What a great idea for a thread! Good examples too.
Adding to your ethanol comment: I have always thought it was a bad idea to use anything from our food chain to make fuel. We can't eat the oil, after all.
I think the industry (golf primarily) jumped on the USGA sand-topdressing bandwagon too early (late 1970s) and without enough exploration and explanation of other methods. I think soils with high sand content are great but straight sand...I have tried it and am unconvinced. It is expensive to use and demanding in terms of maintaining it. I use a sand plus compost mix on athletic fields now wherever practical. I have one coming up soon that will be straight compost.
Looking forward to seeing the other examples pele come up with!