Last Updated on Monday, 12 July 2010 17:55 Monday, 12 July 2010 17:36
The negative perception about golf courses harming the environment is one that must change if the industry is going to thrive in the decades to come.
It is more important than ever that everyone who works in the golf industry does what he or she can to change the way golf courses are seen in the public eye.
Golf industry employees must speak with knowledge about the good things that facilities are doing to benefit local economies (a recent study by the National Golf Course Owners Association revealed golf creates 11 billion dollars of industry in Canada) and the environment.
In the town where I live there is a golf course project that has been shut down for nearly 2 years. Local newspapers speak of how this development destroyed the land by clear-cutting the forest for nothing other than the developer’s own greed.
What a lot of people fail to realize is that before the destruction of the forest began the property was slated to be a housing development. Those trees were going to come down regardless of what the development was going to entail.
Attitudes seem to change as people realize that 200 acres of green space in the form of a golf course is better than 200 acres of rooftops and roads.
The next argument is that golf courses pollute the environment through the overuse of fertilizers, pesticides and water. This is where the education of the public needs to kick in. The negative connotation of golf courses lies in the erroneous perception about the overuse of these resource inputs.
As an industry we must work together to educate the public that golf courses do not use as much fertilizers as people think.
Recent developments in fertilizer technology and agronomic research have taught us that grass can remain healthy with a minimal amount of fertilizers as long as they are applied at the right time and in the proper amounts.
Most superintendents apply nutrients on a spoon-feeding basis, which is to say that fertilizers are applied in incremental proportions, as required by the turf. This allows for very little runoff and no leaching into groundwaters.
Pesticides are applied on an as needed basis as well. Pesticides that are registered for use in Canada must pass stringent testing procedures to ensure they will not cause harm to humans or the environment when used according to label rates.
The argument that we do not know enough about pesticides to ensure safety is valid as we once thought cigarettes were harmless; although I do not know of any studies that show an increase in the rate of diseases such as cancer for professions that use pesticides on a regular basis.
Water use on golf courses is another contentious issue especially when you consider the fact that a water crisis is going to hit by 2025 if it has not hit already. Existing golf courses and those slated for construction should seriously consider the use of reclaimed water for irrigation purposes.
Reclaimed water comes from sewage treatment plants and is treated 3 times or more before it is used for irrigation. This is an excellent way to get rid of sewage water as opposed to dumping it into local waterways. A win-win situation is created as the turf gets what it needs and the rivers do not get what they do not need.
As part of the certification process in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, properties must gain accreditation in the Outreach and Education category. This means educating golfers and the public in general about the environmental good deeds performed by golf courses.
We must be honest with people when it comes to discussing the way courses are maintained and explain that the use of fertilizers, pesticides and water is necessary to keep the turf alive.
In most cases the land where courses exist is a much better option than housing developments where untrained homeowners will maintain their properties using more inputs per acre than any golf course superintendent will ever use.
About The Writer:
Rick Munro has been working in the golf course maintenance and construction industry for the past 20 years and has professional certificates in Turfgrass Management, Environmental Management of the golf course as well as Golf Course Construction and Design from the University of Guelph.
Rick is the principal of an Environmental Consulting business called GREENSIDE Environmental Services specializing in Audubon certification aid for golf courses.
Greenside Environmental Services
Are You Inside Golf?
By Rick Munro
Rick Munro has been working in the golf course maintenance and construction industry for the past 20 years and has professional certificates in Turfgrass Management, Environmental Management of the golf course as well as Golf Course Construction and Design from the University of Guelph. Rick is the principal of an Environmental Consulting Business called GREENSIDE Environmental Services, specializing in Audubon certification aid for golf courses.http://atthegreenside.blogspot.com