The Glendale, Calif. club expects to reduce annual water consumption by 25% by using a sand-and-rock mixture with native plants, primarily in rough areas. The changes cost $2.3 million and took four months to install, with as many as three holes closed at a time.
As part of a major water-conservation project, about 26 acres of lush green turf on the golf course at Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, Calif. has been swapped with new landscaping made of a sand-and-rock mixture planted with California native, drought-tolerant plants, the Glendale (Calif.) News-Press reported.
The conversion will translate to about a 25% annual reduction in water consumption for the 93-year-old club, according to the club’s management, as state mandates continue to pressure cities to reduce usage in the face of an ongoing drought, the News-Press reported.
Most of the sacrificed lawn was part of the rough and not typically where a golf ball would land for most players, it was noted.
“The distance between the tee box and where the ball typically lands— all that underneath that air time—does not need to be grass,” Sunder Rumani, a member of Oakmont CC’s Board of Directors, told the News-Press. “You’re not bowling, so you don’t need to touch the ground all the way.”
Club member Jack Hudes, however, noted that he still has to try to drive the ball out of the new natural landscaping.
“If you stink like I do, you take some bad shots…I’m not supposed to, but it happens. It’s my fault, not the course’s fault,” he joked.
Hudes and other golfers from the club were kept in the loop from the time management started kicking the idea around of installing the new landscaping last July, the News-Press reported. The club’s Board ultimately voted on making the change to the 105-acre course.
Town hall meetings were held, and while Rumani acknowledges some doubts were expressed, members like Hudes say the course’s grounds actually look more appealing now and he appreciates the club’s proactive effort to help the state deal with its water-management crisis.
“The public’s perception of golf courses, if they would continue to use water the way they have been, is going to be very poor,” Hudes said. “I think we were just ahead of the game, and I’m very proud that we are.”
Some holes on Glendale’s only 18-hole golf course are covered more by the new landscaping than others, the News-Press reported.
Oakmont first experimented with turf replacement back in 2008 when it substituted six acres of grass, Scott Heyn, the club’s General Manager, told the News-Press.
The recent landscaping changes came at a cost of about $2.3 million for the club, Heyn said, and as many as three holes at a time were closed off during the four-month installation period. While the new material itself took up a portion of the cost, another big chunk was the price of reshaping the golf course’s irrigation system, he explained.
The overall motivation for the project, Heyn said, was to be a good neighbor in the community by cutting reliance on a local resource not just during the current drought, but for any more dry periods that lie ahead.
“We’ve preserved some of the past, and made it better for the future,” he said.