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Better golf with less water

The redesign of Los Robles Greens in Thousand Oaks, California, has led

to a dramatic reduction in its use of water, fertilizer, pesticide and fuel

Photos: Dave Sansom


n the midst of a historic drought

and facing government regulations

on water use, Thousand Oaks was

determined to implement a city-wide

conservation effort, to include their

municipal golf course, Los Robles Greens.

The existing golf course design was costly

to maintain, and bans were already in

place on selected pesticides and native tree

removal. The city was determined to create

a socially-accepted golf course that was

mutually profitable and environmentally

beneficial. Jason Straka, ASGCA, was

tasked with creating a playable, fun,

profitable and visually stunning golf course

that used the least amount of water and

other inputs necessary.

The design team took inspiration from

the renovation of the Pinehurst No. 2

golf course in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Although in a different ecosystem, the

changes to the course were still very

applicable. To study the intricacies of

the renovation and management, Straka

visited the course with Pinehurst’s

director of grounds and golf course

maintenance Bob Farren and the No. 2

course’s superintendent John Jeffreys.

Straka’s subsequent redesign of Los

Robles Greens removed 30 acres of

turf and naturalized 40 acres with

approximately 55,000+ native and

adapted drought and pest resistant plants.

These naturalized areas have been covered

with mulch made on site by recycling 15

years of accumulated green waste.

The long-term goal is to allow leaf litter

from live oak trees to accumulate and

build up in the natural areas, much the

same as pine straw gathers in the natural

areas of Pinehurst No. 2. Not only did

Los Robles Greens previously irrigate turf

in these areas, but they spent countless

labor hours mowing them, picking up

leaf litter, and applying fertilizers and

pesticides. The future now holds a

drastic reduction in the amount of water,

fertilizer, pesticide and fossil fuel used

at the facility as a whole, exceeding the

city’s original goals.


Thousand Oaks,


Golf course architect:

Jason Straka, ASGCA

Fry/Straka Global Golf Course

Design, LLC

Project summary:

Los Robles

Greens was economically

challenged due to rising water

and maintenance costs, and faced

regulatory pressure to reduce

water use. A redesign created a

model for sustainable golf.


City of Thousand

Oaks; Arcis Golf (club

management); Broderson

Associates (landscaping); Bryant

Taylor Gordon Golf (irrigation

design); American Landscape

(construction); Rain Bird

(irrigation); Advanced Drainage

Systems (pipe); West Coast Turf

(turf); Robert Abe Nursery (plants);

PW Gillibrand (aggregate)

Los Robles Greens