Model for Sustainability: Las Vegas Golf Courses
By mustang6560 on 4/26/11
Las Vegas is located in the middle of a desert. Yet, Sin City has some of the nicest golf courses in the world - it is even considered a golfing destination.

If you've ever wondered how this was possible - considering Las Vegas only gets an average 4.5 inches of rain per year - know this. At a typical golf course, it takes 2,507 gallons of water per four-some per day to maintain the lush fairways and greens. That's 139 gallons per person per round.
To make golf possible in Las Vegas, you have to irrigate the dusty soil with the same amount of water that California's Imperial Valley requires to grow much of the nation's winter vegetable crop. But if the water-requirement for Las Vegas golf courses is astonishing, it actually contains some good news.
Since the city's only water supply - Lake Mead - is nearly half empty and the federal government strictly enforces how much water the city is allowed to take, they've had to change the way people use and think about water usage from top to bottom.

To cut down on water usage, golf courses now water using "re-use" water instead of purified water and they tried to eliminate as much grass on the course as possible. This not only saves water but it also gives the course a distinct desert-feel. In the article I read about this issue, they used Angel Park as the example. 15 years ago, they were using 640 million gallons of purified water per day to water the course. They've cut that 40% so they are only using 376 million gallons and they no longer use drinking water.

The city also implemented new laws that made it illegal for new homes to have a front lawn. In fact, the water authority is paying people $40k to take out their front lawn if they already have one. That's not a bad gig. It's also illegal to for your sprinkler system to spray water on the sidewalk and to water your car without a hose nozzle.

This is a start, but Las Vegas sounds like it still has a long way to go. Maybe they should try to invent a different type of grass that requires less water to grow because using 376 million gallons is still a lot of water. Vegas has over 60 courses, so as a whole, the courses require somewhere north of 22 billion gallons per year.



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[ comments ]
Backquak says:
I wonder how artificial grass would hold up on a golf course. no more water usage but they would have to vacuum the greens and fairways. Has anyone ever tried this on a golf course?
4/26/11
 
mustang6560 says:
I've had a discussion about this before. Not sure it's practical for everywhere, but for somewhere like Vegas where you only need grass for the tee box, part of fairway and green, it could work.
4/26/11
 
mustang6560 says:
Looks like there is one golf course with synthetic grass. It's called Zilzie Bay in Australia:

www.zilziebay.com.au/golf-and-leisure
4/26/11
 
Backquak says:
I guess the question would be, would a synthetic green hold a full shot? or would it bounce off? and could they move the pin location? I'm sure they have a few different pin locations on each hole with plugs or something, right? If the synthetic turf holds up to the abuse and allows the ball to perform properly, I think Vegas would jump on it, just turn the mowers into vacuums and save water.
4/26/11
 
bobhooe says:
some people hate hitting off mats, I tend to like it. if I never ended up in a bare spot in the fairway or a divot I could knock 4 strokes off my round. Get more roll out of drives as well. who cares if it reminds me of the Radio Head video for "fake plastic trees".
4/26/11
 
Kurt the Knife says:
it stupid to try to maintain a golf course in a desert.
simple.
4/26/11
 
TWUES17 says:
Distinct desert feel = hitting off rocks if you aren't in the fairway. That said, the Wolf Course at Pauite (pictured?) was a pretty sweet time.
4/26/11
 
bobhooe says:
looks cool but they call the bar the 19th hole. on a 9 hole course wouldnt it just be called the 10th hole?
4/26/11
 
bkuehn1952 says:
I am with KTK, building golf courses in the desert is stupid. Same with building a ski slope in Dubai. Just because we can build something doesn't mean we should. If you have a shortage of water, why create facilities that exacerbate the problem? It used to be that if one wanted to gamble, you went to Vegas, and if one wanted to play golf, depending on the season, one went to Michigan or Florida. Now we have casinos in Battle Creek and golf courses in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
4/26/11
 
ajbaird90 says:
They even fill the lakes at Angel Park with the "re-use" water. Signs are posted. Do not retrieve balls hit into water.
4/26/11
 
mjaber says:
I'm working on a design for a putting green for my yard using synthetic grass. I've got a few ideas to give it more of a real grass feel, but I won't divulge them at the moment, as I have not gone through the patent process yet. If it works, I'll sell the instructions to the oobers for cheap, before I start licensing the patent out. :)
4/26/11
 
sjduffers says:
Is it just me or the math does not work? How can 139 gallons per person per hole equate to 376 millions gallons per DAY? Or 22 billion gallons per DAY for all of Las Vegas courses?? This is clearly per YEAR. That's still a whole lot of water by the way... and it's a good thing lots of golf courses are using re-use water.

However, it's no wonder that the general public does not understand public issues. They have no concept of large numbers at all: they can tell a million from a billion or a trillion! ;-)
4/26/11
 
falcon50driver says:
Senator Everett Dirksen supposedly once said "a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about some big money."
4/26/11
 
sjduffers says:
Yeah, but that was quite some time ago... Nowadays a billion does not go as far as it used to: just ask all the billionaires, lol!
4/26/11
 
Pappybro says:
The issue with synthetic grass is that it doesn't hold up long-term to the desert sun.

As far as "not building in the desert" - it's Vegas, baby.
4/26/11
 
indigno says:
What happens in Vegas...
4/27/11
 
mustang6560 says:
@sjduffers- yea, it's 22 billion per year.
4/27/11
 
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