Grow a Golf Eco-Conscience
* Walk the land -- Use your own energy instead of that from the golf carts and enjoy all of the scenery.
* Hug the turf -- Replace divots and fix ball marks to help the grass and the maintenance crew.
* Lap the water -- Learn about how your course helps to protect the watershed, and appreciate firm-and-fast.
* Put it in the hole -- Put trash in its bin, recyclables in their bin and ask for more recycle bins on the course.
* Pack a bottle -- Not a water bottle that you buy in a 12-pack at the store, but a reusable one.
* Chitchat -- Talk with the course superintendent about what else you can do to help the course's ecosystem.
Whether in urban areas, such as Brainerd Golf Course, or part of a state park like the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, golf courses are part of the ecological system.
Golf course superintendents have been aware of that fact for decades. Over time, they've changed their ways of caring for the land in many ways, including the reduction of pesticide use and water consumption and the creation of natural habitats for native animals.
It's time more golfers adopted conservation ethics as well, according to Greg Lyman, the director of environmental programs for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
"I think golfers take a lot of things for granted, and I don't think they really understand the long-term value of the sport that they're passionate about," Lyman said. "The first thing I'd ask them to do is have somebody throw a bucket of water on them and wake them up."
Duck hunters, trout anglers and other sportsmen of the outdoors tend to advocate for wetland preservation, clean water and trail improvements to promote the long-term health of those activities. Lyman said golfers need to do the same.
"You need to have a conservation ethic about you," Lyman said. "For far too long, golfers have not been part of what makes a golf course a long-term environmental asset and haven't been a part of making that possible."
Lyman and the GCSAA, including members from many Chattanooga-area courses, are asking golfers to be more aware of the environment -- at least a little at a time -- and care for the course.
"There's still a lot to be learned," said Chattanooga Golf and Country Club superintendent Jeff Hollister. "We try to communicate with the members about all the things they can do to make their club better. There has been progress, and I've seen members helping other members keep the course in the best condition possible by reminding them to fill divots, fix ball marks and stay on the path when it's wet."
Brainerd and Brown Acres, two courses owned by the city, have recycle bins around the course, and employees sort out recyclables from trash when they clean carts after golfers' rounds.
But golf manager Eddie Taylor isn't quite sure how much golfers think about helping out as they play.
"A lot of people comment about how nice and pretty the courses are and the wildlife that they see, and we get a lot of talk about the geese," Taylor said. "I think nature is on their minds, but to what extent or how I can help, I'm not sure."
The awareness needs to grow in our area from golfers at Fall Creek Falls to golfers at LaFayette Golf Course and all across the country and globe, the superintendents contend.
"Chattanooga is a compelling area, and people there are connected with natural resources because of the beauty of the area," Lyman said. "You have, and have had, some great players nationally because of what's located in Chattanooga.
"It's a great place to bring out these types of conversations."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter a twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...