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|The Sun Mountain Swift X golf bag weighs in at less than three pounds. (Courtesy of Sun Mountain)|
Major golf equipment manufacturers including Nike Golf, Sun Mountain, Ashworth and Ahead offer excellent environmentally-friendly gift options this Christmas.
Green - it's an iconic Christmas color. Green is also the color associated worldwide with environmentalism. As fans of a sport played exclusively in the great outdoors, we golfers should all be at least tolerant of earth-friendly trends in the game. In fact, it might surprise many outside of the sport just how eco-conscious many golfers are becoming.
For those of us who not only appreciate birdies on the course, but also those in the air overhead, and the miraculously beautiful ecosystem that supports them both (and us, for that matter), this Christmas season offers plenty of gift ideas for the green golfers among us.
The best thing a golfer can do for the environment is to eschew golf carts (even the electric ones). Walking is good for the planet and even better for the golfer (by some estimates, walking 18 holes carrying your bag burns 6,000 calories). So it should be made as easy as possible to enjoy. Toward that end, Sun Mountain (www.sunmountain.com) has developed the Swift X stand bag ($149). Weighing in under 3 lbs., it is the absolute lightest full-sized golf bag on the market.
Even a feather-light golf bag can feel heavy if your feet hurt, though. Helping to make hoofing it easier on the tootsies, Nike Golf has introduced the Air Zoom Elite II line ($155). The shoes, worn by such PGA Tour luminaries as K.J. Choi, are by far the most comfortable shoes right out of the box that Nike has ever made.
Despite a recent trend toward "performance" materials derived mainly from petroleum (e.g., polyester), some apparel companies are also offering more earth-friendly lines. Ashworth offers the Organics collection, consisting of five shirts, one jersey and one jacket model for spring 2009 (beginning at $80). All items are made from organic cotton, which is significant, as traditional cotton farming accounts for 25 percent of all the agricultural pesticides used in the world, despite representing only 3 percent of the world's crops.
AHEAD apparel (www.aheadweb.com) is also thinking green, introducing the new Cocona technology in four new polo shirt styles for men. The fabric is derived from coconut shells and is billed as breathable, odor-resistant and UV-protective ($48-$70).
Earlier this year, Dixon Golf (www.dixongolf.com) introduced the first green golf ball, which is, thankfully, white. The Dixon Earth ball ($40/doz.) is made from recycled materials, and each dozen comes with a pre-paid envelope to return "spent" golf balls to be recycled in return for steep discounts on new ones. These balls perform as well as any on the market, in my experience, though I never did hang on to one long enough to see what it was like when it was "spent."
Two companies are doing their part to cut down on wooden tees (and thereby avoid cutting down wooden trees). Evolve Golf (www.evolvegolf.com) makes the Epoch Tee, which has been used in 108 major tour wins since 2004. Zero Friction Golf Tees (www.zerofriction.com), like Epoch, are also made from natural materials, and are supposedly biodegradable (also like Epoch). Of course these high-tech green tees are more expensive than wooden tees (around $10 for 50), but one tee will last most golfers dozens of rounds. Oh yeah, and they're supposed to reduce friction and let you hit the ball farther, too.
The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) has recently published the third edition of "An Environmental Approach to Golf Course Development," which details design tenets used by members and case studies that illustrate examples of best practices in environmental design.
The Audubon Cooperative Golf Sanctuary Program is coordinated between Audubon International (www.auduboninternational.org) and the USGA as a way to promote environmental awareness among golfers and the community and better stewardship of the planet. More than 2,200 courses worldwide belong to the society (more than 500 in the U.S.), and pledge to preserve wildlife, cut chemical use, and educate the community about all the natural beauty that is golf.
So before giving your green golfer a gift membership or yearly pass to a local golf course, check to make sure the course was built in an environmentally friendly way, and that the greenskeeper is using as little water and as few chemicals as possible. This is the sort of gift that keeps on giving. It would be nice if we could all work together to make sure both the game of golf and the land upon which we play it were nurtured for future generations of golfers.
December 8, 2008
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
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