Golf Course Architecture - Issue 59, January 2020

1 Enviro bueno I ’ve written about golf and the environment many times over the years and there’s a part of me that thinks I shouldn’t have still to be doing so now. But that’s life, I guess; one of my first bosses told me that it didn’t matter how many times I had written about a particular subject, I still had a duty to make the content as fresh and interesting as I could, because there would always be someone in the audience who was reading that message for the first time. Those of us in the golf business have a right to be pretty proud of some of the things that have been done to improve the game’s record of environmental stewardship. When, as we still do too often, we hear uninformed voices spouting about golf ’s tendency to destroy ecosystems and waste resources, we are entitled to have a little rant under our breaths – ‘Get with the picture and stop living thirty years in the past’. But reality is a little more nuanced. I have said before that comparisons with agriculture – ‘Oh we use far less chemicals than the farmers’ – are both futile and frankly offensive. Humans need to eat. They don’t need to play golf. And the truth is that, however much we have improved, we need, every day and in every way, to continue getting better. In a world with a rapidly increasing population, with demands on land for housing and food growth (which, remember, are necessary in a way that golf cannot be), golf has no automatic right to continue existing. In countries like Japan and South Korea, because of land pressure, golf has been pushed onto sites that are far, far from optimal land for the game, rocky mountainsides among them. But how is this different from golf ’s roots on the links of eastern Scotland? Those sandy areas were only available to pioneer golfers because their poor soil could not support arable agriculture, or even grazing animals in any great numbers. Similarly the lowland heath of southern England, the first great inland home of our game; these were properties that were worth very little for any other purpose, and so the golfers were able to use them. WELCOME ADAM LAWRENCE