ORLANDO — Golf relies so heavily on the natural world that the golf industry has to take its environmental impact seriously. This means looking at things like the amount of waste produced by golf products—think the single-use plastic packaging new golf clubs come wrapped in. The issue of golf's impact on the environment has become more of a conversation at this year's PGA Merchandise Show than ever before. Here are some of the ways golf companies are becoming more environmentally friendly:
Golf Club Packaging
Club manufacturer Lynx Golf has put initiatives in place to help the environment, stemming from the company's commitment to join the United Nation's Global Compact. The UN created the Global Compact to "implement universal sustainably principles." Lynx says its the first golf company to join. One big step is Lynx officials have taken is to no longer use single-use plastic. When you order clubs from Lynx, they will arrive with paper packaging in the box instead of bubble wrap and a textile pouch around the clubhead instead of plastic wrap. In addition, the company is helping the bee population. (Yes, you read that right. Bees.) With the number of bees decreasing globally, the team at Lynx decided to include a packet of flower seeds in every box of equipment that it ships. The hope is for customers to plant the seeds, thereby growing flowers and providing more food sources for bees.
Eliminating Chemicals and Conserving Water
The finishing process for steel shafts requires the use of gallons of water, as well as chemicals necessary for Nickel-Chrome plating. Shaft company Accra has created a new shaft, the Eco-Satin (a version of their i-Series shaft), that uses fewer chemicals to finish and much less water. How much? 10 gallons per shaft.
You might like plastic tees because they don't break as often as wooden tees, but what happens to the tees you lose and the ones you stop using? The idea for tee company Ocean Tee came from a marine biologist concerned with plastic tees on coastal golf courses ending up in the ocean. To make sure this pollution doesn't happen, the company doesn't use plastic. Its tees are made from bamboo, saying these tees are harder to break than standard wooden tees. The hope is that you'll use fewer tees each time you play. Bamboo also grows very quickly, so if a stand of bamboo is harvested, it's able to regrow quickly. Ocean Tee also donates 25 percent of its profits to charities that focus on plastic pollution. (Note: Ocean Tee is not an exhibitor at the PGA Show.)
Plastic bottles can be recycled and turned into a thread—maybe you've seen shirts, rugs or other products made from it. Now, it's being used in the golf space. True Linkswear, the golf shoe company, is launching a new golf shoe where the upper is made with that material. It takes about eight plastic bottles to make one Eco Shoe upper. In addition, all of True Linkswear's shoes are shipping in a reusable bag instead of a cardboard box that just gets discarded. Similarly, Sun Mountain will be releasing a bag, called the Eco Lite, that's made of repurposed plastic bottles. It takes about 25 20-oz bottles to make each bag. (Note: Sun Mountain is not an exhibitor at the PGA Show.)
Removing Single-Use Products
We're all guilty of grabbing a plastic bottle of water out of a cooler and taking it on the course, just to throw the bottle away once the water has been consumed. Obviously, that's a pretty poor practice. There are water-bottle companies all over the floor at the PGA Show—Tempercraft ($15-$45), Corkcicle (starting at $20), Eco Vessel (starting at $15) and more—promoting the use of reusable water bottles by golfers instead of single-use plastic bottles.
Similarly, companies like Seamus have the idea of reusing products front of mind when they're creating products. Seamus' hand-forged ball marks, for example, promote long-term use of one product over the use (and then the likely loss) of plastic ball markers you grab at the first tee.
There is still a lot of progress that needs to be made when it comes to the golf industry becoming more environmentally friendly, but conversations like these are moving golf in the right direction.