Shouldn’t We Just Get Rid of Golf?

I traveled to Colorado, Arizona, California, and Utah without my golf clubs recently, promoting my new book, Where the Water Goes. Among other things, I gave a talk in the Mark Taper Auditorium at the Los Angeles Central Library.

There was a Q & A period at the end, and one member of the audience asked, in effect, whether a good way to cope with drought in the West might not be to get rid of golf. I gave my usual defense (“Blah, blah, blah, blah”). Later that evening, though, I thought of a different answer: Why not cut down all the palm trees in Los Angeles? None of them grow there naturally, and they consume a lot of water. Most people assume that palm trees (and citrus trees) are indigenous to L.A., but they’re not, and they’d die without irrigation. Here’s a photo of a palm-tree planting project in the city in the nineteen-twenties:

Better get rid of the gardens, too:

Nothing you see in the photo above is a native species. The climate of Los Angeles is semi-arid, and without irrigation the city would look like the set of “Rawhide.” There are places in the United States where watering fairways is clearly irrational, but if we’re sane about costs and trade-offs most regions can manage a variety of irrigated outdoor recreational facilities, including parks, athletic fields, and golf courses. More about that in my book.

5 thoughts on “Shouldn’t We Just Get Rid of Golf?

    • Yup. Courses in Las Vegas (and elsewhere) do that, too. Irrigating with treated wastewater is a little tricky, because the water is usually salty and the salts accumulate in the soil, but fairways can provide a final “polish” to water that otherwise can’t be used directly.

  1. nice interview on NPR. Terry Gross is, by far, my favorite interviewer. always prepared and lets the guest (you) get there point across. Thanks,

    • She’s great. She reminded me that I’d been on her show once before, back in the eighties, when I’d written a book about standardized testing. Even with that reminder, though, I have zero memory of it. But that was a long time ago.

  2. David, the suggester’s ulterior motive for proposing that was to keep Trump out of California. Clever bunch those Californians.

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