Golf in a drought: Obama to spend Father's Day golfing in California

President Obama plans to spend this weekend golfing in Palm Springs, Calif. But what about California's drought? 

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
In 2009, President Barack Obama watches the ball after making a putt on the ninth green during his golf match at Mid-Pacific County Club in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama plans to spend this weekend golfing in Palm Springs, Calif.

President Obama plans to spend this weekend, including Father's Day, golfing in California.

Obama plans to be in Palm Springs on Saturday and Sunday, where he typically favors two private courses — the Sunnylands estate and Porcupine Creek, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison.

As California grapples with a drought crisis, the Associated Press reports that the courses in the desert oasis of Palm Springs have been criticized for their water use. 

White House spokesman Eric Schultz responds that many courses have taken water mitigation steps aimed at conservation. Mr. Schultz added that Obama discussed government efforts to deal with the drought during a private meeting with California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday while in San Francisco. reported in February 2014 when Obama played golf in the area:

The 124 golf courses in the Coachella Valley consume roughly 17 percent of all water there, and one quarter of the water pumped out of the region’s at-risk groundwater aquifer, according to the Coachella Valley Water District. Statewide, roughly one percent of water goes to keep golf courses green. Each of the 124 Coachella Valley courses, on average, uses nearly 1 million gallons a day due to the hot and dry climate, 3-4 times more water per day than the average American golf course. ...

Local golf officials realize they have a problem and are working to reduce their consumption. Water utilities are trying to transition the courses to using non-potable reclaimed water, instead of groundwater, for irrigation. In recent years, the 200-acre Sunnylands has cut back on the amount of turf grass and installed a more efficient irrigation system, according to a press release from the course operators. The course has prepared to transition to an as-yet-unfinished city-wide reclaimed water system.

And The Associated Press also reported that California golf courses have been making changes to conserve water:

Pressed by the four-year dry spell and state-mandated water cuts, some of the finest courses in California are taking such steps as tearing out the grass in places where it won't affect the game, planting drought-resistant vegetation, letting the turf turn brown in spots and installing smart watering systems.

"The new buzzword in the industry is 'Brown is the new green.' We can't provide the same kind of product as we'd like to anymore," said Mike Williams of Hidden Valley Golf Club in Norco. "Everybody can't play on a lush green surface like the Masters."

Obama is an avid golfer. In March, he took a "golf buddies" trip to Florida and spent the weekend playing with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning and former sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, and Cyrus Walker, a cousin of Obama's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, the White House said.

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