Golf is taking a lot of flack these days -- and so it should.
From soaring rates of cart accidents to second-guessing their right to drain our water resources and even taking the issue of golf as a pleasurable activity to court (and winning!), everyone seems to be picking on the little (white, moneyed) guy.
Me, I have a love-hate relationship with golf -- or should I say golf courses. Like Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford, I feel that while "only God can make a tree, but golf course architects can make trees seem prettier, and golf course superintendents can make the grass greener, and the flowers brighter, so that even when you can't hit a fairway or sink a putt, a golf course certainly is an awfully lovely place to be frustrated." Or tired but tanned, meticulously pruning and mowing your way through an afternoon for $10 hour.
And, like Deford, I have seen first hand the environmental scourge that these oases of greenery are, by nature. Nevermind the pesticides flowing into waterways, or the gas spills that naturally occur when you put teenage boys behind the wheel of all-terrain vehicles and tell them 'quick, the Gator's out of gas and the first tee-off is in five minutes!'
No, it's the need for constant water that really plagues the regions that golf courses call home.
In the summer of 2003, while sitting out a summer, waiting for cracked pelvis to heal (another casualty of the golf industry: poor workplace safety records), I had a lot of time to look around my mountain town of Invermere, B.C. -- and watch it wither away for lack of water.
This was the same summer that saw B.C. break record after record for high heat, drought, and, of course, forest fires.
So while I absorbed the rays from my balcony, the bush and trees were dying and igniting. From Google maps it must've looked like Armageddon. I know that as I passed through Banff National Park in late August (that is, after an hour of waiting -- with the threat of fire so high, they could only let traffic pass through in spurts), I put on "The End" by the Doors and imagined it all falling away...
Though Deford insists that the golf industry is beginning to understand that it's fundamentally unsustainable, I'm doubtful. New grasses that require less moisture? Overseeding 'frowned upon'? There's only so far that recycled water can go, my friend, and fostering the notion that man can (and will!) control nature will be an uphill climb -- with a heavy load of metal sticks.
I call on golfers to follow the lead of Henry Rachfalowski, the financial executive who shunned golf -- and shocked his colleagues -- by refusing to golf. He not only set a precedent for individuals who are taxed on benefits they don't enjoy, but he also got people saying ... outloud, everyone, 'Don't you hate golf??'
Maybe this could be their swan song...
(I can see it: black ash raining down on their golf umbrellas as bit their lip and straighten their plaid collars)
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
Ill never look into your eyes...again
-- The Doors