Golf course designed to sink


The golf course I grew up on was only nine holes, but it was stunningly beautiful in the rolling hills of a southern Minnesota river valley and our community was very proud of what we had. People drove from neighboring states just to play our course. If I wasn't golfing I was an employee working the pro-shop. When I went to college, I was offered a golf scholarship to play on the women's golf team, and I began dreaming of turning pro and to ultimately design and build golf courses.
But, over time, I came to see golf in another light. For example, tee boxes based on gender and age felt sexist and ageist. Terminology such as 'handicap' (numbers assigned to players less skilled), 'shank,' 'bomb and gouge,' struck me as unaware, unevolved and insensitive. And in the southwest states golf courses demand and are delivered everyone else's much needed water supply. Emerald green in the brown desert scape feels elitist. I was now seeing golf as an institution that did not align with my ethos and definitely not woke to social and environmental justice.
The environment suffers from the vast quantities of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers golf courses use for 'turf control.' The Material Safety Data Sheets (M.S.D.S.) state these products as "extreme health hazards with Eco-Acute Toxicity to fish, birds, invertebrates, algae, and bees." How many pounds of this poison does the golf course deliver into Lake Hiawatha, Minnehaha Creek, Mississippi River and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico? This is a question and pollution problem that needs to be addressed.
Friends of Lake Hiawatha (FOLH) are volunteers who work to restore the ecology and history of the land and lake. They have found hundreds of abandoned golf balls while picking up the endless stream of trash left by humans. An estimated 1.2 billion golf balls are manufactured every year while 300 million are lost every year. These balls are made from butadiene rubber (BFGoodrich tire rubber) and surlyn, which is a thermoplastic and polymer of ethylene acid. All extremely caustic. Plus, golf ball production consumes over 20,000 tons of polybutadiene per year. All these caustic chemicals leach into the ground and water and are then pumped (I call it a bail out) from the 140-acre course into Lake Hiawatha (and all downstream) at a volume of 400 million gallons per year in violation of state regulations and good neighbor etiquette.
It does not require an engineer to know we need to reconsider the lay of this land and what is best for it. The original wetlands of Rice Lake was actually a perfect design. As a matter of fact, large cities are wanting to create and mimic wetlands for use in their infrastructures. Restoring the ecology and history of Lake Hiawatha (plus surrounds) back to Rice Lake topography is the sustainable solution and the fiduciary responsibility of we the people.
Don't build what will need to be bailed out. There can be no pride in that.
Lynn Ford


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