During the winter months, I live in a Florida community that is touted as a nature preserve. I love seeing birds, alligators, flowers, etc., and biking on miles of secluded paths. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that it is also a golf community with three courses on-site and two more off-site. One of these courses is directly behind our house. I have come to hate the game of golf. Here are five reasons why.
Environment. The labor that goes into maintaining golf courses is incredible. To me, it seems like non-stop mowing and watering. Each morning, I hear noise from an endless stream of machines preparing courses for the day’s play. I read that the average golf course takes up 150 acres of land and uses 90 million gallons of water each year (not a typo). There are more than 34,000 golf courses worldwide. More than half of them are in the U.S. Worldwide, golf courses cover more than five million acres of land and use more than 13 trillion gallons of water. The impact of all this water is particularly devastating to dry states such as Nevada and Arizona which have water shortages and require even more water to keep those greens, green. In addition, most courses are “repaired” every so many years which entails killing the old grass and starting all over again. Consider the herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used on courses for everyday maintenance, as well as these periodic “refresher” exercises.
Also, the transformation of farmlands and wetlands into golf courses has altered the ecosystem in significant and damaging ways. It has eliminated indigenous flora and fauna. Environmentalists claim that the large numbers of golf balls found in water are harmful as well. These balls break down into microplastics which are detrimental to water quality and sea life.
Wildlife. Often golf courses were formerly habitats for mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies, and plants. Many of these creatures and plants have disappeared. Some wildlife have sought other places to survive. Naturalists claim that golf courses have resulted in fewer birds overall and some have been placed on the endangered list as a result. Also, hikers complain that areas that could have lent themselves to wonderful hiking trails have instead become yet more golf courses off limits to all but an elitist few.
Time and Money. Next, let’s review the time and money people spend playing golf. The average 18-hole game takes about four hours. Some people in the community where I live play five times a week—sometimes two rounds a day. That could mean 24 hours of game time in a week. Many of these same golfers practice, take lessons, or watch golf on TV after they finish their play. These golfers pay exorbitant prices to become members of the club and then pay fees each time they play. According to the National Golf Foundation, the average price of a round of golf is $61. That does not include the sometimes astronomical fees for joining a club (which can range from $3,000 to well over $150,000) or the cost of clubs, lessons, golf clothes, golf bags, cart rental and tees.
Conversations. Ok I realize since I’m anti-golf, I don’t find conversations about one’s golf game particularly interesting. But I can’t believe how boring cocktail parties become when the conversation—which it inevitably does—turns to golf. Is there anybody out there who is really interested in exactly what club was used on the sixth hole? Was it a difficult choice? Or whether the 13th green was hard or soft after last week’s rain?
Waste of Intellectual Resources. I keep thinking about what could happen if we harnessed all this time from ex-CEOs, CFOs, small business owners, etc., who spend half their waking hours on the course. What if even a portion of those hours were used working for Habitat for Humanity, tutoring kids, or working in some fashion to make the world a better place? It seems almost patently immoral for these golfers with impressive careers and valuable experience to spend so much time on the course. Maybe twice a week would be fine but seriously half your waking hours?
Please know that I am fully aware that I live in a glass house. I’m sure many would find my excessive reading of novels a complete waste of time. Perhaps they are right. Also, one might correctly ask why I chose to live in a golf community when I hate golf. Good question. I guess the answer is that the nature aspects of the community were such a plus, as well as the beach and other amenities, that they outweighed the focus on golf.
In summary, given the damage to the environment, wildlife, and the excessive time and money involved, I couldn’t agree more with the saying, “Golf is a good walk spoiled” which has been attributed to Mark Twain and a few others.
Maria Grant was principal- in-charge of the Federal Human Capital practice of an international consulting firm. Since she retired, she has focused on writing, reading, piano, kayaking, nature, gardening, and travel.