Golfstinks: Can You Golf Eco-Friendly?

I could talk about sustainable practices in the golf industry until I'm green in the face, however golfer and industry understanding and acceptance is the deciding factor on whether these see the light of day. The hackers over at are an honest bunch, Turfhugger will be posting a number of environment related articles produced by the guys at Golfstinks who seem to understand the transition our sport is going through.

Can You Golf Eco Friendly?
Greg D'Andrea

Let's face it, regardless of whether you believe in global warming or not, as a golfer you should be doing all you can to help protect the environment we live in. After all, golf is a game that, aside from the cart paths, is played in nature's entire splendor. And if we inadvertently ruin nature, it wouldn't be much fun teeing-off from a driving range mat and hitting onto a green made of AstroTurf, would it?

So what can we as golfers do? By now, most of us have seen those cork-screw-shaped florescent light bulbs, chemical-free cleaning products and that Energy Star logo on our electronic toys...not to mention all the hybrid cars on the road these days.

But can you play golf more eco-friendly? Haven't given that notion much thought? Or wondering how that's even possible? Well, if you want to be green while on the green, here are some tips to get you started: 

Tip # 1: Change your golf tees. According to Eco Golf, there are over 2 billion golf tees used in the United States annually. Two billion! That means millions of trees are cut down each year just to support your golf ball on a few drives. What's worse, sometimes tees don't even last a few drives, as many tend to break after just one swing (especially those new "long" tees people are using with oversized drivers). Ultimately, even if the tee doesn't break, we'll still forget to pick it up because we're either admiring our drive or swearing at it.

The good news is there are eco-friendly tees out there to buy. The aforementioned Eco Golf, located in Knox, Indiana, is one such company. It manufactures three different biodegradable tee styles which you can purchase directly from the company. Another option is the Bonfit Biodegradable Zero Friction Tee. I purchased a pack of 50 of these and they lasted me the entire season. Hey, tees may be a small thing, but all that wood adds up! 

Tip # 2: Carry a non-plastic water bottle. So if golfers go through 2 billion tees every year, how many of those stupid cone-shaped 7 oz. cups would you say we go through in a year? Is it just me or do we fill-up those snow-cone cups about 10 times when we're thirsty? Not only is it annoying, but think of all the wasted paper and plastic!

The eco-friendly and healthy answer? Begin carrying a non-plastic water bottle like one from Klean Kanteen. I purchased a bottle from them last year - it fits perfectly in the bottle holder on my golf bag. It's much lighter than you'd expect too, and you don't have to wait till the next water jug or MOFOBETE to rehydrate.

Tip # 3: Leave the cart at the clubhouse (if possible). I'm sure I don't have to explain the environmental implications caused by gas golf carts, but this is a tough one to abide by for a couple reasons: First, many courses require you to take a cart (especially on the weekends) and second, many golfers simply can't play without one due to health reasons. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to walk 9- or 18-holes, we should probably avoid taking carts at all costs. If you must take a cart, try and stick to the "cart paths only rule" to limit gas usage. And, it wouldn't hurt to petition your course to switch over to electric carts either.

Tip # 4: Choose your golf balls wisely. According to the NGF, an estimated 2.5 billion golf balls are lost every year (and you thought you were the only one that stinks at this game). Up until recently, there weren't any biodegradable golf balls on the market. But now, you do have a biodegradable ball option for actual course play - Dixon Golf is touting the world's first 100 percent eco-friendly golf ball. According to the company, the Dixon "Earth" ball does not sacrifice any of the playability of normal two-piece balls, despite being constructed of all recycled materials.

But, if you're worried your balls will decompose in your bag between rounds, there are also used golf balls, like those from Used Golf Ball Deals. These are brand-name balls that are priced based on the amount of damage they have.

So there you have it - a few ways we golfers can help the environment. After all, we mine as well save a few trees to help compensate for the ones cut down to build the course in the first place.