Subject: Golf
From: "M. S. O'Keeffe" <>
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 1997 18:17:52 -0700
May I add my two cents worth about golf?  I work as an environmental
consultant at the VERY green end of the spectrum  (also the very poor
end of the spectrum).  In general, it is true that golf courses are an
environmental abomination.  There is a real tendency to carve these
things out of bushland, or land better left for other purposes, like
farming.  Every time we lose good farm land for a golf course (or a
housing estate, or anything else for that matter) we lose some of our
capacity to feed ourselves.  Later, maybe more land will be cleared to
make up the loss.  As Susan pointed out, there are an awful lot of golf
courses going in everywhere- they are very costly to set up, in time,
labour, and all sorts of other resources.  A fairly cheap course in
Queensland may cost 4 million to get up and running.  As I say thats a
cheap one, and that sum does not include anything for the operation,
maintenance etc. once the punters are out there swinging.  Count all the
courses going in, if you can.  I really think this is one hell of a lot
of precious resources (land, labour, money, etc) being spent essentially
so that a small, elite group of (mostly well-to-do) people can try to
knock a plum sized ball into a number of holes.  Can you think of any
worthy causes, enterprises, etc etc etc that are going begging?  What
would they be able to achieve with 4 million dollars?  Here on the
dryest continent, golf courses continue to use phenomenal quantities of
water, and chemicals of all sorts, some of which end up causing problems
in the water which HASN'T been used by the golf courses. Drop in to the
Sunshine Coast in Queensland if you would like to see threatened
vegetation types being gobbled up by golf, while the local water bodies
take everything that runs off.  I am not suggesting that we deprive
golfers of their ability to indulge their pastime.  I am saying that
golf ought to be seen in pespective, for what it is- the expensive
recreation of a minority. It has been far too easy to whack golf courses
in here, there and everywhere.  Limits need to be set, and enforced. 
Encouraging those who construct courses to change their emphasis would
begin the process of redress.  It IS possible to design and run courses
in ways which are of positive environmental benefit, but no one is doing
it (that I am aware of).  Most people that golf are not pros, and my
impression is that most like the walk around in the fresh air, and would
probably love the chance to see some wildlife.  If we encouraged
designers to consider this motive, and STOP putting so much money into
greeeeeeen grass (it would be easier and cheaper to make it plastic)and
redirect it into building courses in appropriate locations, using local
vegetation and good sound environmental design principles...... someone
may take this approach some day, and I think they will find they have a
very popular course.  They might even end up setting the new standard.
Scott O'Keeffe
Centre for Conservation Biology, University of Queensland

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