Drought is the Fiercest Enemy of California Golf Clubs

Golf in the 21st century faces several challenges—most frequently cited are the cost of the game, its difficulty, and the time it takes to play 18 holes. But enemy number one may be Mother Nature, specifically the growing scarcity of water.

The latest evidence comes from drought-plagued San Francisco where one of the most popular courses in the East Bay area has announced it will close this week. Roddy Ranch, a 17-year-old J. Michael Poellet design that had been hosting a healthy 40,000 rounds a year, can no longer sustain its water bill which is close to $600,000 and escalating at 8 percent a year.

“This isn’t a matter of golfers,” a club spokesman told the San Jose Mercury News. “If anything, the number of rounds has been going up.” Five other courses in the San Francisco area have shut their doors recently, each of them citing the cost/availability of water as a major reason.