Golf is inherently bad for the environment.
The 2015 documentary “A Dangerous Game” catalogues the offenses. “Golf courses just pound water on them, and that drives the chemicals into the root zone,” actor Alec Baldwin says in the film.
There’s no doubt that building and maintaining golf courses have involved practices — including heavy water use, pesticides, tree-clearing and habitat fragmentation — that are harmful to the environment. The golf industry, however, is becoming more environmentally responsible, and it has the potential to play a positive role.
The major golfing bodies have established partnerships with leading national and local environmental groups. They have worked to cultivate disease and pest-resistant turf grasses, establish organic-turf courses, develop water conservation strategies, and protect habitat for native plant and wildlife species.
It still may not be a great idea to site a golf course in a drought-prone area. But golf and the environment don’t have to be in conflict. As biologist John MacKinnon has written, “Golf courses can serve as miniature nature reserves, harbouring local resident populations of otherwise endangered species, stepping stones for species dispersal and migration. Golf courses provide green breathing spaces in a concrete landscape.”
Leonard Shapiro retired from The Washington Post in 2011 after 41 years as a sports reporter, editor and columnist. He covered professional golf for 20 years and is a past president of the Golf Writers Association of America.