Nothing has a greater influence on golf than the weather.
Regions in western North America have experienced severe drought conditions, while on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, Southern Alberta experienced massive flooding in 2013.
The central states and up into Ontario/Quebec have enjoyed the most wonderful summers in recent years and the Maritimes have had massive amounts of snow.
Across the Atlantic the United Kingdom is enduring all the rain California yearns for and, if California doesn’t get it soon, golf courses will be abandoned due to water restrictions and the grass will simply be blown away in the wind.
So who is to blame for these phenomena?
Some would have us believe that human beings have dumped so much garbage into the air that weather patterns are beginning to change.
Others contend they are naturally re-occurring cycles that evolve over centuries.
What I am sure of, regardless of which argument is right (perhaps both are), is there are two different subjects to be considered: climate change and pollution. Humans need to seriously think about both. We need to prepare for climate change and eliminate pollution.
We can do nothing about high and low air pressure areas, ocean currents or jet streams. However, we can become less dependant on fossil fuels, control our use of chemicals/pesticides and better manage our water consumption.
Golf courses bring tremendous ecological advantages to the earth such as the protection of open spaces and the production of oxygen from the growth of grass, trees and flowers, but how else can the golf industry contribute to the well-being of the earth and its atmosphere?
We abide by this credo.
“We have not inherited this earth from our parents to do with it what we will. We have borrowed it from our children and we must be careful to use it in their interests as well as our own”.
Nothing will add to the speed of extinction of golf more than irresponsible water use and indiscriminate use of fertilizers/pesticides.
Golf courses are inaccurately portrayed as evil deliverers of toxic chemicals into rivers and streams due to “run-off.” Every golfer should be proud of the efforts made by the various golf course superintendents’ associations and the progress they have made to protect our future.
While much has been done, much more needs to be done.
We welcome the day when strains of grass are bred requiring next to no irrigation and less fertilizer, while providing an acceptable playing surface. Remember, brown is the new green.
Hopefully, accompanying these innovations is a reduction in maintenance costs because of slower growth cycles in fairways, roughs and greens, which in turn will help eliminate some of the expense consumed for fertilizers, equipment and labour. As custodians of the land and not the owners, we are responsible for its care through sound management.
People have climbed the mountain of life and looked over the other side. They liked what they saw but all that emerald green and abundant eating up of the gifts provided by the earth is a mirage.
It cannot continue at the current rate of consumption of natural resources, but perhaps, we can replace it with playing conditions that please us and in ways that the earth provides them with a decrease in pain to itself.
It is incumbent on each of us to put a halt to ruinous acts of pollution and disregard for exhausting all non-renewable resources by setting an example for others.
Perhaps in doing so, we might derail the possibility that humans are to blame for global warming/climate change. In the same vein, we must also reduce the amount of pollution we produce. We owe it to ourselves, to our children and to the earth.
In doing so, perhaps we can convey the message to other agriculture-based businesses and people by educating the non-golfing public that golf courses are protectors of the environment and do make good neighbors.
The golf industry and golfers in general should spearhead the movement toward this initiative. Since we (golfers) believe that we are not villains and we do subscribe to practices beneficial to the environment, we should be leading the troops.
We should not only set the example, we should encourage others to follow it. We know we have right message.
Let’s help spread the word.