The game of golf and its home courses are still unpopular with environmentalists. Although golf developments keep a green zone, climate change advocates say these nine and 18 holes of green space can potentially wreak havoc on an area’s water table.
But some companies are looking to make the sport more environmentally friendly by creating golf courses and resorts that operate without a carbon footprint.
The off-grid golf concept includes electric carts, battery-powered tools and greens maintenance vehicles, and plenty of car-charging ports in the parking lot.
Eco-friendly courses also include the installation of large-scale solar panels for a private company. Companies such as Austin-based Entero Energy help solar-transition properties and communities seeking energy independence. The energy and solar plant development company specializes in connecting with golf course facilities looking to embrace the environment while saving on utility bills.
Andrew Taft, Projects Director for Entero, insists that golf courses are always good candidates for the zero carbon footprint effort.
“Courses can make this conversion to electric golf carts, lawn mowers and landscaping equipment,” Taft says. “It also helps that golf courses typically have space for solar panels, such as the clubhouse roof, cart barn or large parking areas that can accommodate solar shelters.”
Taft points out that golf courses also use power during the day when solar power creates more power, making expensive battery storage less necessary. These golf courses are also suitable for transitioning to green sources, as patrons spend a lot of time playing and enjoying the 19th hole, making it easy to charge electric cars at the course’s parking areas.
For many years, a complete golf course solar transition was a pipe dream. Current technology now allows this, especially as batteries become cheaper and make the whole process more economically viable.
“Our typical part of the solution at Entero is to supply the solar panels that generate the electricity,” Taft explains. “However, we can also provide battery storage and charging stations for electric vehicles. We leave the choice of converting to electric golf carts, mowers and other equipment to the courses themselves.
Although there are properties owned by operators who seek to help the environment, economics remains a driving force in any zero carbon transition.
“The cost and difficulties of switching to green power all depend on how much power the course uses and how much green power management decides to install,” Taft says. “Courses with larger club houses and larger facilities use a lot more energy and therefore have to spend more. I would say investments range from $200,000 to $2 million, again depending on the amount of energy used by the course and the energy compensation that the property management seeks to obtain. »
While it’s still early days for green-powered golf, Taft thinks it will become more mainstream as engineering proliferates.
Advance Golf Management, based in Atlanta, specializes in transforming struggling courses and clubs into more modern and successful businesses. AGA Director Larry Galloway says the company is overseeing green energy transitions for several properties across the United States
“So far, we have installed solar power in three of our facilities,” says Galloways. “Hamilton Mill Golf Club – a private club in Atlanta’s Northeast market designed by Fred Couples – is one of the premier ones.”
AGM has also installed similar systems at the semi-private Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club and Bridlewood Golf Club, both located in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
“It made sense for us to invest in solar based on many factors, but primarily because of our own long-term view of our investments,” Galloway explains. “We want to reduce our paid energy consumption, and we only see that expense increase in the years to come we intend to own these properties.”
Galloway added that the company and its leaders also enjoy contributing to environmentally responsible decisions.
“We think more companies should prioritize this,” he says. “The first and second year tax deductions were also attractive as we were looking to reduce our debt. I would say 80% of that is making a good long-term business decision, and 20% is doing the right thing for the environment. »
Depending on how a golf business collects these tax credits and how much energy it uses, Galloway believes a solar installation will eventually pay for itself in about 10 years. Still, he doesn’t foresee the solar trend spreading widely in the golf world anytime soon.
“I don’t see all of our clubs doing this,” adds Galloway. “It’s quite an expensive initial investment, but it makes sense for our most profitable courses, including those that continue to grow in revenue over time.”
Back in Austin, Entero is trying to bring more courses into the green energy effort with its Carbon Free Golf Campaign – a “beta” effort to help golf properties understand their prime position to significantly reduce their carbon footprint or become carbon-free.
“The transition to green energy makes sense,” says Taft. “It will be good for the environment and the results of the courses, and we think golfers will appreciate it.”