Most human differences can be overcome, but there is one unbridgeable divide. The world is split between people who play golf and people who don’t. Each faction regards the other as an alien lifeform. One is astonished that any human fails to see that life without golf is not worth living. The other watches grown men in two-tone shoes dragging a bag of sticks round Tellytubbyland, and shakes its collective head with incredulity.

One of the best writers in the fields of injustice is George Monbiot. He dares to ask the questions most of us prefer to avoid. He then takes the answers to their logical conclusion. These traits have earned him praise and criticism. For my part he is one of the most important journalist/writers of our time. In a recent column he picks an easy target environmentalism and golf and explains simply and logically the negative effects of the sport.

One study suggests that an 18-hole course requires, on average, 22 tonnes of chemical treatments (mostly pesticides) every year: seven times the rate per hectare for industrial farming(22). Another shows higher rates of some cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (which has been associated with certain pesticides(23)), among golf course superintendents(24). Courses consume staggering amounts of water(25). Many of them are built on diverse and important habitats, such as rainforests or wetlands. In some countries people have been violently evicted to make way for them.The problem is particularly acute in South East and East Asia, where golf is big business, and land rights and the environment are often ignored by governments. There are hundreds of accounts of battles between peasant farmers or indigenous people and golf course developers. In one case in the Philippines in 2000, two farmers resisting a course planned for their lands were mutilated and dismembered then shot dead(26).

Read the whole article Playing it Rough (originally published in the Guardian 16th October 2007) at

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