Florida golf course uses solar energy to keep its fairways green

News reportsApril 26, 20191512


A Florida golf course has installed solar panels to power its water irrigation system, which they expect will save them $100,000 over the next 20 years.


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For golfers, there's nothing better than smooth, green grass to get the maximum distance out of their shots.

But keeping all that natural space emerald color can be very expensive.

That's why a western Florida golf course is turning to green energy to keep their green in the same color.

The Venice East Golf Course says it’s the first facility on the west coast of Florida to use solar power. They expect to save $100,000 over the next 20 years and help keep the fairway green.

“They won’t come back to play if the course looks bad. They’ll go find a golf course that’s in better shape,” says Carl Ford, president of the Venice East Golf Club Association.
A golfer’s swing tells the ball where to go, but if the greens are in bad shape, when the ball lands on the fairway it can cost a player that hole.  

“The ball will land and start taking a left-hand turn or right-hand turn instead of going straight,” says Ford. “A golf course should be two things: be playable but it should also be eye candy to an avid golfer.”

Keeping greens healthy requires regular watering … and that’s expensive. The Venice East Golf Club’s electric bill is usually $400 a month. Not anymore. They’ve installed solar panels to run the pump that uses reclaimed water for its irrigation system.

“At 12 in the afternoon we were racking up 6 kilowatts,” says Lila Purcell, general manager of the Venice East Golf Club. She says the golf course will recoup the $22,000 installation cost in 5 years but they don’t have to wait to see huge savings now. 

Purcell says the monthly bill will drop: “Maybe $15 a month instead of $400 a month we were paying."

And the energy they don’t use now they can save for a rainy day. She says, “We can rack up credits with the power company so if we don’t generate enough one month we can take from the credits from the previous month.”

Using solar power for irrigation is just the beginning. In a few years the golf course will use the sun to power its golf carts.

Ford says solar power is a win-win for the environment and the golfers.  He says, “In five years we’ll be electricity-free out here.”

Purcell says the solar panels are sturdy too they can withstand winds of up to 160 mph and hail as big as an inch.

The association was paying for reclaimed water and the electricity to water their 51-acre course. 

"When I saw that it’s like oh that’s too much money," said Purcell. 

At first, she thought there was nothing they could do, but then she decided to look into one of the sunshine state's most abundant resources: The sun and solar power. 

"We get probably 10 or 12 hours of sun a day," says Ford, the president of Venice East Golf Association.

The panels are out of sight and out of range of the course. They've been up and running their irrigation system for nearly a week. 

Ford said the savings are already evident. 

"This is going to save up between $350 and $400 a month in irrigation costs," said Ford. 

While golfers are on the course, Purcell watches as the panels work. They're already acquiring 345 Kilowatts of electricity. 

"That's a good chunk of money," said Purcell. 

The irrigation system is just the beginning. Venice East hopes to put up additional solar panels, enough to one day power its fleet of golf carts.

Just like a hole in one - it's a win-win situation for the course. 

"It makes me feel good knowing that we are helping the environment and cutting back on our expenses," said Purcell.

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