It goes without saying that water is extremely important to us. From the water that gives life to our greens and fairways to the reserves that fulfill our most basic human needs, there is little doubt that one of the most pressing issues of our time is the degradation and depletion of clean water sources. It has contributed to an extensive list of negative consequences, and today it has left the future of golf shrouded in uncertainty.
Back in 2013, the private-turned-public Escondido Country Club closed its doors indefinitely. The following year, San Luis Rey Downs Golf Club followed suit. Last year, the course at the former Carmel Highland Golf Resort and the most recent victim, Fallbrook Golf Club, were met with an equally dismal fate. And that's just San Diego alone. When stacked up next to the number of courses closing across California—not to mention the entire country—the results are staggering. High water costs, low participation, and the slew of pressures associated with the California drought have left an overwhelming number of superintendents with no choice but to call it quits. The future of the once-proud California golf community was under attack and that didn't sit too well with us.
When we took over the reigns at Goat Hill Park three years ago, we wanted to create a place that continued to serve our community. This was the venue where many of us grew up playing junior golf, and it was the home to a lot of people's greatest memories. Our intention was to create a place that was affordable and open to everyone, and we wanted to continue this legacy that so many great people helped create. But as more and more restrictions were placed on water use, it became increasingly important for us to explore sustainable alternatives, including an irrigation system that didn't depend on potable sources. When the opportunity presented itself, we jumped on it. Today we are proud to serve our wonderful community at Goat Hill Park using 90 percent recycled water.
“From the beginning, our mission at Goat Hill Park was to be socially and environmentally responsible in all aspects of our operations," said John Ashworth. "I’m ecstatic that we've completed this major process of retrofitting our irrigation system over to reclaimed water. We're saving roughly 30 percent on water costs, and it all wouldn't be possible without the Water Department of Oceanside and the City Council."
Over the years, we've learned the project at Goat Hill isn't just about us. Our reliance on water has placed a responsibility on each and everyone of us to do everything we can to ensure a healthy future for ourselves and generations to come. Of course, reversing the consequences of past bad habits will not happen overnight, but at least we can begin to mitigate them. We believe using recycled water is a step in the right direction toward ensuring the wonderful game of golf is there for future generations to enjoy.
We're reaching out the greater golf community to accept the socio-environmental responsibility and be the change you want to see in the world, starting with your daily choices. At worst, the golf community will continue to ignore the harm caused by the misuse of finite resources, leaving the future of golf in an extremely volatile position. At best, Goat Hill will become a model for courses around the world, where togetherness and sustainability replace exclusivity and carelessness.