Barona Creek Golf Club in Southern California has rolled out a turf-reduction project that saves water and reduces carbon footprint

In a voluntary, pro-active approach to water conservation and environmental stewardship, the Barona Creek Golf Club, located adjacent to the Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside, Calif. east of San Diego, announced an ambitious turf reduction project that will lower irrigation and maintenance needs to enhance its conservation of natural resources.  

Don King, Barona Creek’s executive director of golf operations, says the project will eliminate alternate tee boxes and convert 10 to 12 acres of out-of-play turf to waste bunkers or more natural landscape. These measures will address several important environmental issues ranging from reduced fuel and energy consumption to the use of fewer fertilizers and chemicals used for maintenance.  

“Barona’s commitment to protecting and preserving the environment has always been at the forefront of the golf industry, and moving forward with this turf reduction initiative our goal is to further reduce our carbon footprint,” he says.  

The multi-phased project also calls for limiting over-seeding to tees and roughs, lowering maintenance requirements by an additional 10 to 15 percent.  

King adds, “What makes this program even more important, especially in a dry, drought-prone region like San Diego, is the water savings that could run as high as 100 percent in those turf areas that will be eliminated or returned to native plantings.”  

In the face of continued drought conditions in the Desert Southwest, governments in California, Arizona and Nevada are requesting voluntary water use restrictions and limited acreage requirements on new construction and new golf course developments.  The Barona Band of Mission Indians is addressing the issue with an innovative and proactive approach that could result in a new trend for the golf industry.  

“The Barona Tribe has made a legacy commitment to preserving the natural resources on our reservation,” said Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians.  “It is our hope that the innovative environmental practices we have implemented at the Barona Creek Golf Club will serve as a model for the golf industry. And, as we watch the global climate changes, we also feel a responsibility to our Tribal members, the guests of our resort and our neighbors to do everything we can to conserve all natural resources. ”  

The PGA TOUR has also acknowledged Barona Creek for its conservation efforts.  

“Barona Creek Golf Club should be applauded for taking a very proactive approach in their turf reduction plans,” said Cal Roth, Senior Vice President of  Agronomy for the PGA TOUR. “Golf courses throughout the world need to look at their environmental issues and plan accordingly to ensure their courses meet their maintenance and conditioning goals. It is very admirable how Barona Creek has become a leader in improving both their sustainable landscape and carbon dioxide footprint.”  

According to Sandy Clark, the club’s golf course superintendent, Barona Creek already is leading the industry in water conservation with its advanced water reclamation plant, computerized irrigation system, sophisticated weather monitoring program and sustainable landscape plan.   

“This turf reduction plan will further reduce our water usage,” says Clark. “These water-saving innovations at Barona Creek are about more than self-preservation. They are also helping the environment and hopefully influencing the golf community-at-large.”  

The upshot for golfers, continued Clark, is that the golf course will remain open during the turf reduction and reseeding process and when completed in late spring, will result in even better course playing quality with enhanced natural surroundings.   

“Being more environmentally friendly and aesthetically appealing are not mutually exclusive terms.  We will still be green and gorgeous,” says Clark who was awarded the 2004 Environmental Leader of the Year by the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America and Golf Digest Magazine.  

Opened in 2001, the championship-caliber course was originally designed by Todd Eckenrode of Gary Roger Baird Design International.  Eckenrode now leads all design for Origins Golf Design and provided assistance for Barona’s turf reduction project.  

Located adjacent to the Barona Resort & Casino, Barona Creek is a 7,448-yard par 72 golf course with more than 100 multi-fingered bunkers and a series of lakes and ponds connected to the area’s naturally fed streams.  The course offers multiple sets of tees to accommodate players of all abilities.  It features more than 170 mature native oak trees transplanted from other regions of the Barona Indian Reservation.