Mar 11, 2014

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

Early next week we'll be celebrating St. Patrick's Day,  Here in the US it's our yearly ode to Irishness, bringing 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. Every year on March 17,  one will encounter myriad items of food and drink... as well as a number of major lakes and rivers... dyed to an unlikely shade of lime.  I won't even go into the greenifying of bacon, beards, bagels and beagles, but believe me that happens too.

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.  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.