An internet personality and environmentalist has gone viral across social media after demanding that the sport of golf be “eradicated”, claiming it is “socially and environmentally destructive”.
Abbie Richards, who coins herself ‘The Anti-Golf Girl’, has been condemning the sport in a series of videos posted across Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Trending the hashtag ‘cancelgolf’, Richards claims the sport is “quite literally a waste of space”, one symbolising “waste, excess and inequality.” The climate student at Wageningen University has over 200,000 followers on TikTok, and has generated 2.1 million likes on the platform.
However, the posts have been met with backlash and criticism from golfers around the world. Andy Roberts from Golf World described an article Richards wrote for EuroNews as, “one of the most ridiculous I’ve ever read”. Other golfers have also expressed their grievances with the environmentalist. Liam Barron, an avid golfer from the UK, commented that Richards is “absolutely losing her mind”, whilst one golfer on Twitter wrote: “Shame on you Abbie, golf is an unbelievable sport and is an outlet for any age, gender or ability.”
Whilst Richards argues golf course land should be used for something less harmful to the environment, there are also multiple examples to suggest courses can be beneficial for restoring destroyed land. For example, Chambers Bay, which hosted the 2015 U.S. Open, is a course built on an old mining sanctuary, whilst Liberty National which hosted the 2017 President’s Cup was once an old oil terminal infiltrated with toxic waste. These restored sites now offer a safe, green space for golfers. Many courses also provide space for maintaining wildlife, such as Pinehurst in North Carolina, which offers over 20 colonies of woodpeckers a space to live and prosper.
But the environmentalist turned TikTok sensation disregards these cases. “There is a common misconception that to play golf is to be in nature”, Richards says writing for EuroNews. “Golf courses are not natural, they are nature-themed amusement parks that require the deforestation and restructuring of the land.” Richards pointed to stats released by the United States Golf Association (USGA), in which over 9 billion litres of water are used in the US alone each year to maintain the appearance of golf courses.
Richards is not the only one to condemn golf recently. Columnist and academic Jenna Price also called for golf courses to be “shut down”, arguing they “use up valuable space in places that need more genuinely public land.” Back in 2015, filmmaker Anthony Baxter also produced the documentary A Dangerous Game, looking at the destruction caused by building and maintaining golf courses around the world.
Despite the backlash, Richards shows no desire to slow down her viral condemnation of the sport, as she continues to post regular videos on social media criticising golf. At the same time, the USGA insists they are continuing to rigorously evaluate the consumption of natural resources, and aim to maintain a healthy balance between established management systems and environmental sustainability.