5 Golf Courses Up to Environmental Par

4. Vineyard Golf Club, Edgartown, Massachusetts

Photos via Vineyard Golf Club

The 235-acre Vineyard Golf Club opened on Martha's Vineyard in 2002, after a struggle for permission that ended, in part, with requirements that the turf be cared for organically to ensure the quality of water on the island. The course was designed with an open layout that requires fewer than 70 acres of turf, and superintendent Jeff Carlson chose grasses sturdy enough for the local climate. Endangered moths find a home in the 25-acre environmental preserve while walking trails on the property let locals get in their exercise, and a waste water management program keeps the greens hydrated. Members of the club also make annual contributions to the Vineyard Golf Club Foundation, which then distributes the money to local charities and environmental organizations.

5. Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club

Photo via Machrihanish Dunes, Argyll, Scotland

Scotland is known for its golf courses, and now avid players can tee off at Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club, which touts itself as the first course built on the country's west coast in a century. It is also the first ever built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, an area preserved by Scottish Natural Heritage because of its unique landscape, flora, or fauna. The owners designed the course around the natural ebb and flow of the land, which meant changes to the terrain were minimal, and swapped constant mowing for roaming sheep who'll keep the greens trimmed as they eat. Pesticides, chemicals, artificial irrigation systems, and heavy machinery are all prohibited on the course, and an on-site ecologist made sure that no plants were imported during building. The idea is to get back to the basics of the game: As course architect David McLay Kidd says, "We are returning to golf how it should be played; no longer is it a gentle walk in a garden, it will be a full-fledged mountaineering expedition at this course." (Via Greenopia)

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Tags: Energy Efficiency | Green Building | Pesticides | Preservation | Tourism