Water conservation takes center stage at the U.S. Open

A U.S. Open is noted for being the toughest test in golf. But there was a different look to the recent hard set-up at the Pinehurst No. 2 course. In fact, there were more conversations about the spectacular renovation of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore than Martin Kaymer’s run-away victory. And showcasing the efforts of Crenshaw and Coore were GCSAA Class A members Bob Farren, CGCS, director, grounds and golf course management at Pinehurst, and Kevin Robinson, CGCS, superintendent at Pinehurst No. 2.

Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director, sent a clear message for the future look of golf courses in this country at the organization’s pre-championship press conference.

“We have to start to train golfers to say less water is good, and have maintenance up the middle,” Davis said. “What happens out in the roughs is that you will use less water, mow it less, use less fertilization, and that’s a good thing.”

One of the advantages of the renovation to No. 2 is that it now uses just 15 million gallons of water per year as opposed to 55 million gallons before.

“That’s hugely important,” said Davis. “We think long-term that water is going to be the biggest obstacle to the game of game; more than participation, more than anything. It’s not going to be a question of cost. It’s going to be a question of can you get it?”

Some of the industry trade publications included a piece last week about the future of golf courses with less water in this country. Ron Sirak of Golf World, Brad Klein of Golfweek, and even George Willis of the New York Post were among those writing favorably about the new Pinehurst look.

At week’s end, SportsIllustrated.com offered a round-table discussion, with every panelist being in favor of the less-watered look.

Editor Cameron Morfit was in favor of the Pinehurst look “because it makes sense both financially and environmentally. I liked the way the course looked; it wasn't such a manipulation of nature.”

And writer Alan Shipnak agreed, saying, “Water is going to usurp oil as this century's most valuable resource. Lush, green, overly fertilized courses are going to become increasingly rare, which is fine by me.”

The message is clear. And the USGA will have chance to drive home the message again in 2015 at Chambers Bay in the Seattle area. It is another golf course where firm and fast will trump lush and green.

 

Watch: Golf Channel coverage

GCSAA President Keith Ihms, CGCS, talks with Golf Channel about Pinehurst No. 2
Bob Farren, CGCS, discusses Pinehurst's renovation