A turf reduction project developed by Jason Straka, ASGCA, and Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design, is cutting water use by 25% at Los Robles Greens Golf Course in Thousand Oaks, California.

Ventura Country Star newspaper reports:

Ohio-based architect Jason Straka developed a comprehensive plan designed to reduce the course’s annual water usage by approximately 25 percent.

Straka, whose background is in environmental design, drew up a plan that took the course’s original 85 acres of irrigated area and essentially reduced that number by 30 percent, taking out 30 acres of turf and replacing it with drought-resistant native plants and mulch. A new irrigation system that reduces and better monitors water usage was also installed.

While lowering water usage was the initial focus, Straka said it didn’t take long for everyone to start thinking about the project in larger terms.

“Once you take the turf out, you not only reduce the water you’re using but you also reduce amount of fertilizer you use, and with less areas to maintain you reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to do maintenance,” Straka said. “The city wanted to set an environmental precedent and do something that could set a standard for other groups to follow.”

Most of the turf that is not dedicated to fairways, tee boxes and greens has been taken out, replaced by wither native plants, mulch or a combination. Bunkers have been redone, with many of them featuring a more rustic look that in some cases include native grasses and plants melting into the sanded areas.

The famed Pinehurst No. 2 was the model for the project, so Straka and some of the crew visited the North Carolina course and spent the day with the course’s grounds crew to learn about building bunkers, widening fairways and incorporating native plants.

The complete Ventura Country Star article can be seen here.