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Playing Greener Golf

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The supermarket industry is heavy into golf. It's a great networking pastime and a lot of deals get done in the span of 18 holes. Many chains, brokers and manufacturers sponsor tournaments, outings and fundraisers all season long. So I think that's a good enough reason to write a blog post about it.

golf_ball.JPGGolf might be great for business, but from an environmental point of view, it's a minor disaster. What makes many courses such works of landscaped beauty is often due to the tremendous quantity of herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers applied to the fairways and greens. Experienced duffers know never to place food or (ahem) cigars on the ground, and to wash their hands in between rounds and afterwards, too. Add electric or gas-powered carts, and the volumes of water used, and you see how golf isn't going to win any ecology prizes anytime soon.

Course management is beginning to move towards greener practices, but it's slow going. However, players themselves can speed things up a bit. Let's start with golf balls. Many are technological wonders. Most are also made of heavy-metal pollutants like tungsten, cobalt and lead, and contain non-renewable synthetic materials and compounds.

I just came across a company that manufactures eco-friendly golf balls. Located in Arizona, 5-year-old Dixon Golf makes biodegradable tees as well as the Earth line of two-piece balls (among other products). The core, cover and even the packaging are recyclable and the company includes a pouch with every box so that spent balls can be mailed back to the facility to make new balls or other post-consumer products.

A four-handicapper reported on his experience using the Earth ball on the website Ecoscene. Overall, the tester found the balls "provided similar performance in terms of distance, spin, feel, workability and durability." The only drawback was their durability. The Ecoscene player noted the balls are more prone to scuffing than conventional balls. Now that's weird - who'd think there ever would be such a thing as eco-balls vs. conventional balls?

(Photo credit: David Power/dpow!)

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