By Sahar Ghaffari, LuxEco Editorial Assistant
After recently writing an article about Justin Timberlake’s newly reopened green golf course, Mirimichi, I began to dig deeper into the potential hazards that non-green golf courses pose and the ultimate cost that humankind and the environment will have to pay. One of the main and most talked about dangers of golf courses in recent years, has been the use of pesticides on golf course lawns.
So what’s the big deal with pesticides? Most golf courses employ pesticides in large quantities on their greens and fairways (in repeated treatments) in order to prevent pest problems. Rather than modifying their treatments to tackle specific problems, courses spray a cocktail of pesticides on their lawns; however this can lead to a dependency on the pesticides, in turn, necessitating more pesticides and a higher health risk to the public. In fact, one course in Long Island, New York was found to use four to seven times the average amount of pesticides used in agriculture, on a pound per acre basis.
These pesticides are not only a health danger to workers of golf courses or golfers, but to any nearby areas as well. Runoff and airborne drift carry the pesticides to close by neighborhoods and water sources and “pose health risks, both acute and chronic, from common cold like symptoms, nausea, dizziness, headaches, rashes, to birth defects, learning disabilities, infertility, leukemia, various cancers including brain cancer, breast cancer, [and] non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma”, says Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides. “Asthma rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed, and there are studies linking asthma to pesticides that are widely used on golf courses.”
A few ways golf courses can change their hazardous practice of pesticide use is through organic practices such as using native vegetation and grasses which are the most adaptable to local conditions, adding buffer zones to protect water sources or sensitive areas, using an irrigation system that reuses water, and designing a course to sustain the natural wildlife, all help to maintain a healthy and clean course for all to enjoy.