Golf

Everyday when I’m back at my parent’s place in California I walk Monty, my dog. His name is short for Monte Ellis, the old point guard for the Warriors, I forget what team he is on these days. I walk Monty down the desolate streets of suburbia and through a half-mile length of the Iron Horse Trail, a paved recreational stretch that runs throughout a good chunk of the East Bay. One part, which is just north of my house, cuts right through a golf course and is protected from the hail provided by the sport by patches of fencing.

As I stroll lackadaisically down the no man’s land between the early course’s holes I wonder what it would be like if the soft green was torn up, stripped and replaced by a slew of public arenas such as parks, soccer fields and grassy knolls. My head begins to fume a small bit by the unrealized conclusion my imagination comes to. Blood begins to simmer as I see a mere four grey-haired men driving down the course, seemingly comprising a third of all those in use of the 18-hole expanse.

It’s a unabashed representation of the waste and affluence of western society. Not only does the affluence rear its head with the membership fees for the club (the one I walk by is $215 a month), but also in the prevalent use of a caddie, what is essentially an encouraging servant to the player. Then the sport asks of the player to purchase an array of ten or more golf clubs in order to have a chance at playing the game well.

It’s even become a likely place of casual business for suits as they swat golf balls. Because even during breaks they have to find some way to feel that they’re doing something.

Of course not everyone needs a caddie, nor do they need to be a member within the golf clubs, but even so the prevalence of these aspects in golf culture indicate a leaning toward a higher class. One could make the rebuttal of other sports having a higher cost to get into, such as snowboarding or skiing, and I’d agree that those sports may cost more, but it seems a much more engaged arena then that of the hit-and-drive culture that I see in golf while being played on a course that’s partial reason for existence is to be largely empty. Snow sports are also not strewn throughout suburban communities where it’s easy to use the land for something entirely different.

George Carlin has an good bit on golfing. He definitely does a bit more jabbing than I think may be comfortable for those who like golfing, but there are nuggets of truth in most of the statements he is exclaiming about.

The amount of land being utilized for golfing can be a bit murky. It’s hard (at least as far as I’ve found) to come upon reliable data for the amount of acreage used in total for golf courses in America. But what isn’t too hard to find is the number of courses that exist. America, with 15,372 courses, holds 45 percent of the world’s golf course total. 15,372 is a staggering number, especially when paired with the suggested size for a golf course which is 110 to 190 acres.

That’s around 2 million acres if you average the size and multiply it by all the courses in America. That’s 2/3rds of Connecticut.

George Carlin angles golf courses as a supposed solution to our homeless problem in his stand-up, but even just not having golf courses and designating the spaces (in urban areas at least) to open and public greenbelts would be a better change. Maybe it doesn’t need to be greenbelts with swaths of grass, maybe instead it’s a spattering of parks, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, etc.?

I don’t care for golf, I think that’s clear. That’s why it’s so easy for me to say this, but I don’t think it’s easy to defend the sport if you’re partial to it. Does it have a right to exist? I suppose. Should it? I can’t think of too many reasons why.

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