Look out planet, the whole developing world is sitting on the tee!

Richard Rhodes is an ex City-boy, turned environmentalist. He lives in Thailand with his wife and children and runs an eco-frame business (check it out!) If you feel like writing for us, drop us an email!

There is a good reason why I don’t play golf. Several years ago I “played” at a course in Cardiff and managed to loose 13 balls in 12 holes. I never made the 18th. As you can imagine I get reminded of this incident from time to time. It’s a great shame as one of the best golf courses in Thailand was recently completed behind our house.

The earth is a golf ball

Last week our long serving “Pee leaing dick” (nanny in Thai) left us at the drop of a hat. Who knows why. So we’ve been busy recruiting in the local villages. Rabbit warrens of old teak houses and interconnecting lanes characterise these beautiful hamlets from yesteryear. However, there is one touch of modernity: The golf course. And nearly all the local women are working there. The prettiest have been creamed off to work in the restaurant and everyone else gets to be a caddy. You don’t play without in this part of the world. Of course they don’t speak a word of Korean, Japanese or English and know less about golf than me. But they make willing bag carriers. And there are rules. Punishment for sitting in a golf buggy is a stint of weeding in the beds with the male folk. We know this as our 50 year old seamstress got lazy one day. She’s back caddying now though.

Golf courses are not the best for the environment. They are extremely thirsty and their olive fairways and peppermint greens are no more than a façade. Green deserts if you will. There’s a good chance they were carved out of woodland too. But try telling that to the locals. Given the choice between slaving in the paddy fields and hunting for lost balls, I know which option they’d prefer. And the jump from the farm to the tee is just the start. Motorcycle to car, fan to air-conditioning and “what’s a holiday?” to “where do you fly to?” are all to come. Look out planet.

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