Pebble Beach: Serious about sustainability

18th Green Pebble Beach Golf Links

The owners of America’s top-rated public course, Pebble Beach Golf Links, say investing in environmental programs protects local communities, its legacy, and iconic clifftop setting.

Located in Carmel Bay on Northern California’s Monterey Peninsula, U.S. Open venue Pebble Beach hosts more than 60,000 pay-and-play rounds per year.

The iconic venue reinvests revenue from green fees ($675 for 18 holes*), into supporting government and state-led programs to protect marine environments and coastal communities.

Aaron Flink, Chief Strategy Officer at Pebble Beach Company, told Silicon Valley Business Journal: We take sustainability seriously. It's been, again, a part of our DNA. “All of our resort courses, as well as the other four 18-hole golf courses located within the Del Monte Forest are all irrigated 100% with reclaimed water.”

The Pebble Beach Company (PBC) is sole financial sponsor of a $67m wastewater reclamation project that converts wastewater from local communities into high-quality recycled water for golf course irrigation.

The water irrigates five golf courses operated by PBC in the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest area, as well as at neighbouring clubs Cypress Point, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Poppy Hills.

PBC estimates that the project has saved over 7 billion gallons of potable water in the three decades since it was established.

In a bid to protect ocean eco-systems, PBC contracts research divers to monitor tidal surges and prevent the build-up of golf balls in Stillwater Cove and Carmel Bay. 

Professional scuba and snorkel divers recover balls hit into the ocean and PBC staff regularly conduct shore walks for any lost balls on beaches and rocky outcrops.

Since 1987, PBC has provided protective fencing to make rookeries for harbor seals that come ashore along Monterey’s 17-Mile Drive.

Energy consumption is another issue that PBC says it’s tackling head-on. 

It claims to have reduced energy usage by 17 percent since 2008, thanks to measures including retrofitting lights, walk-in coolers and freezers, investing in hybrid vehicles, energy efficient golf carts and encouraging its 1600 employees to carpool.

Other initiatives include employing 10 full-time ecology, forestry and native plant nursery staff to work on reforestation projects. PBC says its nursery can grow up to 70,000 plants per year.

Lone Cypress Tree, 17-mile Drive, Monterey

“We continue to do everything we can on the sustainability side. One of the cornerstones of our partnership with the USGA is to work with their USGA Green Section, which is their agronomic research hub on what is the next wave of turf grass pioneering research,” said Flink.

Flink believes that collaborating with the USGA on water conservation is a high priority and one that can help golf courses across the USA and worldwide.

*Green fees correct at time of publication