One of the points raised in my Obama-WPA piece for Golf World revolved the idea of taking turf out of play and in general, irrigating less (perhaps with government incentives, as pointed out in this example). I close the piece wondering if golfers can actually accept less green in the name of Green.
I asked Tom Naccarato, who does digital photo work for architects and clubs looking to simulate what something will look like, to work on a couple of Torrey Pines photos I took last year. Because I can't think of a course with more acreage that needs to be converted to non-irrigated native. (There was one choice spot right of the 7th fairway where irrigation has been turned off and Tom used that for the rough look you'll see in the photo below).
While I was walking around Torrey prior to the Open I met consultant Andy Slack, the irrigation guru brought in to try and right the troubled irrigation system at Torrey. When asked how many acres on the property could be converted to non-irrigated without impacting play, Slack said he felt that 50 acres was an easy target. I would agree. And the ensuing cost savings in irrigation, energy and man power of reducing 50 acres would be incredible.
Furthermore, does this really look so bad? I know the PGA Tour would have a coronary because there isn't full turf coverage and many golfers would wonder what's wrong, but this would seem to me where golf is going to have to if it wants to survive and reclaim some of its "native golf" roots. Click to enlarge Tom Naccarato's digital enhancement of No. 14 at Torrey Pines: