Photo via JustinTimberlake.com
Love hitting the links but hate the environmental damage? You're not alone: Golfing is one of the most popular hobbies around, but the footprint of the courses--from constant grass watering (one course can use up to 30,000 gallons a day) to extensive land development to all the chemicals that go into that crisp green color--mean it poses more hazards than a sand trap. But as green goes mainstream, more and more courses are keeping the earth in mind as they plan, build, and remodel their front and back nines. So break out the biodegradable golf tees and try any of these five courses for a driving and putting spot that's up to par.
1. Mirimichi, Millington, Tennessee
Before he was an international pop star, Justin Timberlake was out on the greens with his dad at a golf course outside Memphis, learning how to hit a ball. More than a decade later, that golf course was on the market--so Timberlake bought it, renamed it Mirimichi, and refurbished it into the country's first Platinum-certified LEED course. In addition to solar powered golf carts and drainage systems that cut down on water use by incorporating rainwater, the property is home to a LEED-certified clubhouse and other buildings, and a walking trail includes information about renewable energy and other natural resources. The course is also a Certified Audubon International Classic Sanctuary, which means the owners made wildlife conservation and habitat rehabilitation a priority--and will participate in an annual audit for accountability.
2. Kabi Golf Course, Boreen Point, Australia
Golfers Down Under can step out for a day at Kabi Golf Course, a 100-percent organic property that doesn't use the fertilizers, pesticides, and chemicals that make other courses so damaging. Biological Farmers of Australia certified the course based on soil samples and water analysis--and the land isn't just used for putting: Your post-round lunch will include meat, vegetables, fruit, and herbs grown on the property, and the 1,200 fruit trees bloom with oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes that are also sold to local markets. Pit stops take you to compost toilets that use very little water, and your walk through the 18-hole, par 3 course might just get you a glimpse of the black cockatoos, kangaroos, wallabies, and other local fauna that call Kabi home.