By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
In the desert, where plants and animals are in some ways tougher but in other ways more vulnerable than they are in other habitats, the effects of chemicals can be far-reaching. One accidental run-off of pesticides in Palm Springs several years ago killed most of the fish in an artificial lake. When several hundred birds came along to eat the fish, they died, too.
The United States Golf Association hopes to arrive at more definite conclusions about chemical use on golf courses by spending $3.2 million on 21 different studies now under way in ten states. Some superintendents are trying to educate golfers so they understand that it is unreasonable and unhealthy to expect a wall-to-wall carpet of green grass at their favorite courses. One north Scottsdale course superintendent, who asked not to be identified, says, "Golfers shouldn't worry so much about color, especially [in Arizona]. Brown is okay. That nice green appearance is not really that important."
His point, though valid, may be a bit difficult to sell to golf-course neighbors. Having shelled out a minimum of several hundred thousand dollars for their palatial courseside homes, plus the yearly $10,000 or $15,000 membership fee many clubs require, well-heeled golf lovers may be less than thrilled with the prospect of hosting cocktail parties on decks overlooking brown grass, tumbleweed-dotted fairways and dried-up artificial lakes. True environmental reform of the golf-course industry will have to deal with the demands of the people it caters to.
For the time being, then, the best advice for those who live with and around golf-course chemicals may be found on leaflets like one passed out recently at Troon North, which reads, in part:
"Is it safe to walk on the course after it has been sprayed?
"Yes, with common sense. Clean golf balls with a towel, not your hands. Don't use your mouth to clean balls. Don't chew on tees. Avoid animals and insects which may have been sprayed. Clean your clubs and shoes immediately after your round and take a shower--especially if you've been wearing shorts."
Or cocktail dresses.