GOLF COURSES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

 

THE BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OF GOLF COURSES

PROVIDE WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES
Golf courses provide a unique opportunity to create within their boundaries a 'Wildlife Sanctuary' to preserve and enhance an often rich variety of native birdlife, animals and vegetation, whilst in broader terms golf courses act as important 'links' of green space across a region.

PRESERVE OPEN SPACE AND REMNANT VEGETATION WITHIN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS
Golf courses within urban areas play an important role in the preservation of open space in our cities and the remnant indigenous vegetation serves to protect the gene stock of the native flora.

PROTECT TOPSOIL FROM DEGRADATION
Vegetation, particularly turfgrass, successfully controls water's erosive power. Research has shown that even during high rainfall periods turf retains up to 20 times more soil than traditionally farmed cropland, thus protecting the precious topsoils.

PROTECT WATER RESOURCES
Golf courses play a significant role in the management of water, aiding in the conservation and preservation of water resources and acting as a natural filter of stormwater and runoff. Turfgrass filters contaminants and traps sediments before they can enter common waterways. Modern computerised irrigation systems and improved turfgrass varieties allow courses to use less water more efficiently. A 150 acre golf course can also recharge the water table with a net 90 million gallons of rainwater each year, which is seven times more than it consumes.

REHABILITATE DEGRADED LANDSCAPES
Golf courses can provide a viable land use for land degraded over time by intensive land use or mismanagement, such as urban landfills, mines, farms, etc., and can return this land to a more natural state. Perhaps the most significant benefit is in providing a new use for this land with wide community benefits.

PROMOTE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL BEING
Golf provides its participants with the motivation to pursue outdoor exercise and exposes golfer to the positive benefits that an attractive landscape can contribute to the mental well being of its viewer. These benefits, together with the ability of the game to provide a temporary escape from the pressures of day to day life make golf a healthy pursuit for mind and body.

PROMOTE INDIGENOUS FLORA AND FAUNA
Golf courses provide an opportunity for a wide cross section of the community to experience the natural landscape, and the native flora and fauna.

IMPROVE AIR QUALITY AND MODERATE HEAT
Vegetation has the unique capability of improving the quality of air we breathe as well as converting carbon dioxide into life sustaining oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Research shows that an area of 180 square metres of turfgrass, grasslands, shrubs and trees produces enough oxygen for one person for one year. The average golf course therefore can sustain the oxygen requirements of around 4000 people per year. Turfgrass and trees have an ameliorating effect on the heat of an area especially in urban areas.

UTILISE AND TREAT WATER RESOURCES SUCH AS EFFLUENT, SEWERAGE AND URBAN RUNOFF
Golf courses face the reality that when striving for sustainability they must not only seek alternate water sources but more effective water usage/management practices. As the costs of potable water rises there is an economic incentive to supplement or replace potable water usage with effluent and/or storm water. The use of secondary treated effluent for golf course irrigation has an added advantage of providing up to 70% of the nutrient requirement needed to maintain turfgrass, lessening the need for chemical fertilisers. Use of effluent on golf courses also reduces environmental damage caused when unwanted effluent water is discharged directly into our rivers and oceans.

BEAUTIFY THE ENVIRONMENT AND AID COMMUNITY EDUCATION ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
Golf courses provide an opportunity to enrich the environment by housing a diverse and rich ecology. Significant ecosystems such as wetlands provide a valuable resource in terms of an educational facility for golfers, interest groups and our children. Guided walks can educate and alert participants to the environmental features within the course as well as within a broader regional context.

In addition to the above benefits, courses provide other important ecological and community assets. Golf courses are:-

  • Places for non-golf recreational activities such as jogging, walking and bird watching
  • Fire breaks: Turfgrass provides a buffer zone that slows the spread of bushfires.
  • Businesses that provide skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
  • Places for social interaction and community events.
  • Civic benefactors.
  • Keystone of a growing international industry.
  • Community improvements that add value to land, thus increasing local tax bases.