How to treat golf course greens

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Vineyard Golf Club
Vineyard Golf Club of Martha's Vineyard earns kudos without a drop of chemicals
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A new movement of how to treat golf course greens keeps your course

Golf course greens have an appeal as picturesque natural environments.  In fact, many golfers are drawn to the sport primarily because of the beauty of the courses, which boast rolling hills, plush green  grass, wooded areas, sand pits, lakes, ponds, streams and even manicured gardens. 

Diligent golfers are careful to wear the appropriate golf shoes, replace divets and follow golf course green protocol to preserve perfectly manicured greens.

Ironically, however the beauty of golf course greens can be misleading, because they are typically areas treated most heavily with toxic pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.  

One example of a particularly dangerous pesticide being used on golf course greens is Methyl bromide, which is typically used when courses are resurfaced.  According to the EPA, human exposure to too much Methyl bromide can cause serious skin irritations, respiratory failure, nausea, some forms of cancer, and it can even lead to death and fetal birth defects.

Harmful pesticides such as Methyl bromide, or other chemicals, can easily wash into the ground water, wells, or other public water supplies.  In addition to the chemicals required to maintain golf courses, the creation of golf courses often requires clear cutting and the destruction of  natural habitats.  Golf course management also requires enormous quantities of water to keep the manicured grass looking lush and healthy.  

These mounting concerns about golf course care have become a hot button issue for environmentalists, and thankfully, the golf industry is finally starting to address these concerns.  Change is on the horizon.  It is tee-time for organic golf courses.     

One significant step in the right direction came in 2008, when the Golf Digest Magazine ran a special issue titled “An In-Depth Look at Golf and the Environment.”  More recently, the International Audubon Foundation has recently launched programs for golf courses who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment and meet their high standards of care.  The National Golf Course Owners Association has also begun to enforce water supply and water conservation regulations.  

In fact, many organic golf courses around the world are finally getting the praise and press that they deserve.  The Vineyard Golf Club of Martha's Vineyard, MA, has earned kudos as the only course in the United States to operate without a drop of chemicals.  Other organic golf courses striving toward similar measures around the world include The Bear Creek Golf Course in Washington state, The Resort at Squaw Creek Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, the New Malton Golf Club in Great Britain and the Kabi Golf Course in Australia.

Increasing environmental pressure, and rising public awareness, will continue to propel this exciting shift among top golfers and the entire golf industry.

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