Climate change crisis: Golf courses on borrowed time as Earth's weather patterns become wilder
(CNN)The 30 or so golf courses in the Salt Lake County of Utah drink up around nine million gallons of water a day to stay pristine green -- that's more than 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Managing the turf on golf courses also means using carbon-intensive fertilizers, plenty of mowing and, in many cases, clearing forests or trees that were soaking up carbon-dioxide to make way for long tracts of fairway.
In other words, golf is a dirty sport that's wrecking the planet. But it doesn't have to be.
The impact of golf on the climate and environment has led to growing calls to make the sport more sustainable -- even to play on bone-dry courses, as golfing legend Tiger Woods has enjoyed.
And it's not just to save the planet, but to save the sport itself, as the climate crisis threatens to transform many courses into muddy swamps.
The president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), Jason Straka, told CNN Sport how the climate crisis has been affecting golf in flood-threatened Florida, and in Ohio and Utah, which have been hit by warmer-than-usual weather and even drought.
"Clubs never used to have to close after two-inch rain, now they do. They also experience sunny day flooding," said Straka.
In Miami, authorities are raising public drains to a minimum of 3.4 feet, but more than 50% of courses in the city are under this minimum, which rings alarm bells for Straka.
"If they don't go out and literally lift their footprint up in the air, they're going to be in a perpetually deeper and deeper bathtub," he said.
"If they think they have problems now, in 10 years, they're going to be a swamp."
But change will equate to cost, which is where golf's critics find their voice once more: courses are just not sustainable anymore.
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