According to Douglas Schroeder, director of golf services for the Parks and Recreation Department, the City’s main push is to be very careful with water usage and to apply as little fungicides and pesticides as possible. In addition, all five courses have established isolated spots away from streams and stormwater drains for washing vehicles and equipment.
On the courses and adjacent to them, natural areas are being expanded and planted with drought-tolerant native grasses, purple coneflowers, milkweed and other indigenous plants to create habitat for wildlife. One course, the Shoal Creek Golf Course at 89th Street and Shoal Creek Parkway, has even been designated as a “Certified Audubon Sanctuary” through the International Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. In addition to a driving range and 18-holes, Shoal Creek offers thick stands of trees, tall prairie grasses and numerous nesting boxes to welcome birds and other creatures.
In the future, Schroeder plans to replace the City’s fleet of 345 gas-powered golf carts with electric carts and some 40 gas-powered mowers with hybrid models where a small gas engine powers electric blades.
Bigger changes will have to wait until public attitudes shift, says Schroeder, who notes that members of some private golf courses have voted to go greener by embracing browner grounds—the way golf was played in the 1950s and ’60s before modern chemicals and irrigation systems were prevalent. The U.S. Golf Association and the Professional Golfers’ Association have an ongoing national campaign to encourage this viewpoint.
“It’s going to be a slow process,” Schroeder says. “Most people still expect to see soft, plush monocultures of green grass, even though that’s no more natural around here than the streets themselves.”
More information about KC Parks Golf Courses.