At the behest of a coalition of groups opposed to the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that may be linked to breast cancer, the Town of Huntington, Long Island, proposes to maintain the greens and fairways of two municipal golf courses without them. That’s a bold and farsighted initiative.
Although the link to breast cancer is still the subject of research, the town is right to act Why use potentially dangerous compounds if there are viable alternatives? Golf courses are notorious groundwater polluters because of the large quantities of chemicals used to keep greens free of pests. Yet few courses have opted to take a wholly chemical-free approach because its success depends on many variables, including climate and soil conditions.
Huntington proposes to take the risk despite the presence of a daunting number of problems. A turf specialist affiliated with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America said New York is one area in which grass pests and diseases “cannot be managed organically.” Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, nonetheless, opted to try organic turf maintenance after the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition turned down a town offer to hold a benefit for it at the Dix Hills Golf Course – because the course used pesticides. That led to further discussion and Petrone’s decision to forgo chemicals at the Dix Hills and Crab Meadow Golf Courses.
The superintendent of the Crab Meadow course says the town will experiment with different organic products to find the ones that best fit conditions in Huntington. The town expects to take at least three years to phase in the new approach to turf management. If Huntington can make the chemical-free approach work, more power to it.
Newsday, August 21, 1997