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mcashlv

Golf Courses: Desirable or wasteful use of resources?

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Do we need any more golf courses? Currently there is a general overabundence of golf courses nationwide. Are they a desirable amenity or an extravagant and ecologically unsound waste of land and water resources?

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They are a waste of space and incredibly unfriendly to the environment... but they also generate a lot of revenue throgh tourism. My guess is that there will be more constructed.

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I am not a golfer, but since a lot of people enjoy the game it is unfair to call it a "waste of space." I think the key is placement. If they are away from the urban environment, on land that isn't being used otherwise, then what is the problem? A downtown golf course, or one in a highly populated area on prime land, is another matter entirely.

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They are a waste of space and have a horrible effect on the environment. The beautiful grass is a dead eco system where all grass clippings are removed, so the nutrients are replaced by chemical fertilizers which kills all of the earthworms and other healthy organisms in the ground, which requires more chemicals. All of this crap ends of as runoff from the millions of gallons of fresh water used to irrigate them. More times than not, these golf courses are surrounded by McMansions with similar yards.

All so upper class white men in designer clothes can hit a little ball.

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I love golfing, and wish they would build more courses. :) One of the reasons South Carolina is such a tourist destination is because of our golf courses.

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Golf is a great recreation sport for locals and tourists. Greenville doesn't do enough in general to market our outdoor attractions. I did work at a golf course for two years and I will admit that we did do a lot of negative things to the environment. I think we have the right amount of courses in Greenville at the moment and there is no need for anymore.

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Tourism is the main drive behind them (no pun intended). With the mountain backdrop, I wouldn't be surprised to see more golf courses in the northern parts of Greenville, Spartanburg and Pickens counties.

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I love golfing, and wish they would build more courses. :) One of the reasons South Carolina is such a tourist destination is because of our golf courses.

This area is well regarded as a golfer's destination. I happen to love the sport, though it came after much agonizingly frustrating practice. The reason I stuck with it was because it was one of the best ways to grow closer to my dad, my brother, and my grandpa. We spent many days enjoying life together amidst some of the most beautiful scenery imagineable. I say building golf course communities are worth every penny, if they are well kept.

I can say from personal experience that I know people of numerous races and colors who enjoy the game together without any disharmony. Beyond personal experience, I have also witnessed PGA events that are multinational, multicultural, and multiracial, and many of the best are not white men. Sure, there is likely a higher percentage of white men and women playing today, but that is changing every year, as the sport grows and becomes more popular around the globe. [Edit: Addition to further legitimize comment] This fact is one of the reasons I personally think building more courses is a good thing. It should not be a one-race/one-nationality sport, and it is another useful method to help cross the invisible boundaries of different cultures.

I am proud of the options available in and around Greenville to play golf. :wub:

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All so upper class white men in designer clothes can hit a little ball.

Seems kinda clear to me.

I remember the huzza's on this site when Gary Player announced he was coming to town with another Cliff's development. Seems like lots of folks were pretty much everything having to do with the Cliff's developments.

In recent years, the Millstone course has closed down, as has the Hillandale, but the addition of the Cliff's developments has made up for the loss of those course which were either not run well, or didn't meet a market need. Seems in most places in the Upstate, the market is deciding on the success or failure of most golf courses.

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That is a good article. I checked out others through one of the provided links under the body, and this one by the USGA makes some very interesting points about the environmental issues as well. It is clearly not something we should neglect. The pressure is on the golf course owners to make the right decisions that will keep the game of golf successful while protecting the environment. I for one am willing to play on a chemical-free course anyday. The game itself shouldn't be ruined by environmentally-negative actions, as it has for many decades.

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I wonder what's worse on the environment... golf courses or strip malls?

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As someone who works in the golf industry I can tell you that the number of golf course openings in the US has declined from a high of around 800 in the late 1990's to about 150 last year. Moreover, the US has averaged about 50-60 golf course closings the past 4-5 years.

The reasons for this decline are: (1) golf particpation has been relatively flat since the "Tiger Woods" phenomenon of the late 90's; (2) golf course real estate is more valuable than the golf course itself; (3) Many markets are overbuilt with golf courses; (4) The cost of operating a golf course keeps going up and up.

Most new courses being constructed today are in conjunction with a real estate development. There are very, very few "public" courses opening these days.

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Golf courses have lots of envrionmental benefits. I would go so far as to say that since the growth of golf courses in the US since the early 20th century, no other institution in urban and suburban areas has done more for environmental health than golf courses. They offer all sorts of benefits.

Urban greenspace is provided for. Augusta National, for one famous example, was a run down orchard that was slated to be sold and perhaps used for industrial uses.

Much of the early research in composting and other natural recycling methods was done by golf course superintendents.

Lots of university research indicates that pesticides and fertilizers in golf course do not end up into ground water in appreciable levels.

Golf course have done wonders to prevent urban soil erosion.

Birds and other wildlife have sanctuaries that they would not otherwise have in urban and suburban setting were it not for golf courses.

Communities use them for recreation, charity events and to build tax bases. It's long been a frequent lament that parts of Northern Greenville County have slower response times for EMS/Fire/Police services. Expanded tax bases go a long way towards alleviating that issue.

I would say that the envriomental benefits of golf courses have far, far outweighed their negatives over the last 100 years.

Have some unscrupulus developers, in a push to get as many course created and built used envriomentally bad methods in recent years? Yep. Lots of those course that cut courses tend to either not last long or have managment that quickly changes. But I'll take the envrionmental benefits of say, Verdae Greens, over the environmental benefits of the shops at Greenridge.

I think the Cliff Developments, for example, will do wonders for the long term envriomental health of otherwise often badly maintained land in Northern Greenville County. The Greenville Country Club courses, along the Reedy River areas, have done wonders for preventing soil erosion and managing the land.

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I simply don't see where a nice manicured golf course, where just one species of plant is allowed to live in a chemically maintained environment, is better than a natural park setting that is as close to nature as possible. Golf courses produce a great deal of pollution, the processes used to maintain them are intensive greenhouse producers, and the runoff from all of the chemicals are destroying other environments far away from the places.

And golf courses being built today are there to support the building of huge unsustainable McMansions, which in themselves are another big problem. Combine the two together, a gold course and a mcmansion neighborhood, and you have a double whammy of wasteful and unsustainable living.

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The federal government is the largest polluter (by far) in the United States. The military, for example, can declare sovereign immunity and doesn't have to follow EPA guidelines. If we're really concerned about pollution and the environment, we'll stop letting the government control so much of it (otherwise, it's like letting the fox control the hen house, is it not?)

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This is somewhat unrelated; however, if you're going to talk about waste of resources and the impact on our environment...I, personally, would like to see a study done on the environmental impact and waste resulting from drive-through windows at fast food restaurants, drug stores, drycleaners, etc.. I try to park and walk in every chance I get. I hate drive-throughs. At least with a golf course, people can get out and get some exercise to burn off those calories that they consume at the fast food joints.

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This is somewhat unrelated; however, if you're going to talk about waste of resources and the impact on our environment...I, personally, would like to see a study done on the environmental impact and waste resulting from drive-through windows at fast food restaurants, drug stores, drycleaners, etc.. I try to park and walk in every chance I get. I hate drive-throughs. At least with a golf course, people can get out and get some exercise to burn off those calories that they consume at the fast food joints.

I agree. Do you know how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere every year from people sitting at drive thru's. :shok:

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Certainly golf courses have some negative effects on the envirionment, but so does just about everythign we do. It has to be much better than putting up a strip mall, factory, new road, or even a subdivision. There is a lot of wildlife on a golf course, thousands of times what there is in a strip mall. Golf courses use an internalized water system, which is the real reason the have creeks and ponds, (not just so they can collect free golf balls). I do think it causes problems when people go to the desert Southwest and try to build them in aplace that only gets an inch or two of rain per year. That is almost like building levees to keep water out of a city that is built below sea level. Oh, wait a munite..... we do that too. They are largely based on money, just like everything else in our country. Where there are people with money who want them, they will be built. Like someone else said, very few of the new ones are public. Building them is not as good as leaving land uncut and undisturbed, but it is much better than paving over the land to erect concrete, metal, and plastic structures that lead to incredible pollution and waste. :D

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Whether you like them or not, golf courses are her to stay... and due to the huge shift in demographics in our country currently taking place, alot more are coming.

In my mind...

On the pro side...

...they provide a viable, enjoyable source of recreation for a demographic that has difficult-to-meet recreational needs

...they provide open space, something sorely missing in many developed areas

On the con side...

...pollution, loads of it

In our overly-litigious society, I'm surprised that golf courses haven't been taken to task for their polluting ways. It's probably only a matter of time until it happens. Because of the money and dynamics involved, I tend to doubt that even a few pricey lawsuits will change much. (Nearby properties that are forced to deal with pollutant issues are often those that benefit the most from the financial advantages of being close to a golf course.)

At some point some kind of regulations may need to be passed to limit the types and amounts of fertilizers permitted on golf courses, especially in developed and/or critical watershed areas. As golf hits its heydey in the next twenty years, this will be something even more important.

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We have a thread here to discuss this topic. Back to golf courses and the environment.

Thanks, Marc! I had no idea this thread existed as I tend to be pretty myopic in just keeping up with the threads that pertain to my immediate surroundings (whether it be here in Greenville or wherever I am whilst on the road).

You know, now that I think about it, perhaps this golf course topic should be moved out onto the more main-stream forums and turned into a poll, too? I really don't see what this particular topic has to do specifically with Greenville development? :whistling:

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My random thoughts on golf courses:

I personally hate golf and think its one of the most boring things one can do, but that is strictly my opinion. And it doesn't really promote any form of exercise, as a lot of golfers use the golf carts and take the little physical activity involved in the game right out of it.

The comment about golf courses and white men, this is an over generalization at best. Plenty of different people play plenty of different sports. Just because the majority are white doesn't mean this is a bad thing. One could say the majority of basketball players are black, it's irrelevant and over-generalized. Public courses tend to cater to all walks of life, it's the private country clubs that, like most private clubs, tend to give off that white elitist attitude that everyone despises.

What annoys me most about golf courses (and home sprinkler systems) is the amount of water used to keep them up, and the fact that the sprinklers are on timers and go on even when it's just rained, or while it's raining. Even worse is when there's a water ban and these courses still have nice green grass.

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I believe a lot of the golf courses in the Grand Rapids area are not allowed to use Phosphurus in their fertilizers to keep it from running into the groundwater.

There is certainly more than one species of grass on golf courses. Usually the greens are a different variety from the fairways, and from the tee boxes. Then you have the grass in the roughs which is usually native grasses of the area and allowed to grow wild (and usually forbidden to drive your carts on). Then the out-of-bounds areas are usually the original landscape that was there before the golf course, with heavily wooded areas with ground cover so thick you'll never find your ball. Most of the courses around West Michigan also do an excellent job of maintaining wetlands, much moreso than a residential development would have. In fact, an area that contained underground abandoned gypsum mines in the City of Grand Rapids was recently converted into a beautiful course, since the land was too unstable to be used for much else.

I've witnessed more encounters with wildlife at golf courses (deer, hawks, racoon, badgers, beavers, Sandhill Crane, etc.) then I've seen at local parks.

And in Michigan, especially at the public courses, you're likely to see whites and blacks golfing, shoot even rednecks.

From my over 20 years of golfing, very few that I've seen are the chemically enhanced artificial environments like Augusta.

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The comment about golf courses and white men, this is an over generalization at best.

I stand corrected in my crude comment on the white men in their pretty clothes. It was inappropriate.

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