The Golfing Debate

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The Golfing Debate

4 cases that show how unsustainable Golf really is:

Golfing has always had a reputation for high elitism, natural landscaping, and a lack of high-intensity exercise that instead promotes business decision-making. But how does golf behave with the environment? Why are we interested in this boring but beautiful sport?

Environmentalists and political activists have brought up the fact that there are too many resources dedicated to the construction and maintenance of golf courses. This statement brings up a debate on how harmful golf courses can be to our fragile ecosystems since it’s the only sport that uses vast amounts of land.

The arguments raised in the Golf Course debate include land use, deforestation, irrigation systems and water shortages, social class division, the impact on biodiversity, and all the chemicals that are needed to maintain a golf course green.

1. Land Use

A golf course’s average size varies from 100 to 190 acres of land in comparison land for pasture varies from 600 square feet to 5 acres of land. This comparison is exceptionally shocking since cattle pasture is often criticized for its land use, and as one of the biggest environmental threats.

The alteration of natural environments during the construction of golf courses includes clearing the land from its native plants and animals through deforestation. Then, the property has to be drained– this harms the soil and increases soil degradation. This is corroborated by the use of heavy machinery that also installs irrigation systems, pumping stations, and turf management. This land movement destroys natural habitats and misuses the land–land that could otherwise be used for more ecological and social practices, such as localized agriculture for the community.

Golf developers destroy real forests to replace them with imitation forests on a golf course located in water-scarce areas.

2. Water Consumption

Aerial view of a golf courses in Palm Springs, CA

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, golfing contributes to water scarcity through overpumping which causes saline intrusion into the groundwater. Golf resorts are more often situated near or in protected areas where resources are limited, exacerbating their impacts on the rest of the community. An average golf course in the United States uses more than 312,000 gallons of water per day. Palm Springs hosts 57 golf courses that have fought over precious water in its desert environment leaving water shortages to the rest of the less-privileged community.

Our conclusion: water is being wasted on giant lawns that only benefit the elite’s entertainment and their business negotiations. Although some golf resorts have opted for more sustainable practices, only 12% of American golf courses use recycled greywater. Policymakers and tourism chambers should o opt for more sustainable golf courses to mitigate the climate emergency we are currently undergoing.

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3. Chemical + Fertilizer Use

The British NGO “Tourism Concern” stated that “an average golf course in a tropical country such as Thailand needs 1,500 kg of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides per year and uses as much water as 60,000 rural villagers.” Several golfers’ reports are getting intoxicated by the poor management of the chemical releases in high-temperature resorts. The chemicals used can turn into greenhouse gases, affecting the population’s climate, soil, and health.

4. Class Division

The class divergence is very present in the golfing panorama in which privilege is used to have a slow leisurely strolls with high fees. Even though the golf course can offer jobs to the community, its environmental impact outweighs its benefits. The land could be repurposed and still provide jobs to the community without harming the environment or causing water shortages to the rest of the population. The high costs of participating in a golf community mean that several golf courses are an unattainable social status for the vast majority. This creates unhealthy business practices by reinforcing the status quo: the wealthy get wealthier, whilst the poorer can’t even get through the Golf gates.

Possible Solution

Policymakers and golf courses should reevaluate the environmental implications of the sport and adopt sustainable practices in which the community members profit by selling the wastewater to the courses, creating a circular and more sustainable economy. Agricultural and apiculture projects can be implemented in some areas of the resort. This way, golf resorts can offset their climate imbalance by contributing to a more biodiverse, sustainable, and clean ecosystem.

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