When the AB editors dedicated our July issue to best environmental practices in the athletics, fitness and recreation industries, we managed to overlook one egregious hazard to our planet's health: golf balls.

In our defense, golf really isn't AB's bag — at least not as a consistent editorial focus. I covered the glut of course construction back in October 2004, only to have Sports Illustrated run essentially the same article six weeks later. But that's neither here nor there.

When cnn.com reported Tuesday that golf balls sprayed into woods and waters, never to be found again, can take between 100 and 1,000 years to decay, and that when they finally do their cores can release heavy metals such as zinc into the environment with the potential to poison "flora and fauna," well, a red flag went up for me. (You can pull the flag, please. Thank you.) Most alarming, the article cites an unattributed estimate that Americans lose or discard 300 million golf balls annually. I'm pretty sure I'm personally responsible for about a third of those, but that's only because I sometimes play twice a year.

So if you've signed up a foursome in the 8th Annual Athletic Business Golf Classic, to be held Dec. 2 at Celebration (Fla.) Golf Club amid (as our promo copy clearly states) "native marshes, grasses, pines, old oaks draped in Spanish moss and a vast array of wildlife," please hit 'em straight. The future of the world may depend on it.

 

Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.