Mar 11, 2014

Golf is Green: Eco-Aspirations, Celebrations & The Masters a la Mode

A week from now we'll be celebrating St. Patrick's Day, the yearly ode to Irishness, that brings Americans of all backgrounds together around heaping plates of corned beef and cabbage. We hold massive parades and host raucous parties. Many engage in lugubrious behavior... sometimes while dressed like leprechauns.

The color green is of course, an indelible part of any contemporary St. Patrick's Day celebration. Food and drink... as well as a number of major lakes and rivers... are dyed an unlikely shade of lime on March 17th, as is just about anything/everything else one might imagine.

The thing is, green is a highly emotive color. Beyond a natural association with the Emerald Isle... and its primary patron saint... green evokes nature. It's a color that symbolizes rebirth, growth and the hopefulness of Spring.

No major sport is more closely linked with a color than golf is with green.

During most of the last century... and nearly a decade of this one... golf courses became ever more lush and verdant. Herbicides, pesticides and copious amounts of H20 allowed for the cultivation of implausible emerald landscapes which ultimately became the goal superintendents aspired to... and the standard golfers grew to expect. Over the past several years however, there's been a distinct shift towards sustainability and environmental stewardship, with course designers, superintendents and golfers acknowledging... and often embracing... the need to create, maintain and enjoy courses that have a positive affect on their surroundings.  The recent announcement that Trump Golf was pursuing Audubon certification for all of its courses is a hopeful sign that the tide has turned, given Trump's past history of altercation with environmentalists.

Golf in the US is clearly getting greener... greener in the good sense... and there's every reason to believe this trend will continue.  Which brings me to the Masters.  Augusta National is not certified for sustainability, nor, would I imagine, is it pursuing a "brown is the new green" strategy, however there's an ongoing effort, backed up by a very substantial budget, to recycle water, reduce runoff and maintain the reforestation and tree mulching efforts... and in just a couple of weeks the iconic course will be welcoming lucky patrons and guests to the Masters. Having attended the tournament once (in 2011) I'll admit to pining for the planet to properly align so that I can go back. In the meantime, for those readers who've written to me recently about what to wear in at the Masters this year, I created the graphic above. Needless to say, I'm green with envy.


  1. Augusta syndrome has casual golfers expecting/demanding to always have the kind of lush green course that can only be achieved with overseeding, extensive watering and who knows what else. We don't expect our neighborhoods to look like Disneyland and we shouldn't expect our courses to look like Augusta National. Until people understand this they'll continue to pressure courses to do what ever it take to Augustafy.

  2. So global-warming-truther Donald Trump now sees that an eco-friendly attitude might be a better business proposition than one that belittles environmentalists? I guess that does constitute progress in some sense.

  3. I really like the St. Patrick's themed golf wear! It's pretty hard to find such a variety like this one. It's been really nice to see everyone back out on the links this last week. The minute the snow was melted I started seeing the golf carts roll out onto the course for the spring.

    Luke |

  4. I was playing golf last week and a groundsman was using some sort of pesticide that required him wearing a mask. My friend and I said to each other as we rolled by him in our golf cart (he was less than 50 feet from where we were), "should we be wearing a mask as well?!" I was surprised that he was there while golfers were on the course playing. In any event, glad to hear that some clubs are moving toward greener solutions. I love a beautifully green course, but I'd be happier knowing I'm not taking a shot exactly where a groundsman had just sprayed pesticides. Thanks for sharing!


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