Schutze and "The Dirt Doctor" Take Issue With Times Story About an Organic Golf Course

The New York Times today has a story about an organic golf course on Martha's Vineyard of which the newspaper says: "Opened eight years ago, the club is thought to be the only completely organic golf course in the United States ..."

As we know, that actually means, "the only one The New York Times knows about," which, in New York Times language, is the same thing.

I called Dallas-based organics guru Howard Garrett as soon as I saw the story, because I am aware Howard has been running almost totally organic maintenance programs at golf courses around here for some years.

Garrett knew about the Vineyard Golf Club and has met the manager, Jeff Carlson. At first he was willing to grant the Massachusetts golf course its claim to uniqueness: "It's the only truly legitimate totally organic golf course in the country," he said. But almost in the same breath, he added: "There's even a little catch with him [Carlson]. He still uses some synthetic fertilizer."

Garrett regards chemical fertilizer as an even worse enemy of healthy soil than pesticide: "A low percentage of the fertilizer goes into the plant and creates weak cells in the plant and leads to insects and disease. But the big story is that 65 or 70 percent of it or maybe more volatizes and leaches into the ground water.

"That's the big story. Pesticides are real bad, but they're a secondary concern to me compared to fertilizers."

How does Howard Garrett know about organic methods for golf courses? From field tests over several years at Tierra Verde, a city of Arlington municipal golf course operating on a program that may be even more organic than the one in the Times story.

There and at other courses in the region, Garrett has been able to save golf courses a lot of money, mostly in watering, while producing greener greens with organic methods.

If he were on Martha's Vineyard, The Times might have noticed.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze

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