"Coloring the Conservation Conversation--One Word at a Time!"

Friday, September 16, 2011


And so today I did something that so many of my ilk have condemned. I played a round of golf.  And so now my eco-confession, I am a golfer.  At least I try to be.  So today, as autumn tried desperately to make an early show and the clouds hid the late Summer sun for most of the day, I found my way to a place touched heavily by the human hand.  Acres and acres of bermuda grass, low-mown, bent-grass greens and ponds where ponds should not be hardly seem wild and the energy input into such a thing would not seem to bode well for wild things.

The grassy places carved out of the north Georgia piedmont were surrounded by mature forests of oak, hickory, blackgum, sourwood and dogwood.  I imagine what much of this used to be--maybe intact forest recovering from being cotton fields. And then I know what it all could be--pavement, curb to curb concrete--development that might never stand a chance to be anything near green other than a centipede lawn.  And so is the golf course a perfect place? No, it is wrought with many things that we know are not good--maybe too many chemicals, perhaps too much persnickity pampering of ornamentals that do not belong.  But then, in a world where so much is so much worse, I find good in the green--because the green makes me feel somehow better.  "A good walk spoiled" is how Mark Twain characterized the game of golf.  Maybe to some it is. And for my eco-friends who are much holier than I could ever hope to be, you may condemn me.  But today, as the Zen of an easy swing sent the little white ball arcing through a steely September afternoon to occassionally find the short grass, I was at peace.  As I watched a flock of turkeys--mostly nervous hens and silly teenage jakes, make their way from the  fake pond's edge to the abundance of acorns already dropping from the mature oaks that had been artfully left on so much of the beautiful Woodland's Course at Chateau Elan, I released just a little of the guilt.  As I listened to the chips and contact calls of songbirds making their way through the same forest, I forgave myself for the transgressions. Someone who designed this course loved trees as much as grass. The wildlife seemed to appreciate that fact.

There were way more strokes taken today than I would like to admit.  I am a golfer sometimes, a hacker most others.  But there were just enough good shots to make me come back to the peace of the place. It was a good walk joined for me. As we were leaving the day behind us, heading back to the clubhouse, a whitetail fawn grazed at the "tips"  the tee box reserved for the most skilled (and sometimes foolishly self-overrated) golfers. Still spotted, it is a late-season baby bloomer likely born in the very woods surrounding the course.  It allowed close approach, having no idea of the predator of its adult-kind  that I will soon become as I  exchange my fairway wood for a firearm. I reveled in the moment of the meeting. The little deer was safe and I was saved--at least for the day.  The golf courses I play are far from perfect and certainly not wilderness. But nature is where one finds it. My eco-conscious was clear at least for a moment.   I am sure as my imperfections in ecology, body,soul and golf game emerge again, I will need another cleansing.

1 comment:

  1. Very well put Dr. Lanham. We find what we want to find, where ever we go and whatever we do. It is always comforting to know that there are folks out there that came tame the wildness with such poetic prose. Please keep up the good work!