Golf Courses vs. Solar Energy
By R.J. Smiley
The Psychic is passionate about golf! He watches golf on TV. He reads about golf, golf courses and news about his favorite players.
Recently the Psychic read a story on GOLFPASS – “Solar industry putting golf courses in the dark.” The story concerned two eastern U.S. golf courses that had recently been sold to solar energy companies. The real estate it seems is worth more as an energy farm than a golf course.
“With the push away from fossil fuels and toward clean renewable energy, will all golf courses become solar farms? Where will it stop? What will become of the game that he loves? Could solar energy kill or drastically alter the 84 billion-dollar golf industry?”
With an impatient pace in his step the Psychic retires to his study and uncovers the see-all, tell-all crystal ball.
The first scene that is revealed from within the mystic sphere is a nerdy technician monitoring computers. Using artificial intelligence programed in the computers, the technician searches for existing golf courses that are adjacent to a major city and/or large capacity electric transmission lines. Once a golf course, that meets the initial criteria is identified, the topography is researched. Hilly courses that provide rainwater drainage for large areas upstream are eliminated. The diversion of run-off water would create massive expense and endless governmental permitting.
Once the computer identifies a golf property that is a perfect fit from a location and topography standpoint, the ownership records and possible zoning options for the golf property are researched. Finding the few perfect candidates for the conversion from golf course to energy farm is difficult.
The crystal ball reveals that only a few golf course properties fit the requirements to become a solar farm.
The Psychic smiles as he counts the eleven bridges that carry golfers over rock filled gulches during dry periods and raging torrents after a few inches of rain. “The muni will never become an energy farm!” He smiles.
The psychic relaxes, but the crystal ball is taking him in another direction. The crystal ball is seeing the future from outside the box. What if driving ranges became a dual-purpose enterprise? The Psychic sees a driving range bathed by the intense rays from the mid-summer sun. The practice tee area is being used by golfers while others impatiently wait for an open spot on the tee. The crystal ball makes a point of showing that once a ball is hit, very few golfers observe the full roll out.
The scene flips to winter months where the driving range is closed, but the sun shines brightly onto the property. The warming solar rays, though weakened by the angle of the winter sun, continue to shine on this piece of mother earth.
Next the Psychic peers deeply into the crystal ball that seeks additional uses for the property, the unused land under the solar panels. Edible plants, that grow well in shaded conditions, are being studied. A network of drip lines provides the required irrigation. Chickens, turkeys, even dairy and beef cattle are being raised under the only slightly raised solar panels.
The scene flips to huge wind farms where cattle and crops co-exist with little or no interference.
“What if a driving range landing area could be covered by solar panels?” the Psychic ponders. Before his thought is complete, the crystal ball is flipping through alternatives where solar panels constructed from various color materials become the range targets. In only a few swings golf could become accustomed to the slightly different looking targets and landing areas.
“How will the range balls be pic…..?” comes into the Psychic’s mind. Before the thought is complete, the crystal ball is flipping through ideas. First, the Psychic sees a self-driving, low profile range picker that continuously covers every inch of the range and never collides with the posts that support the solar panels.
Next the Psychic sees the hard surfaces under the solar panels. These hard surfaces are tilted where gravity pulls balls into a low collection area.
While the crystal ball continues to sort through various options for use of land lying under a solar driving range, the Psychic removes his turban, covers his magic marble and retires to his chair in front of the flat screen.