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Abstract Submission

Edna Selloriquez Pana

The Law And Governance In Golf Courses
Nolan International Symposium (2nd Intl Symp on Laws & their Applications for Sustainable Development)

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There are more than 32,000 golf courses worldwide, with a rate of development
increasing annually, along with their adverse impacts on the environment. And for the
last 20 years, the world has seen a considerable proliferation of golf courses in Asia owing
to sustained economic growth in the region. Moreover, golf has become the preferred
sport amongst Asians nowadays and many governments have adopted “golf tourism” as
national policy to spur economic growth. The Philippines, for instance, boasts of seventyeight
golf clubs compared with just 20 courses from two decades ago. Thailand has 222
courses, Viet Nam is hurriedly catching up with twenty-eight and Singapore has eighteen
golf clubs with twenty-six courses. These figures are increasing steadily at an average
rate of two new courses being constructed annually.
Most of these golf courses are considered “traditional” or conventional, because they
pursue a particular mode of construction and management, i.e. prodigious use of
chemicals, water, white sand or pebbles, and hybrid turf grasses - not only to ensure the
playing quality of the surface but also aesthetically to enhance the greens and a
substantial portion of the golf course (tees, fairways). Moreover, most courses are built
either on pristine or un-spoilt lands, hilly plains and mountainous areas for breathtaking
landscapes and challenging games. During the construction and landscaping stage, the
earth-moving activities generally destroy topsoil, re-direct riverine and wild life habitats,
as well as damage ecosystems. But mostly, golf courses have converted vast tracts of
agricultural lands, particularly paddy fields, which bring trepidations about food
security in the region.
Significantly, the “traditional” or conventional method of construction and operation of golf
courses is causing adverse environmental, health, social and economic impacts. Firstly,
golf courses require vast tracks of land for the construction of complexes. These lands
could either be agricultural, hilly or mountainous areas, reclaimed marine or coastal
areas, or mostly state lands. Secondly, golf courses use large quantities of chemicals, which
are highly toxic and can also bio-accumulate in organisms. Chemicals also pose risks to
people exposed to them. Thus, there is a need to regulate the use of these chemicals
(fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and coagulants). The problem is exacerbated
in developing countries, where government policies encourage agro-chemical use as
chemicals are seen as production enhancers – similarly, substantial chemical application
has become the popular “culture” in turf grass management in golf courses.