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Golf course in Venice uses solar panels to keep fairway 'green'

Venice East Golf Club installed 18 solar panels to run the irrigation pump for its reclaim water system. Next year it plans to add more solar panels to power the golf carts.

The Venice East Golf Course says it’s the first golf course on the west coast of Florida to use solar power. They expect to save $100,000 over the next 20 years and help keep the fairway green.

“They won’t come back to play if the course looks bad. They’ll go find a golf course that’s in better shape,” says Carl Ford, president of the Venice East Golf Club Association.

A golfer’s swing tells the ball where to go, but if the greens are in bad shape, when the ball lands on the fairway it can cost a player that hole.  

“The ball will land and start taking a left-hand turn or right-hand turn instead of going straight,” says Ford. “A golf course should be two things: be playable but it should also be eye candy to an avid golfer.”

Keeping greens healthy requires regular watering … and that’s expensive. The Venice East Golf Club’s electric bill is usually $400 a month. Not anymore. They’ve installed solar panels to run the pump that uses reclaimed water for its irrigation system.

“At 12 in the afternoon we were racking up 6 kilowatts,” says Lila Purcell, general manager of the Venice East Golf Club. She says the golf course will recoup the $22,000 installation cost in 5 years but they don’t have to wait to see huge savings now. 

Purcell says the monthly bill will drop: “Maybe $15 a month instead of $400 a month we were paying."

And the energy they don’t use now they can save for a rainy day. She says, “We can rack up credits with the power company so if we don’t generate enough one month we can take from the credits from the previous month.”

Using solar power for irrigation is just the beginning. In a few years the golf course will use the sun to power its golf carts.

Ford says solar power is a win-win for the environment and the golfers.  He says, “In five years we’ll be electricity-free out here.”

Purcell says the solar panels are sturdy too they can withstand winds of up to 160 mph and hail as big as an inch.

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