San Diego's Golf Industry Makes Changes to Survive California Drought - NBC Southern California

San Diego's Golf Industry Makes Changes to Survive California Drought

California's drought is changing one of San Diego's major tourism components: Golf.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Local Golf Courses Adapting During Drought

    California's drought is now changing one of San Diego's major tourism components: Golf. NBC 7's Steven Luke explains how on Oct. 31, 2014. (Published Friday, Oct. 31, 2014)

    In the face of a statewide drought and new restrictions in water use, golf courses in San Diego County are undergoing renovations and changes to the style of play in order to stay in business.

    Aside from personnel, water is the most expensive part of a golf course operation. This summer, some courses reported water bills nearing $80,000.

    The Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club is a perfect example of how golf courses in San Diego must adapt to survive.

    They're just days into a $4.4 million dollar renovation, tearing out 50 acres of grass and replacing it with low water using native plants.

    By eliminating the grass in non-essential playing areas, course managers estimate the new landscaping will save upwards of 54 million gallons of water a year.

    Meantime other courses are closing down.

    "Most golf courses are going to what they call target golfing," said Howard Fujimoto, General Manager of Carmel Highland Golf Resort down the street.

    His course is closing next year, partly because of the statewide drought. He fears others will follow.

    "There's courses in the area already in the works that are going to be happening because of water,” he said.

    Starting this weekend - courses on San Diego city land will have to comply with new regulations limiting watering to three days a week.

    They can apply for more flexibility - but the tradeoff means they'll have to reduce their total water usage by an additional 5 percent

    The Rancho Sante Fe golf club and Del Mar Country club are also doing similar renovations, although they're staying open.

    Next year the north course at Torrey Pines will have 20 acres of grass removed as it moves a little closer to target golf.

    Golfers say target style makes a tough game even tougher but they also know it's the cost of staying open.