Golf Course Under Fire for Encouraging Players to Hit Balls into Lake Michigan

Golf Course
Mandi Wright and Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press via AP

A Michigan golf course has come under fire for polluting Lake Michigan by encouraging players to hit golf balls into the water from its 12th hole.

The Arcadia Bluffs Golf Course outside Arcadia, Michigan, had a long tradition of telling players to hit balls out into the lake from its bluff side 12th hole. The course even encouraged golfers to indulge the habit on its website.

“Once you’ve launched a ball into Lake Michigan, on purpose, turn your attention to the native bunker on the right side of the fairway as it is your aiming point on the tee shot,” the course told visitors. ”

“Go ahead and do it, everyone does,” the course said.

But lately, the course has come under fire for polluting the lake with thousands of golf balls.

According to USA Today, the course is being accused of “plastics pollution.”

“Golfers have heeded that urging, in unknown numbers, round by round, every day of golf season, since Arcadia Bluffs opened in Manistee County 20 years ago,” the paper reported this week. “The result: untold thousands of golf balls into Lake Michigan — a “shocking,” “frivolous” and “ridiculous” contribution to the rising plastics pollution problem in the Great Lakes and worldwide waterways, environmental advocates said.”

Recently the Free Press hired a diver to take a video of the lake bed showing the thousands of golf balls lining the area near the 12th hole.

“I’m pretty disappointed that someone would be promoting polluting the Great Lakes, putting plastic in the Great Lakes in these days and times,” Chris Roxburgh said. “Especially publicly promoting it on their website.”

After taking criticism, the course removed the comments about the 12th hole from its website.

“The description of the 12th hole has been updated, eliminating the reference to hitting balls into the water. Thank you for drawing our attention to this outdated reference,” Arcadia Bluffs president William Shriver told the Free Press.

Despite the media and activist’s complaints, though, the state agency concerned with lake pollution said it is not overly worried about the balls.

“This is not something we would really spend much time on, simply from the level of effort that would go into overseeing this,” said Teresa Seidel, the water resources division director for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

“Not that we are condoning anybody putting anything into waterways. But from a resource perspective, we can’t follow up on something like this. … Because of our limited resources, we have to prioritize issues of greater environmental concern.”

Still, Seidel added that the agency would look into the situation.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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