Do you, readers, have any favorite sports?

There seems to be a lot of interest in golf these days among many sports.

Just by looking at social media, there are a lot of certified shots and there are a lot of golf entertainment shows.

Strictly speaking, not even today.

Although outside activities were affected by COVID-19, interest in and popularity of golf was considerable in the midst of it.

It's no different than talking about golf, because today's Mabu News is going to cover golf.

In fact, when I say 'golf', I remember that environmental pollution has always followed.

So, the question Mabu News asks its readers today is this.

“Golf is a trend, is the environment okay?”

The wind blows, the wind of golf

How the hell has golf grown in popularity?

To check the popularity of golf, Mabu News analyzed data from a social survey conducted every two years by Statistics Korea.

By looking at this data, you can find out which leisure facilities were used and how much by the general public over the age of 13.

Looking at the data, the number of people who used leisure facilities in 2021 was 43.5%, a decrease of 29.9%p from two years ago.

The impact of COVID-19 is significant.

Let's take a look at each leisure facility.

The proportion of people who used the beach was 33.8% in 2019, but decreased by 10%p in 2021 to 23.1%.

Not only beaches, but also ski resorts, amusement parks, and swimming pools have been hit directly by the aftermath of COVID-19.

You can see the difference by looking at the graph below.

Hot springs and spas were hit the hardest.

In 2019, the rate of use of hot springs and spas was 32.5%, but in 2021, it was 10.7%, which was cut by a third.

Enlarging an image

Only the golf course survived.

Of all leisure facilities, only the golf course showed an increase in use in 2021 compared to 2019.

The number of people who answered the question of whether they used the golf course in 2019 was 6.6% of the total, but in 2021, that number jumped to 10.2%.

It's almost doubled.

Due to the nature of the sport of golf, it seems that a small number of people are together in a wide field, so there is a perception that it is relatively safe in the Corona situation, so it seems to have been affected.

Besides, since I can't go abroad, people who used to play golf abroad have no choice but to play at home...

That demand must have come to domestic golf courses.

However, looking at the data from the National Statistical Office, the percentage of golf course use in 2030 did not increase dramatically.

Those in their 20s increased only 0.1%p from 1.9% in 2019 to 2.0% in 2021, and those in their 30s decreased from the rate two years ago.

It was the seniors in their 50s and older who increased the use of golf.

Among the elderly, those in their 50s increased the most from 11.6% to 20.2%, and the increase was significant enough to show an increase of 7.6%p among those aged 80 and over. 

golf dominates space

Compared to the past, the number of people using golf has definitely increased.

Despite this, golf courses still account for less than 1% of all sports facilities.

I brought the data of the registration report of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the sports facility business.

As of 2020, there are 514 golf courses in Korea.

Golf courses account for only 0.98% of all sports facilities.

But what about in terms of area?

The total area of ​​514 golf courses is a whopping 510,248,290 square meters!

The golf course area accounts for a whopping 89.7% of the total sports facilities.

The characteristic of golf is that it is a 'land' sport.

Since the land required for the facility is overwhelmingly larger than other sports facilities, many people question whether golf is a sport suitable for the domestic environment.

However, the number of golf courses has steadily increased over the past decade.

Enlarging an image

Ten years ago, in 2011, the national golf course area was 385.36 million square meters.

In 2012, it exceeded 400 million square meters, and in 2019 it exceeded 500 million square meters.

While steadily expanding the area every year, we maintain the upper 80% of the total sports facility area.

10-year average of 88.2%.

In 2019, it even surpassed 90% for the first time.

The number of golf courses has also increased significantly.

In 2011, there were 416 golf courses nationwide, but 98 new golf courses were created in 10 years, and in 2020, the number reached 514.

Q. How many golf courses in Korea are compared to the rest of the world?

We took a look at <Gofl Around the World> published by the British Royal Golf Association R&A.

According to the report, there are a total of 38,081 golf courses worldwide as of 2020, which are distributed in 206 out of 251 countries.

80% of the world's golf courses are concentrated in the top 10 countries, including Korea.

There are a total of 810 golf courses in Korea, ranking 8th in the world.

The country with the most golf courses in the world is the United States, with a total of 16,156.

It accounts for 42% of the total.

It is followed by Japan, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, France and Korea.

So what about China, the largest territory in Asia?

China has 617 courses, ranked in the top 10, below Korea.

In China, the golf industry has not grown significantly due to strong regulations in the past.

Former Chinese President Mao Zedong called golf the green opium for reasons such as ecological destruction, lack of groundwater, and a sense of incongruity.

Although the government still does not encourage the golf industry, the growing middle class inside China is making golf more popular.

Golf Course Grass = Water + Pesticides

Water and pesticides are essential to maintaining a large lawn.

Let's start by looking at how much water is used.

Grass is really drinking a lot of water.

Did any of you readers know that in the United States, watering lawns is punishable by fines?

Since 2000, the United States has suffered from severe drought and large-scale wildfires, resulting in a shortage of water.

California has limited lawn watering and car washing to once a week.

Failure to do so is a fine.

In a situation where water itself is scarce, there is too much water used for lawns, so the state has regulated it altogether.

If so, how much water is used per day for lawn in Korean golf courses?

Although there are variations depending on the climate, it is said that an average of 800 to 900 tons of water is used per day for 18 holes in Korea.

Let's do a calculation on this basis.

As of 2020, the number of golf course holes nationwide is 10,077.

This means that 44.4 tons of water is used per hole, which means that a whopping 447,867 tons of water is used in one day.

It was criticized for using 300 tons of water on one day of Psy's performance. What would happen if golf courses across the country used the same water a day?

From today to the end of July 2026, Psy will be able to immerse himself in the show without a break for a total of 1,493 days.

That's huge, isn't it?

Enlarging an image

Golf courses use a lot of pesticides as well as water.

Why are pesticides used on golf courses?

To keep the lawn in good condition.

The Ministry of Environment researches and analyzes nationwide soil and groundwater information through the Soil and Groundwater Information System.

The golf course is specially managed, and if you enter this system, you can see how much pesticide was used for each golf course.

In fact, in the past, the use of toxic pesticides on golf courses was a problem.

From 2003 to 2020, there were 12 cases of using highly toxic and highly toxic pesticides.

Of course, highly toxic pesticides can be used if the head of the competent administrative agency approves. Except in this case, there are only two cases of illegal use of pesticides.

In addition, no highly toxic and highly toxic pesticides have been detected since 2010.

Enlarging an image

The problem of illegal pesticides is no longer a problem, but the problem is that many pesticides are still sprayed on golf courses.

And its usage is also increasing as the number of golf courses increases.

As of 2020, the total amount of pesticides used was 202.1 tons.

This is an increase of 8.6% compared to last year.

In addition, the use of pesticides per unit area continued to increase, exceeding 6kg/ha for the first time in 2020.

Why did we have to spray more pesticides?

Again, it is because of climate change.

As the rainy season becomes longer and rains become more frequent, the pesticides are quickly washed away.

To keep the lawn in good condition, you have no choice but to spray more pesticides.

If that happens, the possibility of soil and water pollution will continue to increase.

The pesticides used are also an issue.

As of 2020, the pesticide used the most at golf courses in Korea is chlorothalonil, and the total amount used is 13.7 tons, accounting for 6.8% of the total.

However, it is a drug banned in the EU.

The EU and Switzerland have banned the use of this pesticide since the end of 2019 because it is dangerous and highly toxic to the ecosystem.

In addition, it was found that it had an effect on the decline of bee populations, accelerating the expulsion.

But in our country it is still used.

Fake environmental impact assessment

There is an environmental evaluation system that must be followed when developing a city, constructing an airport, or creating a new sports facility.

It is a system that examines the environmental impact of new development in an area where animals and plants lived well.

From how animals and plants live in the development area, what kind of damage will be suffered from development, and what are the water quality, air quality, and noise conditions…

A general environmental assessment is required.

Golf courses are of course included in this system, so they must undergo an environmental impact assessment before construction.

Most golf courses cut trees and lay grass on the mountains, so existing habitats are likely to disappear.

The forest will also be greatly damaged.

In addition, since it uses a lot of water, it also affects groundwater, and pesticides for lawns have pollution problems, so golf course builders must take measures to minimize environmental impact.

The problem is that there are plenty of golf courses that don't keep this promise.

If you don't keep your promises, there won't be any problems with sales.

Even if the government orders it, there is no need to follow it because it is not compulsory, and the fine for negligence is only a few million won, so it is enough to pay the fine and do business.

Of the 26 new golf courses created in the past five years, only 9 have kept their promises to protect the environment, and the remaining 17 golf courses are not keeping their promises.

Enlarging an image

The government intends to bring a stronger wind to golf, which has met a tailwind.

The government's goal of golfing population by 2026 is 6 million.

We plan to increase the number of golf courses accordingly.

Of course, there is a proviso that it is eco-friendly, but if the environmental impact assessment is just a simplistic as it is now, environmental destruction may be obvious.

For this reason, environmental groups are raising their voices that it should be managed by strengthening environmental regulations on golf courses.

This is the article prepared by Mabu News today.

We've looked at the environmental impact of golf with our data, and there's still a long way to go.

Even at this moment, many golf courses are in a situation where environmental protection is taking the backseat.

In the meantime, Mabu News has looked at environmental issues in various fields such as the Olympics, food issues, and elections, including today's letter. Are there any other areas that readers are curious about?

If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading this long article today (*This article is an edited article from the Wandering Newsletter.)

Enlarging an image

Subscribing to the Striking Newsletter ​→

Written by

 : Hye-min Ahn 


 : Jun  -seok Ahn


 : Su-min Kang, Dong-yong Kang