Course going eco-friendly making brown the new green in golf

Twin Lakes Golf Course is going through a gradual facelift.

Twin Lakes Golf Course is taking an eco-friendly approach to their course.

Twin Lakes Golf Course is taking an eco-friendly approach to their course.

Twin Lakes Golf Course is going through a gradual facelift — one that has faced criticism by some golfers who love a course that doesn’t just have a great playing surface, but looks great, too.

At Twin Lakes, brown is the new green in non-playing areas. And it’s those spots that have drawn the ire of some.

With less attention going to non-playing areas, where golfers want to keep the ball is looking gorgeously green.

“We like how it’s going,” said manager of business development/marketing for Twin Lakes Golf Kate Swanson. “There are some areas on the course that need some extra attention. The greens have never been in better shape.”

What Twin Lakes is doing isn’t new. New courses today are not built under the old standards. Among the courses doing this is Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club in Merritt, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore., and Chambers Bay, Wash., home for the 2015 U.S. Open. The process for the Twin Lakes makeover started in 2009 with the first objective to create a change in maintenance practices geared towards being environmentally focused. To help with this, Twin Lakes hired a golf superintendent, but they also looked to some experts, including Canadian pro golfer Richard Zokol, who helped create Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club. Next was determining the benefit of a healthier grass coming from this goal, which led to using less water, fertilizer, weed killers and pesticides in preparing the course for a positive golfing experience. Crews at Twin Lakes has had to train the grass.  Giving less water shocks the whole golf course and takes time for everything to adapt.

With Twin Lakes having defined playing areas through watering and fertilizing, the patterns inform the golfer of the best areas to maximize his or her scores. This has resulted in lower maintenance costs and has allowed Twin Lakes to price its golf more reasonably.

Approaching the midway mark of the process, Swanson said the ball doesn’t just land on the fairway at Twin Lakes Golf. It rolls. That is making for an easier game.

“The look is the most drastic,” she said. “At any other golf course you usually see wall-to-wall green. We have quite a few areas that are just brown. It’s quite a shock to people.”

While that doesn’t sound positive, management said the comments they are getting from their members is. Management realizes that change is always going to be criticized. They are doing its best to listen and explain the direction the course needs to go for it to be sustainable.

“It is understandable as our members want the best for the golf course and these critical thinkers ensure we take care of the product for them,” said Swanson, whose club is also known for giving back to the area through charity and allows juniors to play for free. “Currently we get feedback from golfers talking about a great score they achieved at Twin Lakes, and how enjoyable their round was.”