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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Proposed ordinance could prohibit new course construction in Colorado city


Municipal Saddle Rock Golf Course in Aurora, Colorado.

The benefits of golf courses are many. They provide wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, improve air quality, filter ground water, positively influence real estate value and generally are an aesthetic improvement to any community. They also are low-hanging fruit when subjects like chemical bans and water use come up, a trend that illustrates the need for public relations work on behalf of the golf industry.

With growth in the golf industry trending negative for most of the last 16 years, it is unclear how many, if any, are interested in building a golf course in the Denver suburb of Aurora. But if the city's mayor has his way, that option could soon be off the table.

An ordinance proposed by Aurora mayor Mike Coffman would eliminate planting new grass in public areas and would limit the amount of grass allowed in residential lawns in new home communities. The ordinance, if passed by the city council, also would prohibit construction of any new golf courses within the city limits. 

There are a dozen golf operations in Aurora, including five municipal operations, and 250 located throughout the state, according to the Colorado Golf Association.

Neither number is likely to grow much, if at all, anytime soon.

Much of Colorado has been in some stage of drought since 2000. Today, 100 percent of the state is under drought conditions, ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. 

According to Colorado State University, cool-season grasses can require 1 inch to 2.5 inches of water per week, depending on the time of year. Aurora receives an average of 16 inches of rain per year, according to the National Weather Service. Aurora water officials say outdoor irrigation comprises 50 percent of the city's water use. 

With a population of 370,000, Aurora is the largest suburb in the Denver area and is Colorado's third-largest city.

Besides prohibiting the construction of new golf courses, the proposed ordinance would prohibit grass in medians and common spaces and in front and side lawns in new home construction.

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