Turfhugger has hosted a couple posts (here and here) by Joe Jemsek, the Chicago area Golf Course Architect whose designs reach beyond our industries expectations to consider sustainability as a principle, not a catch phrase.
Turfhugger: To what degree has environmental issues affected your role through this past decade?
Joe Jemsek: That's difficult to say. In the beginning of the decade golf course architects were focused on wildlife corridors, wetlands, and protecting storm water. We had to almost encapsulate the course to be good stewards. Today I think I hope the that in the future we are allowed to integrate the course into the surrounding landscape.
Turfhugger: What major changes will we see in the next Ten Years that will affect your roll most significantly?
Joe Jemsek: It's been suggested that golf needs to change to fit our fast paced lives, but I don't see 6 hole courses or shorter routings becoming the norm. As for environmental design and maintenance, I think people want to do the right thing, but until there is some measurable economic benefit, operators will continue to do what ever is in the best interest of the bottom line. I hate to be so cynical, but there are so many operators that are just holding on that nobody can afford any added expense. Until then I think the Buzz word will be CONSERVATION. People can see immediate results with water, energy, chemical, & labor conservation. Additionally I hope the golf course industry jumps into alternative energy sources like wind and solar, where there is some established pay back and would help improve the sustainability of courses long term.
But maybe the biggest advancement we could make in the next 10 years would be artificail turf courses. I really think that urban course or course on the edge could convert to artificial teeing and putting surfaces. I see it as a way to improve conditions while keeping control of costs. I'm not suggesting tearing the greens at pebble and resurface with sport turf, but we have all played at the local muni and though putting on the shag carpeting at home would provide a better test of golf. This isn't a solution for resorts and private country clubs, but it's a real soultion for troubled facilities.