Are you looking for a way to waste a beautiful afternoon? Here’s a suggestion: Dress in a tacky, easter-egg colored shirt and khakis and spend $1,000 a month to hit small white balls around an empty field. You guessed it — I’m talking golf!
I hate golf. It’s up there with mayonnaise and low-rise jeans for me. And, maybe, (as you’ve seen above) I can get petty and personal about it. But my disdain for this pathetic excuse of a sport goes beyond my personal dislike for Generally Boring Things. It’s bad in every other way possible. It checks no boxes. And I want it gone.
Someone once said “golf is a good walk spoiled.” Commonly attributed to Mark Twain, this quote gets at the essence of my hatred of golf: so much potential down the drain. A good walk, perhaps, a community garden, a park, housing or just good old nature. Spoiled.
Why am I ranting, unprovoked, about this game? Can’t I let people enjoy things? No.
First of all, if you want to enjoy something, golf is not what you’re looking for. Try bowling. Second of all, (though I find it hard to believe that people can get any sort of enjoyment out of what I consider to be the second most boring game in the world after “Competitive Laundry Folding,” a game that I invented to motivate me to fold my laundry) that enjoyment comes at a steep price for the environment (among other things).
Let’s start with the obvious: golf is so ugly. The uniform looks straight out of a Sears catalogue from 2004 — and though I can’t claim to be an argyle hater, it suddenly becomes the most despicable print in the world set against the backdrop of that monotonous sea of neatly-cut green. That lawn! The lawn might be the worst part. Rolling hills of .125” long grass, flooded with fertilizers and pesticides to preserve that striking green color that seems to go on for miles. I don’t mind green--in fact, it’s my favorite color. But there’s something tragic about driving past a golf course, peering in through the obnoxious gate that’s probably erected around it, and seeing only one shade of green. Where is the life? Where is the variety?
I can tell you: the life, the biodiversity that once existed on that land, was destroyed for the sake of that eyesore of a lawn. And it was destroyed just so that a bunch of country clubbers could mess around in a golf cart and play a racist, sexist “sport” rooted in colonialism and classism.
The biggest crime that golf commits is the toll it takes on the environment. Here are the facts: US golf course irrigation uses an average of 2.08 billion gallons of water per day, with a standard 18-hole course using about 312,000 gallons per day. To put that in perspective: that’s over 315,151 Olympic swimming pools down the drain every single day. Just for the aesthetic.
And that’s not the end of it. To maintain that aesthetic, golf courses waste enormous amounts of fuel on mowing the grass as well as majorly contributing to pesticide and fertilizer runoff — which has deadly environmental consequences. Golf courses are essentially monocultures, which have been proven again and again to be harmful to the environment. And, what’s worse, do you know where all those golf balls that go missing end up? The ocean. The ocean is polluted with an estimated 300 million golf balls in the United States alone.
The creation of the golf course might be even worse than its upkeep: what needs to happen to create those smooth, rolling hills? Deforestation and habitat destruction. The golf course created for the Rio Olympics was within the Marapendi Environmental Protection Area, and its creation destroyed the homes of 238 species. This happens with every single golf course that is created. But it isn’t just about animals. Golf courses privatize public land, displacing locals, and creating inaccessible space that could have been used as a community garden or park, or, even better, land for housing or sustainable farming to help solve problems of hunger and houselessness.
But why would we do that if we could instead play a game that’s not only boring and expensive, but also rooted in colonialism, racism and sexism?
Yeah. The harm of the game extends beyond its sins against our already suffering earth. Golf originated in 15th century Scotland and spread beyond Europe during colonialism. The sport was used as a way to “unify” the colonies in European culture, which is a thinly veiled way to say that golf was a tool of cultural imperialism.
When golf reached the United States, it strayed away from being a game exclusively for the elite as the white middle class began to play. Key word: white. The history of golf is steeped in racism. In fact, the Masters, one of the biggest private invitational tours in golf, didn’t invite a Black person to compete until 1975, when Lee Elder was invited. 1975. Only 46 years ago.
Even more recently, in 2012, did the club finally allow female members. Golf continues to be exclusionary, used often as a space to make important business deals — deals that can’t be made if you don’t have access to the game. Expensive, sexist, racist, exclusionary, and a contributor to one of my least favorite things (capitalism), there just doesn’t seem to be a single redeeming quality.
Now, after spending paragraph upon paragraph outlining the catastrophe that is the game of golf, I make my plea: it’s time to abolish golf. It has done its damage, and the rewards were sparse: an exclusive, dull game used as a tool by the wealthy to make business deals or socialize. If you’re among the minority that genuinely enjoys the game of golf, I ask you this: are you lying to yourself? Please consider these much better options:
Wii Sports Golf: Wastes no land, is infinitely more fun and you get a cute avatar that you can customize. And the weather is always perfect.
Mini Golf/Putt Putt Golf: Wastes only a miniscule fraction of the land that regular golf does, is infinitely more fun, cool obstacle courses, cheap and accessible.
Just get a more interesting hobby: consider knitting or Competitive Laundry Folding.
So let’s do away with this game that I hesitate even calling a sport, because, as Tik Tok user Abbie Richards says, “There’s no sport you can play with a cigarette on your lips.” And instead, let’s use those 2 million acres of land in the US for literally anything else less destructive.
Sadie Wuertz is the Sports Editor of the Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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