A golf course even I can (kind of) appreciate

The world would be a better place — I believe — if all golf courses became public parks.

Golf pulls many men away from their families. (Admittedly, many fathers-and-sons have bonded over golf, but on net, golf is a very anti-family sport.) Golf courses hog up space and water. Even worse, they’re addicted to poisonous chemicals, which are bad enough when applied to the course itself but far worse because those chemicals leach into our rivers, lakes and oceans as runoff and are breathed in by people and inhaled and digested by animals.

I wouldn’t feel as bad about golf courses if they embraced an organic approach, as The Vineyard Golf Course on Martha’s Vineyard has:

[The grounds superintendent] has transported microscopic worms from Iowa to attack turf-ruining grubs. He has disrupted the mating cycle of damaging oriental beetles with a strategically placed scent and has grown grass that he believes is more resistant to disease because it developed without chemicals.

We have several golf courses near us, including one that abuts the end of our street. At best, they’re annoyances because I must drive/bike/walk all the way around them. I cannot stroll or jog through them because they’re fenced off. And, even if I could, I would prefer a natural park to hike through with my kids.

At worst, these courses are poisoning us. Incidence of cancer, asthma, nerve damage and reproductive problems rises with proximity to golf courses, schools and farms, which regularly use large quantities of pesticides.

Traditional golf course maintenance methods are unacceptably toxic:

Carlson recalled one of his earliest jobs in the business, in which he mixed mercury-based fungicides by hand, occasionally near the on-course house where he lived with his wife, Kathy.

“Kathy has beautiful, thick red hair, and it started to fall out,” he said. “She went to the doctor, who did some tests and was told she had heavy-metal poisoning. Obviously, I stopped using that stuff. All these years later, it has been kind of satisfying to be trying something so very different.”

Posted by James on Tuesday, August 17, 2010