SoCal golf courses adapt to new water restrictions amid drought

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Southern California golf courses are bracing for brown fairways as new water restrictions went into effect due to California’s drought emergency.

“There’s definitely going to be some brown there,” said Brandon Fox, PGA Golf Director for Rose Bowl Stadium. “Brown is the new green. We said that a few years ago.”

It’s hard to find a lot of brown at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena right now, but Fox says as summer progresses and less water is used, signs of drought will appear. Although he says the aim is to keep dry areas out of bounds and off fairways and greens.

According to Pasadena Water and Power, golf courses are required to either reduce their water use by 15% or find other ways to make up that difference.

Jeffrey Kightlinger, acting general manager of PWP, says 15% of a golf course’s water is a considerable amount.

Water use is measured in acre feet. An acre foot is the equivalent of a football field filled with water, one foot deep. Kightlinger says that’s enough water for three average households for a year, but just a fraction of what a golf course uses.

“Golf courses use hundreds, sometimes thousands of acre-feet,” he told Eyewitness News.

According to the California Department of Water Resources, golf courses fall into a category responsible for using 9% of all water in the state.

Fox says Brookside has already turned off watering in parts of the course that shouldn’t affect play and is using new technologies and procedures to reduce water use throughout the property.

“We’re going to be able to use some advanced maintenance agronomy practices,” Fox said. “With that, I think you’ll see surprisingly better course conditions even if the drought gets worse.”

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Michael C. Ford