SAN JOSE, Calif. - I've written about this silly topic before.
But apparently, I have to do it again and again with an even louder voice:
DO NOT HIT GOLF BALLS INTO MOTHER NATURE ON PURPOSE!
That's as direct and stern as I possibly can get. Stupid antics by an influencer put the topic on blast last week. It's time to put an end to this dangerous and sometimes illegal practice once and for all. I consider it golf's biggest no-no because it has an impact bigger than just on the golf course. It hurts the environment of our already struggling planet. What's bigger than that?
When I wrote about the topic of hitting golf balls into oblivion off the course three years ago, I tried to tiptoe gently around the topic. I even admitted I've done it - hitting a golf ball into the ocean at Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand in 2013. I haven't done it since and will never again. All golfers should shame anyone who does.
Golfers haven't learned their lesson yet
Three recent events have reminded me to continue to educate golfers about the issue. It's still a major problem.
1. TikTok "influencer" Katie Sigmond is now in legal trouble after being filmed hitting a ball into the Grand Canyon near Mather Point in Arizona. During the swing, she lost the club, tossing it over the edge. She is facing charges from the Grand Canyon Law Enforcement and a pending court appearance. “Throwing objects over the rim of the canyon is not only illegal but can also endanger hikers and wildlife who may be below,” the park stated on its Facebook page.
2. Last week, I was hiking the trails above my home course, the Santa Teresa Golf Club, a municipal course in San Jose that is part of a Santa Clara County Park. A brush clearing below the trails but above the club's short course revealed at least 25 balls scattered about in the woods. There's absolutely zero reason for them to be there. They aren't lost drives. They're from golfers - probably beginners, because that's most of the people who play the short course - hitting shots up the hill while they're waiting for the green to clear. Some of those balls have probably been there at least a decade. In the five years I've been hiking the trail, that area has never been cleared like this. The balls just sit there as plastic litter. It's disgusting. I plan on cleaning them up myself since nobody else will.
3. Over the summer, a poster in a golf Facebook group I belong to made the appalling request that he's looking to buy shag balls to bang into the lake from his dock. I commented that I wasn't happy about his antics, but I'm guessing he's still doing it. Think about the fish, man! Plastics in our lakes and oceans affect fish, birds, turtles, crabs and anything else that mistakes the eroding bits as food.
Does it really take law enforcement or me begging readers to end this practice? How about some good old common sense? Come on, people. If you want to swing away, there's a time and a place for it. There's probably a Topgolf, driving range or golf course nearby ready to scratch your itch to launch one. We've only got one planet. Let's do our best as golfers to take care of it. It's part of the game's creed to leave the course better than how you found it. That goes for Mother Nature, too.
Should golfers face heavier fines or prosecution for hitting balls out of bounds on purpose? Let us know in the comments below.