- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — From the 100-foot hill of the 12th tee at McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links, players negotiate undulating, treeless fairways dotted with sand traps. The casinos of Atlantic City glitter 10 miles away.

Only the clear flame burning from a 20-foot smokestack in the middle of the course, and methane-well covers that warn against smoking, give golfers a hint that they are standing atop mounds of garbage.

Mounds, that is, that were capped, covered with 2 feet of soil, threaded with drainage and gas-collection systems, topped with grass, and interspersed with 18 flag sticks, fairways and greens.

About 70 of the nation’s nearly 16,000 golf courses use old landfills, strip mines or industrial “brownfields,” a concept that began 40 years ago and is gaining acceptance despite higher development costs, analysts said.

Although the trend preserves virgin land, some environmentalists are opposed to the approach, cautioning that blighted land requires constant monitoring and poses unknown health risks.

A multiyear battle by New York environmental groups failed to halt work on a course being built atop an old landfill in the Bronx.

Of the nearly 250 courses that opened in 2002, about 10 are on brownfields, estimates Roy Case, a golf-course architect.

“I think they will increase. It’s putting land that’s useless right now into some sort of public use,” said Mr. Case, whose Case Golf Co. is based in Lake Worth, Fla.

Many courses built on reclaimed land, like McCullough’s, are owned by towns and near population centers, so the fees and the course are within reach of the duffer of average means, he said.

At McCullough’s, a weekday round costs $60, $39 for township residents.

The trend toward building on distressed land is giving golf courses a second look from environmentalists, who have long complained that courses use too much water and produce runoff laden with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer.

Although courses built on landfills are monitored, Stephen Lester, a scientist with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice is not convinced course operators are up to the challenge.

“There are a range of volatile chemicals that are typically found in general, household garbage landfills,” including benzene and vinyl chloride, which have been linked to cancer in humans, Mr. Lester said.

The most common landfill gas is methane, which is produced from decaying organic material and is not considered toxic, but which can be explosive. But burning it, as several courses do, can produce toxic chemicals, Mr. Lester’s group says in a report.

Egg Harbor Township leases the land atop the landfill from its owner, Allied Waste Industries, one of the nation’s largest trash hauling and disposal firms. Allied has two full-time workers at McCullough’s and is responsible for collecting, treating and monitoring the gas and liquid produced by decomposition in the landfill, township administrator Peter J. Miller said.

Constructing a public golf course usually costs $3 million to $4 million, not including land acquisition.

Turning a dump into a golf course adds about 25 percent, Mr. Case estimates.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide