With Earth Day coming up later this week, we were wondering about golf-related ways to mark the occasion. Something fascinating occurred to us:
There are a lot of golf courses that have replaced far less desirable sites: industrial sites, landfills and other non-golf entities.
We're biased, but we tend to think green spaces are better than metal, smoke and concrete. And if those green spaces happen to have 9 or 18 greens, even better.
Here are our favorite "reclaimed" golf courses:
Chambers Bay Golf Links - University Place, Wash.
The 2015 U.S. Open host venue, which drew all kinds of disparate comments from players and spectators alike, was built on the site of a century-old gravel pit. More than 100,000 truckloads of sand and fill were brought in to turn that spent site into the wild, terraced scene that is Chambers Bay. The first U.S. Open held in the Pacific Northwest was a rousing success, meaning that despite some initial discomfort with the course, golf's best players will get another crack at the Jay Blasi/Robert Trent Jones II design before too long.
Trump Golf Links Ferry Point - Bronx, N.Y.
The highest-profile and most expensive-to-build of all courses on this list by far - the total cost has been estimated at $236 million - is a Jack Nicklaus/John Sanford effort that transformed a municipal waste disposal site into one of the most anticipated new courses to open in the Northeast in years. The completely manufactured landscape is partly Irish and partly lunar in aesthetic, with hundreds of grass-covered dunes dotting the site. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the golfer is playing in the middle of one of the world's biggest cities, as the Whitestone Bridge lords over the scene.
Skyway Golf Course - Jersey City, N.J.
Built for a fraction of the cost (just $20 million) and with a fraction of the fanfare of the Trump course, Skyway is a nine-hole track on a former city dump that opened in June 2015, making it the closest public golf course to Lower Manhattan. It is also playable for a fraction of the rates commanded by Trump Golf Links - weekend 18-hole rates top out at $63, against a top Trump tariff of $219. Architects Roy Case and Jeff Grossman fashioned a layout of three par threes, three par fours and three par fives that is already being lauded as a great escape from its urban surrounds.
Granite Links - Quincy, Mass.
If you live in or around Boston, the phrase "Big Dig" probably still causes headaches. The 15-year, $24 billion project to overhaul the area's roads and other infrastructure caused years' worth of travel delays. But one bright spot of the enterprise was the construction of Granite Links, a 27-hole layout built on the site of former municipal landfills and granite quarries. The course's hilltop location affords views of the Boston skyline, with the fill on which the course was built coming from certain Big Dig excavation projects. John Sanford, who assisted Jack Nicklaus at Trump Ferry Point, gained experience in reclaimed-course architecture at Granite Links, which has a similarly open feel, but with more elevation change.
Streamsong Resort - Streamsong, Fla.
Streamsong sits in an undulating portion of the thousands of Florida acreage owned by multi-billion-dollar phosphate mining giant Mosaic. The result of the use of that site for mining? Pure sand: perfect for golf. Bill Coore and Crenshaw (Red) and Tom Doak (Blue) laid out its original two courses, and Gil Hanse is putting the finishing touches on a third (Black), which will open next year.
Park Ridge Golf Course - Lake Worth, Fla.
Thinking about the Palm Beach area conjures visions of blue ocean water, palm trees and amazing wealth. So it's strange that one of the area's best public golf courses is a "brownfields" (former landfill) course, designed by Roy Case. Hailing from England, Case embraced the undulating, open nature of the site to craft a course that is one of Florida's best municipal layouts.
The Mines Golf Course - Grand Rapids, Mich.
Central Michigan is prime mining country, and The Mines is built on the site of former gypsum mining activities. The course embraces this heritage not just with its name but with one of the best public-course logos we've seen. Furthermore, materials from the mining operation were incorporated in the design of the course. An example of the minimalist design philosophy of Mike DeVries, the course only has 31 bunkers - including half a dozen bunkerless holes - so its main defense is a set of fun but potentially fearsome greens. There are not too many courses by name designers whose green fees top out below $54, but The Mines is no ordinary course.
This is just a selection of our favorite "reclaimed" courses. Are there others you want known? Tell us all about them in the comments below!