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Arizona: Longer, Straighter, Greener Golf – Thanks to Energy

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 26, 2017

Folks play golf year-round in Arizona. That’s an option when your state capital/largest city can be found in the “Valley of the Sun,” right? Warm temps … sunshine … just add water – for greens so immaculately manicured you could shoot a game of pool on them, and soft, rolling fairways that cradle a long, straight drive, setting up an easy chip to the pin – or, if you’re Jordan Spieth, a bunker shot that you hole out to win the Travelers Championship playoff.

Download: Energy is Arizona

Here’s the scoop: If you like golf, you must like energy. Natural gas and oil help make today’s golf a game of leveraged power – enjoyed on exquisite courses and made enjoyable by energy, from well-fertilized courses to equipment crafted with space-age materials. Natural gas and oil make a good game even better.

Arizona golf is an experience people will travel for – to play 18 holes on courses like the iconic TPC Scottsdale and Grayhawk Golf Club, both of them stops on the PGA Tour. These and other courses have helped make Arizona one of the top golf destinations in the United States. And energy tees it all up.

Take the ball. Remember Tiger Woods’ electrifying hole-in-one on No. 16 at TPC Scottsdale in 1997? The shot was the combination of a perfect swing with a 9-iron and a little white, dimpled ball – made with materials from petroleum – that hopped twice before disappearing in the cup, creating one of golf’s great moments. Golf fan Allan Henry told what he saw and heard that day at TPC Scottsdale:

“It went dead silent for a split second and then the whole place erupted. There was that split second where everyone just gasped inward.”

A golf ball’s core and its dimpled hide, gives it a stable flight trajectory. The ball must be centered and consistent in weight to play true. The core, arguably the most important part of the ball, is produced from a synthetic rubber called polybutadiene, which is the result of the polymerization of butadiene.  The compound is produced from the steam cracking process of petroleum derived-naphtha and gas oil.

It takes a lot of polybutadiene to manufacture the 840 million golf balls that Nike estimates are produced each year. That’s more than one golf ball each for every resident of the world’s 170 smallest nations combined.

Long off the Tee

Infographic: Arizon Golf

Being strong off the tee is a big part of having a well-rounded golf game. You’ve got to “grip it and rip it,” as former pro John Daly used to say, or “let the big dog eat” – Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy’s technical description of hammering a tee shot 250 yards or more – the “more” being PGA Tour players, some of whom average 300+ yards from the tee. Many players believe that the club’s grip is the most significant contributor to a successful drive. Grips help a golfer maintain control and guide their shot. These are typically made from rubber and thermoplastics, and both use petroleum as a key element in their production.


Going for Green

One of the images most associated with golf is the pristine golf green. The green is golf’s Promised Land. It can be a golfer’s best friend or worst enemy. For the green to be considered “up to par,” it must be the correct length, style and growth.

To keep their greens in tip-top shape, golf courses across the country used more than 60,000 tons of nitrogen-based fertilizer in 2014. In Arizona, where the weather usually is dry, course upkeep and care needs extra TLC. A critical component to nitrogen fertilizers is natural gas. Called the Haber-Bosch process, natural gas is combined with high heat pressure to produce the ammonia necessary to manufacture fertilizer.

So, whether you are hitting the Arizona links on your day off, or you are a competitive scratch golfer, keep in mind that natural gas and petroleum give you the tools to keep you in between the beach and the water. It also requires a little skill from you.

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Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.