A day without a ride …


This is the first day in over a month that I haven’t been on one of the bikes. It felt strange. Instead, I packed up the golf clubs and headed to the golf course. I would have cycled but by the time I finished the round, the day was over.

I have a love – hate relationship with golf. I love the game. I was raised playing on a well designed summer course in rural Ontario. My mother taught me the game at an early age, and I have played it as long as I can remember. As much as I love playing, I also feel guilty playing. It is an elitist sport today. It is not how I learned the game. It didn’t cost much in those days, but that is not the case today. And, you have to question whether it is a practical, or environmentally friendly use of land when there is such a shortage of housing and green space in urban areas.

I am troubled with this dichotomy. On the one hand, I love playing the game, and the more I play, the more I want to play. But, on the other hand, I think there are more beneficial uses for the land, particularly in urban areas where there is an astonishing shortage of affordable housing. In Vancouver, where I live, we have the ocean to the west, the mountains to the north, and the US border to the south. The only way the city can grow is to the east along the Fraser River valley. As a consequence, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live, where the average house price now is over a $1,000,000, and where there are bidding wars on properties. One home was recently sold for $2,000,000 over the asking price.

The local course, where I have played for 20 years, is located centrally in the city on the Canada Line, the subway system built for the 2010 Olympics to quickly transport visitors downtown to the sporting venues. I love this course. Some think it is easy but it has its unique challenges. There is a proposal on the table to convert this course into a 9-hole course, and re-develop the land along the corridor into a mixed commercial and residential  complex.

At first, I was opposed to the idea. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it is exactly what is needed in the community. The city owns this very expensive piece of real estate. By selling it to developers, they will make an inordinate amount of money. Maybe my property taxes will be reduced. What do you think 🙂 Once developed, it will provide a variety of living alternatives for people wanting to live in the city.

I didn’t think about any of this while playing yesterday. I was too busy trying to keep the ball in play. It was only afterward that I began to think of the consequences.

Will I continue to play? Yes. But I may be playing a 9-hole course soon. And, maybe I can find a way to keep my clubs at the course so I can bike there.

14 thoughts on “A day without a ride …

  1. I used to sort of enjoy golf….before the days 2 broken collar bones and cycling. In our small town of 7,000, we have 2 18 hole courses. Iowa is the number one state in the nation for golf courses per capita.

    • “Sort of enjoy” is right on. It is one of those games you love one minute and hate the next. It’s that one good shot every round that keeps people coming back for for a lot more of them.

  2. That’s probably the only sport I found boring when I tried it. Well, boring is the wrong word. It took me half an hour to move the ball from where it was. And several bruises. LOL

    • Yes, I think boring is the wrong word. It is a difficult game, even for those that have played a long time. I was fortunate to start early, learned the basics well from my mother, and had a group of friends growing up at the cottage that enjoyed playing. But as you can tell, I am torn about playing, even though I enjoy it so much. These days, I see the bigger picture, and am more concerned about local issues like affordable housing and green space that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone. Thanks for the comment even though you are not a golfer … 🙂

  3. I do agree, especially as an architect living in London where housing prices are skyrocketing because of lack of land to build on, maybe we should build on golf courses instead. I bet you the golf community won’t be too chuffed about this…
    That being said, I have never played golf (does mini count? :D) and can’t really be objective in the matter. I think it’s exactly the elite nature of it that I dislike, if I was brought up the way you were, maybe I’d have a more mixed opinion.

    • I’m certainly torn. I never saw it as elitist growing up. It was anything but. We certainly didn’t have a lot of money. My family were not part of the country club set. I played rural, public courses.

      If you could see my book shelves, you would see numerous books on golf course design. I was, and still am to a certain extent, intrigued with golf course architecture. The course I played yesterday is a particularly poor example of design. It was too long to walk, there were too many blind shots, there wasn’t enough variety, and there was an extraordinary amount of wasted space.

      I have to admit I love being on a golf course in the early morning or late afternoon hours when it is quiet and the shadows are long. But as the years progress, I play less frequently, and realize the 100+ acres can be put to much better use.

      As an architect, you can appreciate this better than most. You see the possibilities and understand the environmental and social issues. When i see imaginative mixed-use developments replacing golf courses I feel much better. 🙂

  4. Now I feel terrible slamming golf on a reply to one of Dan’s posts that you might have read about someone saying to him cycling was childish. My wife’s brothers and dad golf and my father has in the past. My vision was pretty poor for distance prior to 14 years ago so I never developed a taste for it. I always preferred the rougher sports: motocross, quad racing, rodeo. Southern California is expensive for land and we have tons of golf courses and they all need water in this drought. However anything that helps one relax and focus I am all for.

    • There is no need to feel badly. We each have our sports. In Canada when I was growing up, we played hockey in the winter, and golfed in the summer. That’s what hockey players did.

      I spent a few years in Southern California. I know how hot and dry it can be there, particularly recently. You have an even bigger problem justifying the game than we do here. We have a lot of rain that waters the courses naturally, and we are not nearly as congested.

      You see why cycling makes so much sense. Its good exercise, gets you outside, you can share the roads and trails, and it is relatively inexpensive.

  5. LOL! “Maybe my taxes will be reduced?!” Try the veal and tip your wait staff… Maybe monkeys will fly out of your butt too. Too funny man, I needed a good laugh. Thanks!

    • What bothers me about golf courses is that so few people can enjoy their beauty. In a time when there is shortage of of urban green space, we need to rethink how the space is used.

      They got it right in your part of the world. Links courses were built on land not suitable for other purposes. I have not visited Scotland (yet) but one day I would like tour the links courses and sample the scotch whiskey.

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