When most people think danger, they don’t think golf. They think hang gliding or bullfighting or roller-blading. (If you’re over 40, trust me: roller-blading’s a killer. It turns your wrists into micro-surgeons’ country club memberships.) Golf seems, at first blush, entirely harmless. Yet I had always thought there was something a little sinister about this seemingly sunny game, not least because I could never get my ball past the windmill and into the cup. Well, leave it to faithful reader Dave Davis to come up with the startling details.

“Did you know,” he wrote me recently, “that rabbits dug the first holes in golf?”

This was not one of the startling details. But it caught my attention and I read on:

“More importantly, golf courses — despite their manicured good looks — are among the most toxic environments in the United States. They use more pesticides and other chemicals per acre than farmers do. The high incidence of breast cancer on Long Island — also known as “Lawn Island” — has been linked (no pun intended) to the large number of golf courses there. Can’t imagine why people are attracted to such a deadly sport.”

Encouragingly, Dave reports, there’s a small “green” movement to persuade country clubs to go organic. “But there’s enormous resistance because people want to play on courses like those they see on television. Interestingly enough, the venerable St. Andrews in Scotland, where golf originated, is an organic course.”

I will never play golf again. But the reason for that — which I will reveal tomorrow — has nothing to do with Dave’s concern.


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