by Janet Ritz
Golf courses can be breathtaking in their beauty, places where traditions have been passed on from parent to child, where business has long been conducted between peers and rivals, where some of the world's greatest athletes have provided decades of entertainment and, more recently, places of breakthroughs in race, gender and the awareness (not entirely solved) of the prior exclusion of both.
They have also been, historically, pesticide and chemically ridden in order to maintain the pristine environments.
That began to change after a 1995 meeting at Pebble Beach between the major golfing organizations and environmental groups. However, according to a survey conducted by Golf Digest Magazine for their May 2008 issue, there may still be some greens to reach in regulation:
Today, 13 years later [post the 1995 conference], after five national conferences and dozens of smaller meetings and workshops, they're still talking. Improvements have been made, reports, guidelines and educational videos have been published, and the effort -- which has become known as the Golf & Environment Initiative -- has allowed the game to claim it's cleaning up its act.The article goes on to cite current and upcoming problems and a general attitude that falls somewhere between genuine concern to doing just enough not to get criticized.
Before the 1995 meeting, there were serious issues surrounding golf and its impact on the environment and, despite much self-congratulatory hyperbole from the gold industry about environmental sensitivity, sustainability and stewardship and the obligatory eco-claims of every new golf resort, there are still plenty of serious problems today.
The problems? Where the courses are built and how they're maintained. The pending water crisis as climate change intensifies and the pesticides that blanket many of the courses in the need to keep the greens green.
From the Golf Digest survey (PDF):
Golf is an environmentally friendly/compatible sport:The survey continues with more specific questions and the article includes interviews with many leading golf professionals and environmentalists who have been working to improve the game; recommended reading for golf-enthusiasts and non-golfers alike.
91% Golfers agree.
66% Non-Golfers agreed.
Is global warming a threat?
59% Golfers agree that it's a threat.
73% Non-Golfers agree that it's a threat.
Is global warming a myth?
41% Golfers agree that it's a myth.
27% Non-Golfers agree that it's a myth.
For those who accept global warming, is it man-made or natural?
52% Golfers agree it's man-made.
66% Non-Golfers agree it's man-made.
48% Golfers agree it's natural.
34% Non-Golfers agree it's natural.
LABELS: CLIMATE CHANGE, DROUGHT, ENVIRONMENT, GLOBAL WARMING, GOLF, GOLF DIGEST MAGAZINE, LIFESTYLE, PESTICIDES, SUSTAINABILITY