Report: Future Open Championship venues could be threatened by climate change
This climate change report is not encouraging if you're a golf fan
The Open Championship celebrated its 146th edition last summer at Royal Birkdale. The rotation of 10 different courses has been mostly the same for the last few decades, but a recent report noted that the event might not make it 146 more tournaments with the current venues.
Sea-level rise poses the greatest long-term threat to golf in the UK. More than one in six of Scotland's 600 golf courses are located on the coast -- including the Old Course at St Andrews, Royal Troon and Montrose Golf Links in Angus. 'Links' are the oldest type of golf courses, developed in Scotland, and located on the coast on 'links land' -- characterized by dunes, sandy soil and fine-textured grassland.
The R&A, the governing body for golf outside the USA and Mexico, recognizes the risk, while only a small increase in sea-level rise would imperil all of the world's links courses before the end of the century. Along with the damage they can do to course playability, increased rainfall and storms -- exacerbated by climate change -- are posing participation challenges.
To its credit, the R&A is taking this future seriously.
"It [climate change] is certainly becoming a factor" Steve Isaac, Director of Sustainability at The R&A, told the Climate Coalition. "Golf is impacted by climate change more than most other sports. Trends associated with climate change are resulting in periods of course closures, even during summer, with disruption seen to some professional tournaments.
"We are witnessing different types and timings of disease, pest and weed outbreaks. The future threats are very real, with course managers having to show adaptation if we are to maintain current standards of course condition. It is something we take very seriously."
All of that is kind of a bummer. Who knows what will come of it, of course, but the outlook is not great. There will presumably be decades to prepare, but I'm not sure there's much you can do to hold back nature (or a future UK coast that is decimated by the oceans).
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