Drs. Wheeler and Nauright provide an overview of the history of golf and the intricacies of the coupled human-nature relationship on a golf course, followed by a review of the environmental impacts of the sport.
First, there are some positive environmental attributes of golf courses: these spaces represent useful and positive recreational land uses, provide wildlife habitats, protect underlying soils from water and wind erosion. However, as golf is linked with nature, many courses are built at scenic sites such as near lakes and rivers, adjacent to forests, and at the base of mountains.
Some of the negative impacts of course construction and development include: clearing of natural vegetation, deforestation, destruction of natural landscapes and habitats and changes in local topography and hydrology.
The most egregious and obvious negative impact of course maintenance is the the widespread application of chemicals including fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and fungicides.
For humans using the course, especially those who are frequent users (e.g. golfers, caddies, managers, etc.) there may be negative health effects associated with exposure to chemicals, such as skin rashes, irritations, diseases and other allergic symptoms.
The authors discuss the protests and anti-golf movements that have emerged arund the world in response to over-development associated with golf courses (i.e. the hotels, restaurants, malls, expensive housing developments, that generally follow the construction of a new golf course.
CITE: Wheeler, K. & Nauright, J. (2006). A global perspective on the environmental impact of golf. Sport in Society, 9(3), 427-443.