The (Very Strong) Case for Converting Golf Courses to Public Parks
My daughter says it’s “not fair.” As a stormy pre-teen, she thinks most things aren’t fair these days, but on this particular point, I wholeheartedly agree.
Whenever we take a family walk to a nearby golf course, we follow a dirt trail around the perimeter, the only area in which us non-golfing “commonfolk” are allowed. We appreciate gazing out at the gently rolling hills, always well-groomed and always a lush green, even during the dog days of summer.
As we circle back toward home, on the other side of the course, the view becomes obscured by an ugly chainlink fence. But whichever side of the course we’re on, there is a distinct sense of exclusion. We can enjoy the rolling hills from certain vantage points, but we are unable to traverse them, immerse ourselves.
That privilege is reserved for the golfers — and yes, perhaps unsurprisingly, these golfers are mostly middle-aged and older white men. They dot the landscape in their small, sparse flocks. We never see more than a dozen of them at a time.
That so much land is reserved for so few people incenses my daughter. It’s not fair. She’s going to write a letter to the mayor, she says.
I tried to golf once, for a fundraiser, but I struggled to convince my club to make contact with the ball. When it did, it wasn’t with the satisfying thwack that my companions were able to elicit. I gave up after three holes.
But still, I can understand the appeal. I imagine it’s quite pleasant, an afternoon on the course, catching up with friends and thwacking balls amidst acres of manicured grass.
My uncle likes to golf alone, sometimes in the rain. He finds it meditative.
The only time I really ever think about golf is when I pass by a course — or in some cases, what I think is a course, but which lies obscured behind towering walls so it’s kind of hard to tell. I feel the same way I do when I walk through First Class on an airplane. It’s not that I covet the lifestyles of the rich, who spend an inordinate amount of time and money on things I could care less about, but I share my daughter’s sense…