Naturalized areas are becoming an increasingly common sight on golf courses. In fact, according to a recent USGA-funded survey, 46 percent of U.S. golf courses are increasing their acreage of naturalized areas. There are many reasons for this trend, including the desire to save water, create wildlife habitat, reduce maintenance costs and focus more resources on primary playing areas.
Unfortunately, for all their benefits, naturalized areas also come with their fair share of controversy, especially if golf balls start disappearing. Understanding a few key facts about naturalized areas can go a long way toward ensuring their success at your favorite course. Here are three things every golfer should know:
Naturalized Areas Are Not “No-Maintenance” Areas
One of the most common misconceptions about naturalized areas is that they require little or no maintenance. At the very least, most naturalized areas require annual mowing in the fall or spring, but many courses perform additional mowing throughout the year in areas where playability and aesthetics are a concern. In addition, weed control may be required at various times during the year. Naturalized areas with exposed soil may also be vulnerable to erosion that requires repair after a significant rain. How much maintenance is required, and how much it costs, hinges very much on our expectations as golfers.