reduce Inputs, including energy inputs. Reducing maintenance inputs is likely the easiest to do because you can get creative and evaluate every area within the property. For example visit the blog of Chris Tritabaugh from Northland Country Club in Duluth, his efforts have led him to reduce inputs in a number of areas.

Upgrade all Buildings and Ground Areas with Energy Saving Measures. Upgrade clubhouse, maintenance building and other buildings with energy saving measures starting with the biggest energy users including heating and cooling systems, pumps and compressors. The R&A's Golf Course Management Site is an incredible resource, check out their 4 Point Plan on reducing energy consumption at the golf course. Also, the Golf Environment Organisation covers this topic with the GEO Certification.

Upgrade Irrigation Pumping System to Maximize Efficiency. This includes a pumping system that is designed to perform all required task at the best efficiency point with the irrigation system that it is supplying. Golf Course Irrigation: Environmental Design and Management Practices speaks a lot of the pumping system (Chapter 3), be sure to check it out below, thank you Google Books!

Reduce Irrigation, The irrigation pumping systems on golf courses can be 25% to 50% of the total facility’s electric consumption. A reduction in watering directly reduces the electrical energy use required for pumping. As supplemental irrigation is reduced, fertility requirements are reduced; mowing frequencies are reduced; and typically fewer pesticides are required. When the energy required for supply chain activities associated with the mining, manufacture and distribution of fertilizers are considered there is a further reduction in energy consumption. Potential pesticide reductions produce similar energy reductions when the supply chain activities are understood. Decreased mowing frequencies directly reduce fuel consumption and the energy required for the supply chain activities required to produce the equipment is reduced.

One of the best resources on the net for water conservation at golf courses is the Environmental Institute for Golfs website. Below are their list of water conservation BMP's linked to PDF's on their site.

Best Management Practices (BMP) - Expert Documents (How to)
Best Management Practices for Irrigating Golf course Turf
Best Management Practices for Turfgrass Water Conservation
BMPs Approach to Water Conservation on Golf Courses
BMPs: Critical For The Golf Industry
Environmental Management Practices for Golf Courses
Green Industry BMPs for the Conservation and Protection of Water Resources in Colorado


I like this list Tom. I would include switching from fuel to electric equipment too.

Oren Ahronson energy devices are the one which you need everyday to save you electricity bills. In our daily life, we rely on many materials. Wood, metal, glass and plastics all have environmental consequences. Think about the impact of every product you use. For example, the lighter an object, the less fuel is required to transport it. A heavy suitcase in the boot of a car will require the car to consume more fuel during its journey. The same goes for all product packaging. Therefore, buying food wrapped in lightweight materials thus helps the environment.