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Oklahoma's Drought And How Tulsa Area Golf Courses Are Coping

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

Drought remains a huge issue in Oklahoma and it's no secret golf courses guzzle water. The United States Golf Association believes that has got to change and recently they set out to prove their point at their most prestigious tournament.

"I think they're trying to tell us brown is the new green really," said Ray Beard.

Both the men's and women's U.S. Opens were held this year at Pinehurst #2 in North Carolina, a once emerald gem considered by many to be the best test of golf in America, but after tearing out most of the irrigation system to save water, to many observers it looked more like...

"Anywhere between goat ranches and it's terrible," said Ray Beard.

Beard is the course superintendent at the public course at Tulsa's LaFortune Park.

His counterpart at the private Tulsa Country Club, Brady Fenton, sees Pinehurst differently.

"I love what they did, I'm a traditionalist, I really like the old school architects," Brady Fenton.

Who's right? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the banker. Pinehurst reduced its water usage from 50 million gallons per year to just 15 million gallons, good for the environment and great for the bottom line.

Both Fenton and Beard use soil moisture monitors to calculate how much water is in their turf. When asked the level where one would say, ‘let's water this?

"When we get down to about 13 percent," said Brady Fenton.

And where that water comes from had changed at both courses as well. As any homeowner will tell you, Tulsa city water is expensive, so both courses supplement that with their own ponds and new technology.

"We have in-ground soil moisture monitors too that I can read from my IPhone and just check out where we're at. Our computers calculate wind speed, humidity, they tell us, science is, come a long ways in just the last five years," says Brady Fenton.

With Oklahoma experiencing severe drought conditions for the last three years, Ray Beard is all for using less water and fewer pesticides, but he still believes the USGA has gone too far.

The United States Golf Association and environmentalists say it's time to find out.

What do you think? Go to my Facebook page and let me know if you think it's time golf got less green.

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