California Drought Prompts Scrutiny About President Obama’s Golf-Playing Habit


One question for President Obama as he heads for Palm Springs, Calif. this weekend: whether it’s appropriate to play on plush green golf links in the desert amid a severe drought.

“This administration’s commitment to helping those affected by the drought is second to none,” said White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz Thursday in answer to a reporter’s question on that topic before the president headed to the West Coast.

“I know that many courses have taken water mitigation steps aimed at water conservation,” Schultz said.

That’s true. Golf course managers convened a task force in 2013 to focus on reducing the water footprint of their properties. Since then, more owners have replaced some acres of grass with desert landscaping, and it’s possible that more still will follow to cut back on watering during the drought.

But golf courses still account for nearly one-fourth of the groundwater that is pumped from the aquifer in the Coachella Valley that comprises the desert resort city of Palm Springs.

Heavy pumping over the years has led to long-term declines in water levels in much of the area. Some critics have called for the area’s 122 golf courses to move more quickly in removing grass and cutting back on water use.

The two private golf courses where President Barack Obama has played during past visits, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and Porcupine Creek, use groundwater to sustain their grass.

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SOURCE: Jesse Marx
The (Palm Springs) Desert Sun

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