‘Golf courses offer significant eco benefits’

By Alistair January 10, 2021 06:30

A US study of 135 golf courses in Minnesota has found that they offer major benefits to their local environment, particularly surrounding temperatures, pollinating, retaining stormwater nutrients and biodiversity.

The research could have major ramifications as it suggests that converting golf courses into estates dominated by housing, a trend in the UK in recent years, could be even more detrimental to the environment than had previously been thought.

Believed to be the biggest ever study conducted on the environmental impact that golf courses have on their communities, the USGA-funded ‘Community Values of Golf Courses’ project saw researchers at the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University compare and contrast the golf courses with five other land uses: natural areas, city parks, suburban residential zones, urban residential zones and industrial parks.

The researchers demonstrated that properly managed golf courses provide the greatest amount of cooling among land uses, are more supportive of pollinators than urban residential or industrial areas and retain more nutrients from stormwater runoff than suburban or urban residential areas.

They concluded that golf courses enhance surrounding communities in much the same way as city parks or open green spaces.

Correspondingly, the conversion of golf courses to residential or industrial use would sacrifice associated environmental value afforded to communities and could result in reduced biodiversity and increased temperatures and nutrient transport to surface and ground water, they added.

USGA CEO Mike Davis said: “It is critical that value is placed on the environmental benefits of golf courses.”

By Alistair January 10, 2021 06:30

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