30 years from now, climate change could have such an impact on sustainable water supplies that lush, open fairways are a thing of the past.
We imagined a 2050 golf tournament that feels a bit more industrial …
A breathtaking eagle on the 18th hole – ricocheting down the iconic cooling tower – saw China’s Zhang Min score a sensational victory to become the first ever Extreme World Golf Tour champion.
The dramatic climax of Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station X-Open on Sunday marked the end of the new sport’s first season.
Fans were treated to stunning city golf courses played through punitive concrete landscapes as the traditional game heads into its new future, away from lush grassy pitches.
Min, 22, hit sublime golf shots throughout the weekend and was confident after winning the punishing Megawatt Valley X-Classic the week before – the multi-course event of the UK stage of the Tour, which took place on the site of the old electricity. substations across the Trent Valley.
Zhang’s speed, precision and agility – all essentials of urban golf that have been compared to “parkour with a golf ball” by experts – have seen her never fail to make it into the top 10 of all Tour events, which have included routes. in warehouses, industrial buildings, old farmland and even old sports stadiums.
She retained her form on the difficult course around disused Warrington Power Station, taking 82 shots in 47 minutes to give her 129 and breaking the previous course record of 133 set by Rico Banks in 2041.
This included an iconic Eagle at the 18th final hole, which ends under the last remaining cooling towers in the UK.
The towers were due to be demolished after the plant closed in 2020, but a successful campaign saw them listed by the UK government, protecting them from blasting.
The structures, which stand 114m high, mark the course as one of the most remarkable in the country, but also one of the most difficult, and a modest Min said she was amazed to have played the way she played. made.
“It’s so difficult here. You have all the rubble and broken concrete lying around you that can send your ball anywhere when it lands, so I was very lucky today,” a- she declared.
“When you think you land in the tall grass, you could just as easily hit the water without knowing, it’s so swampy out there on the outer holes. So, yeah, I was very lucky. they gave me my score I couldn’t believe it.
“And breaking Rico’s record is amazing. He was a real trailblazer who did so many good things to bring our sport into the mainstream.”
Scotsman Seri Yoshiyama was the best-placed Briton at Fiddler’s, the 39-year-old finishing eighth with 151.
“I thought I was going to break 150 again because I got around quickly but you can’t win when you take more than 100 shots,” said the disappointed veteran.
Russell Seymour is Founder and CEO of the British Association for Sustainable Sport
This story shows how sport, especially golf, can adapt to changing environmental and climatic conditions. Unpredictable weather conditions will complicate the management and maintenance of the courses.
In some parts of the world it may be due to drought and water scarcity, while in others it may be rain and thunderstorms. Some link routes are already facing physical incursions on the route due to coastal erosion.
While greens keepers are proficient and adaptable and can work on tees, fairways and greens, an increased frequency of bad weather (which could include extreme heat as well as wind, rain and storms) can do so. make it less attractive and, perhaps at times, even dangerous. to play.
It is unfortunate that in the not too distant future many golf courses may experience financial difficulties as the playing time available to recreational players, the life blood of most clubs, dwindles. If the opportunities decrease, it seems likely that the number of people playing “traditional” golf will also decrease.
As the human population increases and the economy becomes more localized, it is also conceivable that land use pressures will turn into increasing food, rather than recreation, so that golf courses become land.
But sport always adapts.
At the same time that traditional golf may decline due to climate disruption and land use changes, much of the industrial infrastructure that has dominated our horizons and power generation for decades will be decommissioned.
Likewise, large structures such as office buildings and even sports stadiums can become uninsurable, and therefore more viable, if they suffer from repeated storm damage, leading to their abandonment and decline.
History finds productive use of these abandoned industrial sites as city parks and recreational facilities. He imagines the new sport of Extreme Golf which uses these cityscapes in a fast new format of the old game.
Matt McGrath is the environment correspondent for BBC News
While Donald Trump was generally skeptical of climate change, he was happy to believe in the concept when it came to one of his golf courses in Doonbeg, Ireland.
An application of the Trump organization build a dike to protect the course cited the threat of coastal erosion linked to climate change.
The former US president is not alone in appreciating the threat of rising seas.
Many scientists believe that sea level is the most powerful human impact of a changing climate.
Recent research suggests that around 200 million people worldwide will be living below sea level by 2100.
Global warming affects the seas in several ways.
The most obvious are the melting glaciers and the enormous ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica.
The lesser known but most important aspect is the thermal expansion of water – like in a boiling kettle, the hotter the water, the more it expands.
Between 1993 and 2010, thermal expansion was responsible for about a third of the recorded sea level rise.
For golf, rising waters threaten many of the most beautiful courses in the world.
Montrose Golf Links in Scotland is one of the oldest in the world, dating back around 450 years.
But the seas are no exception to tradition and the course loses about 1.5 meters each year.
It may not seem like much, but owners fear for the long-term survival of the links if financial support for coastal protection is not available.
In addition to the threat of erosion, golf courses can struggle to maintain their lush green hues in a world of rising temperatures.
One of the biggest problems in golf is water. In 2018, the Cape Town Open moved further inland due to the drought – and a lot of work is underway to try to reduce the amount used.
Some courses react by seeking to grow hot-season herbs on their fairways.
Although these do not appear to be colored in winter, the grass is more tolerant of hot weather and reduces water consumption.
Radical solutions include reducing the number of holes on a course from 18 to nine.
A route in Vietnam has a 6.5 hectare (17 acre) paddy field crossing the middle of the property, which produced a crop of 28 tons in 2020.
This type of effort, which supports the local community and helps protect the environment, may well be the key to the game’s future survival in a much hotter world.