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Golfers and greenies unite

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Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore have popularized a misperception of golf as a game played by rich white guys who wear funny clothes, bet large amounts of money, drink too much, and regularly invent new terms of profanity. There certainly are golfers whose sense of ecosystem management is having sufficient Cuban cigars to play 18 holes. However, golfers potentially represent a revenue-rich ally for environmentalists.

As Tony Davis details in his Aug. 21 article, "Have golf’s glory days gone by?" there have been several examples of golf gulping gallons of precious water in the desert. However, in 2006, better agronomy and science practices by course designers and superintendents have lessened the flow. During golf’s 500-year history, golf courses have been the most consistently managed large ecosystems in world history. Around the world, golf courses are oftentimes the only large landscapes available to birds, game and diverse flora.

From years of being an environmentalist, serving in the Clinton administration as director of the Bureau of Land Management and teaching at several universities and colleges, I like to encourage new alliances. There certainly have been conflicts between environmentalist and golfers in the past, and undoubtedly there will be more in the future. However, there are much greater shared values between the two groups than there are conflicts.

Patrick Shea

Salt Lake City, Utah

Director of Bureau of Land Management, 1997-’99
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