Corey Pavin on Taking a Shot at Making Golf Greens More Green
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Corey Pavin on Taking a Shot at Making Golf Greens More Green

By JOHN SCOTT LEWINSKI
Wed, Jun 26, 2024 8:53amGrey Clock 4 min

Though golf courses offer long acres of lush grass, tall trees and rippling ponds, they’re not the most popular venues among environmentalists. Citing their effect on wildlife and the potential impact on a venue’s water table, those worried about conservation and sustainability find much to dislike on any 18-hole tract.

For more than a decade, 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin has worked to improve golf’s relationships with the world hosting it. Known as one of the more amiable and self-effacing players on the PGA Tour (and, currently, the Champions Tour), the 64-year-old native of Southern California remains one of the leading proponents of sustainability in golf.

During preparations to play the 2024 Senior PGA Championship at Michigan’s Harbor Shores—a course built on a reclaimed industrial dumping ground in Benton Harbor—Pavin explored what brought him into the sustainability movement and why he continues to push more environmentally responsible golf courses.

Penta : You claimed a Major Championship, won 15 times on the PGA Tour and captained a Ryder Cup team during four decades of professional golf. How did you find an interest in sustainability along the way?

Corey Pavin: I grew up in California, so recycling was always a big deal there before the movement expanded across the United States and around the world. So, I came into golf already aware of the need to recycle and look after the environment.

What brought you into a leadership position working toward environmental sustainability in golf?

I do most of this work due to my association with Dow Chemical. I’ve been with them for 15 years now, and they started a big program for sustainability and recycling. They’ve done a lot to make me aware of what needs to be done and helped me to reduce my own carbon footprint. … I also worked with the nonprofit GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf, which is dedicated to making golf and the golf community ecologically friendly.

Have you found there to be tension between the sport of golf and the environmentalist movement?

I knew growing up the environmental effects of golf and golf courses was a huge concern and a cause of a lot of conversation. There were debates over the chemicals used on a course and how they can affect groundwater and other elements.

I think a lot of strides are being made with what materials get used on a golf course with an eye toward what effect they could have on the environment. There’s been a lot of work in the last two decades to make courses less harmful.

What advancements have golf operations made in course design, building, and management?

First of all, there’s been a push for years now with course designers to avoid bringing in any outside species such as grass or other plants that could change the ecology of an area. You’re seeing so many more courses now that use only native elements. There’s also been a lot of strides made on how courses are maintained, what grasses they use, and how the greens crews treat the grasses.

Is it difficult to balance environmental factors with efforts to provide a quality golf course?

You want to design and build a quality course and keep it in good shape, but we have the means now to eliminate negative environmental impact from a golf course being built or operating. For example, concepts such as using recycled, non-potable water for the grass or choosing salt-resistant grasses that can be fed with brackish seawater keep fresh water preserved and entirely off the course.

Beyond water usage, what positive effects can a modern golf course have on the environment?

You also have to consider the adjacent land near a course. The presence of golf near a forest or marshland can lead to an effort to preserve that space that wasn’t a priority earlier.

Are you seeing efforts to update or reimagine golf courses built before the environmental movement came to the fore?

Yes, there are so many modification ideas a golf course can use to limit or reduce the amount of grass that needs to be watered. I’m seeing courses add natural waste areas of plants that require very little water or more sandy areas that require no water at all. Over the last decade, I’ve seen courses all around the world shifting to those designs. Beyond saving water, those ideas also reduce the amount of necessary maintenance and save energy.

Way back when, crews used to just bulldoze everything and transform an area into a course without giving thought of what that could do. Once it became clear that we could build golf courses that can involve more of the natural habitat and disturb much less of the natural environment that was already in place, I think it became obvious there was no reason to design or build courses any other way.

As a player, does it just make you happy seeing these sustainable changes?

I love seeing it, not just because I’m aware of how important clean water is, but because I’ve always liked golf courses that have a natural look to them.

The 2024 Senior PGA Championship was at Harbor Shores this year—a course developed on wetlands reclaimed from an industrial waste site. Could we see golf actually restoring the environment in cases like we find in Benton Harbor, Mich.?

I think that’s a great example of responsible course building and management. Initially, [Harbor Shores] was more a case of recycling and reclamation, but it operates now within those wetlands as a sustainable model. We can see more cases of dump sites becoming courses because you’re dealing with land that can’t really be used for much else. Once the ground is cleaned and treated, I can’t think of any better place to build a golf course because just the act of creating the venue cleans that garbage from the land.

We can now make golf courses that look like they were always supposed to be there from the beginning.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.



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The lavish Beverly Hills property hit listing sites on Thursday, months after rumours began that the couple, who are reportedly estranged , were shopping the home around only a year after buying it for nearly $61 million.

The roughly 5-acre property—which is in a gated community and spans a massive 38,000 square feet—includes an indoor sports court with an adjacent gym and games room, according to the listing with Santiago Arana of the Agency. The firm declined to comment.

Lopez and Affleck paid $60.8 million for the compound in 2023.
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Built in 2000, the house has 12 bedrooms and a whopping 24 bathrooms. The resort-sized property has the amenities to match, including a V-shaped pool with views over the surrounding hills, a detached two-bedroom guardhouse and a 5,000-square-foot guest penthouse, according to the listing.

Listing images of the house show that Lopez and Affleck have spent the past year warming up what were fairly white-washed interiors when they purchased the home. There’s now a rich, green-painted dining room, hardwood floors and carpeted over cold, polished-stone flooring.

The couple, who got married in 2022 after reuniting some 20 years after they called off their engagement in the early 2000s, purchased the megamansion following a house hunt that went on for several months, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Representatives for Lopez, 54, and Affleck, 51, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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