The following is from the Golf & Water: Case Studies in Water Stewardship from ASGCA Foundation, with support from Rain Bird and The Toro Foundation. The complete book of case studies may be found here.
Sand Hollow Resort
Architects: John Fought, ASGCA and Andy Staples, ASGCA
A new 27-hole golf resort in the red sands of Southern Utah needed to hold down water and energy use. The designers were asked to utilize the latest in sustainable and efficient construction standards to minimize the course’s environmental footprint.
Proposed question: What practices could be implemented to ensure this large golf facility in the middle of the Mojave Desert would conserve above average levels of water and energy, and maintain excellent playing conditions long-term?
The designers looked to take advantage of the natural characteristics of the land and soil, while utilizing gravity for pumping pressure, to save as many resources as possible.
Through the utilization of the existing sands found on site for hole construction including greens and bunkers, a minimalist build was achieved, and the need for drainpipe was eliminated due to the local soil’s natural percolation characteristics. Another beneficial quality of the local soil was its inherent mechanism to store water within its profile, allowing the already drought-tolerant bentgrass and dwarf, low-mow blue grasses selected for the courses, to grow much deeper roots. Further, by taking advantage of an elevated position on the property for a two million gallon water storage tank, the entire irrigation system was designed to be driven by gravity, which completely eliminated the need for a traditional storage reservoir, and a costly electricity-driven pump station. Irrigation sprinklers were installed on a 60-foot triangular spacing, minimizing water use along the edges of the playable turf. A state-of-the-art weather station was added to this delivery system which recalculated nightly run times, ensuring appropriate rates were applied to minimize runoff, minimize transport of fertilizers to the surface water, and maximize the absorption of rainfall.
By setting extremely high expectations for water and energy efficiency, while utilizing proven soil science, a high return on investment can be achieved by balancing upfront construction costs, and stabilizing management over the long term.
Due to the historic and ancient Paiute relevance of the site dating back to 1300 AD, the designers were required (and happy) to work with area archaeologists to preserve sites deemed worthy of cultural significance.