Pelican Hill Golf Club: as ‘green’ as any course in the country

Long before the current drought, Pelican Hill Golf Club developed one of the most sophisticated water conservation systems of any golf course in the nation.

When the current California drought grew serious, National Public Radio, CNBC and other media outlets searched the state to find its most water-conscious golf course. They all featured Pelican Hill Golf Club.

One of the most sophisticated water conservation systems has been developed for the two 18-hole, Tom Fazio-designed golf courses on the Newport Coast. Here are some of its features:

The courses only use recycled water.

In 2007, Pelican Hill installed the five underground cisterns that can hold 1.2 million gallons of rainwater and runoff. Water captured in the cisterns is recycled and used to irrigate the golf courses and landscape.

Two irrigation lakes can hold an additional 5.4 million gallons of rainwater and runoff, which can be pumped in from the cisterns and then used to irrigate the golf courses and landscape.

  • The courses are irrigated with the help of weather satellites, computers, smart phone apps and 11,000 sprinkler heads— 6,000 of which are individually controlled—to pinpoint irrigation only to needed areas.
  • Over the last few years, an additional 18 acres of the golf courses have been converted to warm season Bermuda grass similar to what is used on the fairways and tees, which is drought and cold tolerant and requires less watering. This initiative to convert the turf is ongoing.
  • With the cisterns and sophisticated irrigation system, virtually no storm water leaves the coastal golf course, earning praise from environmentalists concerned about runoff into the Pacific Ocean.
  • A computerized device measures the moisture level of the greens each day, ensuring that only the exact amount of water needed will be used.
  • Each year, Pelican Hill uses 40% less water than its recycled water allocation from the Irvine Ranch Water District.
  • Pelican Hill has been honored by Golf Magazine’s Eco-friendly Green Hall of Fame Awards and Golf Digest’s Green Star Environmental Awards.

—June 2015