Today's long, lush courses may soon be as outmoded as roadside diners. Economic and environmental considerations will likely prevent generous watering in the future, explains Houston's Joseph S. Finger, a course architect, in the May Golf Digest.
Projected water shortages lead him to believe golf will gravitate back toward more natural layouts, the sparingly manicured kind still found in England and Scotland. Instead of tee-to-green carpets of grass, the fairways may consist of watered landing areas interrupted by less well-groomed stretches of semi-rough or infrequently mowed "fairway" grass.
Besides cutting maintenance costs, these courses, with their emerald islands, will shift the golfer's attention "from pure length and strength to placement, finesse, and judgment," according to Finger.
Good aim may be particularly important if, as he predicts, greens become smaller. His forecast calls for them to shrink from the 7,000-mon now, to ones in the 4,500- to 5,000-foot range.