To an avid golfer, a golf course can appear as a little piece of heaven with its rolling hills and lush green. It is a very sad day when a golf course is abandoned for various reasons. Left to disrepair, they become the monuments of what was once great.
The Abandoned Courses of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Fairway to Heaven is one such golf course. Beautiful in its heyday, it now sits in the midst of overgrown foliage and snakes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. EarthIsland.org published an article by Jacques Leslie, as he and his photographer walked the grounds.
Myrtle Beach was once a golfing capital. From the 1980’s to the early 2000’s, five new golf courses opened every year, according to Leslie. The “golfing bubble” popped when the total number of golf courses hit 120 in Myrtle Beach. As interest waned, the courses were leveled and housing was built. However, a few of these were not torn down. They were abandoned.
The golf courses, once majestic, now sit in total disrepair. Names like Bay Tree and Deer Track still hold some semblance of what once was. Leslie and his photographer describe the scene as both wild and haunting. Certain areas looked as if people just walked away from the course and never returned, leaving equipment ready to be used.
Not all abandoned golf courses end tragically. Some are repurposed for an entirely different function.
Japan’s Quest to Turn Abandoned Golf Courses into Solar Power Plants
Japan has decided to reuse their abandoned golf courses by transforming them into solar power plants. According to an article published in the Independent UK, “the first will produce enough energy to power thousands of households”.
Just like the boom in the golfing industry in the 1980’s that South Carolina experienced, Japan had a similar boom at the same time. Instead of leveling the courses, the company Kyocera plans to install solar panels in the open spaces. Japan has been looking for an alternative energy source since the 2011 nuclear energy power plant disaster.
The project is expected to really begin taking form between 2014 and 2017 as the plants are built.
Scotland’s 250 Former Courses
Scotland is another country refusing to ignore their derelict golf courses. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has launched a project with the 250 former courses. Aerial photography depicts the landscape for each course for Scotland’s historical records. The golf courses reflect the country’s social and economic growth in the 20th century, including the creation of golf courses during World War II for military recreation.
Clare Sorenson, RCAHMS Curator, stated on the website, “Golf is an important part of many people’s lives in Scotland whether they play for fun or gain their living from it.”
Although viewing abandoned golf courses can be sad, it is an important part of a country’s past, as Scotland is proving. Perhaps Japan will influence more countries to use the land they have to solve a problem instead of allowing it to waste away.