I have a deep-seated hatred for the game of golf.
Some call my feelings about the sport irrational. But I disagree.
I grew up in southern Arizona. As a child, I was about as horse crazy as it is possible to be.
A lot of golf courses dotted the desert landscape near where I grew up. When my family drove by them, I imagined filling those rolling, green landscapes with horses of every color.
Those tree-lined, green golf courses were the most lush, vibrant greenage this desert child had ever seen. To me, the golf courses brought to mind the Kentucky bluegrass that TV broadcasters rhapsodized about every Kentucky Derby Day.
And all that beautiful grass was wasted on old, rich men who rode around on golf carts and drank too much.
Developers added lots of new golf courses throughout Arizona in the late 1970s and early 1980s. My parents often ranted about the special tax breaks those developers received. And they griped about the added costs, traffic, and inconveniences that the “snowbirds” (our term for the out-of-state retirees who wintered in warmer climates) brought when they came to enjoy those courses.
We lived near a retirement community that was built around a golf course. In that little community, golf carts were street legal. (I kid you not.) And a large number of the “residents” drove cars with out-of-state plates. During the winter, my mother claimed food prices went up because retailers knew the snowbirds would pay more.
When I reached my teenaged years, I learned that the golf courses had adversely affected the water tables throughout my home state. We lived near Tucson and watched the Santa Cruz River, once a center of agriculture like cotton and citrus, recede until it was mostly dry all year. (Except for the devastating floods, which moved railroad tracks, destroyed homes, and ate away at the pecan fields along its banks.)
Where I grew up, we lived too far from town to be on any municipal water system. Instead, my father, stepfather, and grandfather pooled their resources to purchase surplus water tanks. They hauled water weekly to supply our households and livestock. Their route took them over fourteen miles of unimproved dirt roads. (And if you don’t believe me, check out “Basketball or Nothing” on Netflix. One of the episodes depicts a young Navajo athlete and his mother hauling water for their home. And that documentary was filmed in 2017-18.)
All of those experiences colored my perceptions of golf courses.
As an adult, all I see when I look at manicured fairways and putting greens is land that could be used to grow food and lots that could hold housing for needy families. I see water wasted to grow invasive species of grasses. Water that will take an enormous amount of money to reclaim because it’s full of pesticides and fertilizers needed to keep those damned courses growing.
I have a deep hatred of golf courses. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a golf course in the desert or one in an area with abundant water. I hate them.
I also know family or friends who enjoy golf and insist I would likely love the sport if I ever gave it a try.
I doubt that will happen in this lifetime.
(Photo by juan gomez on Unsplash)