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Drought spurs sports to look at water use on fairways and fields

Drought spurs sports to look at water use on fairways and fields
Golf legend and course designer Jack Nicklaus surveys a sand trap at Sherwood Country Club under renovation in Thousand Oaks. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

That spot down the fairway, just past the dogleg, might be perfect for a new bunker. Jack Nicklaus imagines a hazard that would force golfers to choose.

Lay up short or try to hit over?

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"Heaven forbid somebody would have to think," Nicklaus says with a smile. "Especially a golfer."

It is a cool Friday morning, and perhaps the greatest player ever is planning a massive renovation at Sherwood Country Club. Most of the notes he scribbles in a thick binder deal with reshaping greens and moving tees, but there is something else to consider: the drought.

In coming months, his design firm will oversee the installation of high-efficiency irrigation and add native plants to the Thousand Oaks course. Workers will strip away seven or more acres of turf in places where members rarely hit the ball.

"Water is a big issue right now," Nicklaus says. "You have to be aware of what you're doing."

In the midst of a historic dry spell, with Gov. Jerry Brown demanding that Californians reduce water usage by 25%, sports such as golf, baseball and football must find new ways to care for acres of grass.

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