Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Impact of Golf Courses

Golf courses have a long association with coastal areas. In recent years golf tourism in Spain has increased in popularity and the number of golf courses has grown rapidly. These are resort destinations, and the golf courses are normally associated with substantial real estate development, hotels and related facilities.

In drier regions like the Mediterranean, the issue of water scarcity is of particular concern. Because of the hot climate and the tendency of tourists to consume more water when on holiday than they do at home, the amount used can run up to 440 litres a day. This is almost double what the inhabitants of an average Spanish city use.

Golf course maintenance can deplete these scarce fresh water resources. Golf courses require an enormous amount of water every day and, as with other causes of excessive extraction of water, this can result in water scarcity. If the water comes from wells, over-extraction can cause saline intrusion into groundwater. Golf resorts are more and more often situated in or near protected areas or areas where resources are limited, exacerbating their impacts.

An average golf course in a tropical country such as Thailand needs 1500kg of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides per year and uses as much water as 60,000 rural villagers.
Source: Tourism Concern




Employment and income benefits, both direct and indirect

Loss of biodiversity

Tax benefits to local, regional and national governments

Eutrophication or river or seawater through use of fertilisers

Attracts new firms to the region

Heavy user of water for irrigation

Health and social benefits. Careers can benefit through 'networking'.

Biocides use to maintain the greenness of the 'greens', control insects, fungicides and weeds, contaminate both the air and water

Attracts the higher-spending social groups

Golf clubs often portray an elitist and exclusive lifestyle

Helps conserve valuable fragments of coastal habitat from encroaching urbanisation and agriculture

Leads to an increase in road traffic

Increases local property values

Raises property prices beyond the reach of local young people