How a high school student uncovered golf’s biggest danger to the environment

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In a joint paper to ScienceDirect high school student Alex Weber and Marine Scientist Matthew Savoca of Stanford University this month outlined a huge responsibility that golfers have to the environment.

As a high school junior in 2017 Alex Weber e-mailed Matthew for advice on what she had seen while snorkelling with a friend  in the ocean around the Monterey Peninsula. They spotted huge numbers of golf balls on the ocean floor and they began removing them. That year they removed 10,000 balls, weighing half a ton. The waters around Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, site of this year’s US Open, are part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the wildlife there are all protected species. Friends and family got involved in the clean up and the scientific paper shamefully sets out that to date 50,681 golf balls have been retrieved, 2.5 tons of plastic.

Golf balls sink as soon as they hit the water but due to the motion of the tide they gradually erode and chemicals and microplastics are emitted which can be ingested by wild life. Pebble Beach GC employees are now involved in the clean up. Their employees have now cleared a further 10,000 balls from local beaches.

This is an action that all links clubs need to take on. It is a huge responsibility to clear up the mess that golfers errant shots make. Alex’s paper includes this photograph of a sea otter holding a golf ball. Golf shouldn’t be killing wildlife.

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