Friday, March 11, 2011

The Sharp Park drama makes my head feel like it's about to explode!

Editor's note: The following is the first blog post by new Golfdom contributor Chris Sorrell, superintendent at Eagles Ridge GC in Curwensville, Pa.

I just saw a little article on about Sharp Park.

It's a municipal golf course in San Francisco that has been under fire for some time concerning its impact on two endangered species: special frog and lovely snake. The claim is that the course is harming the animal populations. The interesting thing that is overlooked in this debate is that without the golf course, these two most marginal of God’s creations could not even live there!

The course that was built in 1932 by Golden Age architect Alister MacKenzie (which he actually writes about in his book “The Spirit of Saint Andrews”, pgs. 171-172) was “reclaimed from the sea.” This means that the land was raised from a wetland habitat to make it suitable for golf course construction. While this is not something that we would do today, there were no regulations preventing it then. It matters because in doing this it changed the standing water on the course from brackish water to fresh water. And these two species cannot survive in brackish water! Without the golf course being constructed these little critters would not even live there!

Everyone involved agrees that the course has a bad drainage problem that has resulted in conflict between maintenance practices and the creatures. The City of San Francisco has proposed a $10 million renovation to resolve the situation, but it is not good enough for opponents of the course who want to see it shut down and returned to a natural wetland. They even go so far as to criticize the city’s plan as being a waste of money because the “course will fail as sea levels rise.”

In that case, what is going to happen to the frog and the snake?

It doesn’t seem like concern for these slithery and slimy fellows is at the top of the opposition's agenda. Instead, there is an agenda at the top of their agenda.

Chris Sorrell is the superintendent of Eagles Ridge Golf Club in Curwensville, Pa. He has been a superintendent for four years. He studied turfgrass management at Penn State University. He is the father of two beautiful daughters and husband to an awesome wife.


Mike said...

Chris - I live in So CA and have been following this story, to me it is more about the Environmental groups setting a precedent for closing a course through legal action than it is about the snake or frog. That is just the "cover" being used IMO. Once they legally get this one course closed through court action look out, everyone's course built before the days of modern permitting and regulation will be at risk. Mike Huck

Chris Sorrell said...

Mike you are dead on! This is nothing more than a foot in the door. The opponents of Sharps Park are acting in bad faith in opposing the course on the grounds of protecting these lovely little creatures. Where there are alot of individuals and groups that are legitimately conerned about the way our environemnt is impacted, there are just as many who are only conerned about advancing an agenda. It is important for all of us in this industry to recognize this and call a spade a spade