Can Golf Go Green?
"Golf is the most frustrating sport EVER!”
"It’s an environmental disaster."
These are things I’d say to myself to convince myself from ever giving the sport a legitimate shot. While I had a set of hand me down clubs from my days of living in New York City, I was always a once every-other-year golfer.
That is until sometime around August when a buddy invited me to play at Denver public course called Willis Case. What happened on that day surprised everyone, especially myself. Maybe it was beginner’s luck or I began to look at the sport in a new light, but I wasn’t getting frustrated.
My new outlook was all about just taking in the beautiful scenery, ponds, lush greens and fairways with the Colorado Rockies as the backdrop. I was actually hitting decent shots! I mean don’t get me wrong, I had mostly bad shots. But enough good ones where I actually impressed the others in my group and it made me want to play again. We played a Scramble format which means we decide after each shot which is the best shot and play that ball. It made for a relaxing day on the course and I didn’t feel so much pressure to keep up.
As an environmentalist, it was hard to get past the fact that golf uses so much land and water,
and this wasn't sustainable. Writing this article though has made me further look into the issue. What if golf and nature could have a symbiotic relationship? Can it actually support each other? Perhaps! A well-managed golf course can provide environmental benefits such as wildlife biodiversity, soil protection and water filtering. I’ve learned that golf courses (if done right) can be a haven for species like owls, snakes, birds, bees, butterflies and amphibians. While golfing in Steamboat, CO at the Rollingstone Ranch Course, I personally saw elk, a mother bear with her cubs, deer, etc.
You can read more here, where the author argues that golf courses can essentially become miniature wildlife reserves.
But what about the amount of water golf courses can use? These days, most golf courses employ precise irrigation and pesticide use, conserving whenever possible and doing everything they can to protect the environment. Also, from my research, many courses throughout the country are employing turf removal and instead going with synthetic turf which means saving on water and pesticides.
Water scarcity demands we adapt to the times, and golf courses have a central role to act responsibly and create sustainable environments. And synthetics will have a major role now and in the future. Experts believe there will be universal acceptance of synthetic solutions on golf courses in the future, just as there is wide acceptance of electric vehicles, as our environment demands these changes.
At the end of the day, as long as we are causing minimal harm, it’s important to do what makes us happy. Especially when there is so much suffering in the world. From a pandemic to gun violence to racial divides to divorce rates skyrocketing - human beings are going through a lot.
Happiness is so elusive it’s important to find it where we can. It’s always been about the discovery, listening to your heart, and finding that hope. For me, even though I’m still a truly awful golfer, I’m finding joy when I hit that one shot gives me hope to keep on learning and getting better.
For the moment, golf is making me happy. What’s making you happy these days?