The Most Earth-Friendly Golf Courses

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The Most Earth-Friendly Golf Courses

April 21, 2015

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ken May

Photo By: David Cannon/Getty Images

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Bald Head Island GC

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Tim Powers

Photo By: Tim Powers

Photo By: Tim Powers

Photo By: Tim Powers

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Photo By: Jim Mandeville

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Drier conditions that play firm and fast are a hallmark of an environmentally-friendly course, such as Honors Course near Chattanooga. The less water, fertilizer and pesticides applied, the better for all.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Green grass can still be compatible with the environment.  Pete Dye's famed Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic uses Paspalum turf for tees, fairways and greens. It thrives on the sort of briny water found along coastlines.

Photo By: Ken May

As Pinehurst No. 2 demonstrated during last year's men's and women's Open, fairways irrigated solely by rainfall can still provide championship conditioning. The replacement of Bermudagrass rough with sand and native plants was also a statement.

Photo By: David Cannon/Getty Images

Any course with a sand base can drastically reduce its amount of irrigated, mown rough. West Palm Beach Golf Club did so five years ago; it now plays as it did when it first opened in 1947.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Another example of recent turf removal is Bald Head Island Golf Club on an island along the North Carolina coast. If anything, exposed sand and native plant enhances playability while saving water and money.

Photo By: Bald Head Island GC

Barona Creek, near San Diego, won a Green Star award from Golf Digest in 2011 in part for its decision to quit maintaining areas between tees and fairways.  Forward tees never have a forced carry over rough, but back tees do.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Barona Creek is so committed to the environmental movement that it even offers preferred parking for golfers driving alternative fuel vehicles.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Golf Digest's Best New Course of 2014, Gamble Sands in central Washington, uses drought-tolerant fescue grasses throughout in efforts to make the course sustainable and playable.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Environmentally-friendly courses are integrated into their surrounds, not superimposed upon them. The Dunes Course at The Prairie Club in central Nebraska is a prime example.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Another example of treading lightly on the landscape is the Bandon Dunes complex in Oregon, Golf Digest's Green Star winner in 2012. This is the resort's 13-hole par-3 course. Note the bunkers are less than perfectly manicured.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Golfers regularly play through flocks of wild turkeys at Little River Inn on the California coast. An environmentally-friendly course is also one that provides a healthy habitat for wildlife.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

There are spots at Little River Inn, like this one just off the sixth fairway, where encounters with wildlife are up close and personal.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Another public course dedicated to wildlife preservation is Crystal Springs Golf Club south of San Francisco. For its efforts, it was presented an Environmental Leaders in Golf award in 2012.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

The variety of wildlife found at Crystal Springs is remarkable.

Photo By: Tim Powers

Herons can be spotted along the water hazards at Crystal Springs.

Photo By: Tim Powers

Redtail hawks patrol Crystal Springs from perches atop snags and old trees.

Photo By: Tim Powers

Golfers straying well off Crystal Springs fairways often encounter velvet-topped bucks.

Photo By: Tim Powers

Another way to save fuel and labor is to use sheep to mow steep roughs, as is done at Dairy Creek Golf Club in San Luis Obispo, California.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

Trump Links Ferry Point in the Bronx, N.Y., an environmentally-sustainable landfill golf course, is fully open for play in 2015.

Photo By: Jim Mandeville

Equally anticipated is the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay near Tacoma, Wash., built from an abandoned gravel mine using fescues grasses on tees, fairways and greens. Watered solely by nature, it'll probably be greener in June than it was last August.

Photo By: Ron Whitten

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