'Environmentally Insensitive' TPC Sawgrass Video Causes Considerable Debate Among Fans

The PGA Tour posted a video of TPC Sawgrass being prepared ahead of the Players Championship - with many fans picking up on one particular aspect

Main image of a groundskeeper cutting the 17th at TPC Sawgrass - inset image of PGA Tour video
(Image credit: Getty Images/PGA Tour)

With worldwide weather conditions fluctuating more than ever due to human-caused climate change, many fans are becoming more and more environmentally conscious in their daily lives.

Meanwhile, golf itself is working to become more sustainable in order to protect not only the sport but also the planet. The recent golf ball rollback decision was partially reached with sustainability in mind, preventing the need for longer courses and consequentially further resources to help take care of them.

Plenty of golf courses have also made the switch to electric machinery that is better for the environment.

Therefore, plenty of golfers on social media reacted unfavorably to a video released by the PGA Tour in the build-up to The Players Championship that showed a mass of gas lawnmowers being used to put the finishing touches to TPC Sawgrass' Stadium Course.

The start of the video showed around half a dozen mowers being started up by ground staff before the team set about following one another along an expansive area of rough.

Much of the remainder of the 25-second clip featured a similar theme throughout different areas of the Stadium Course, with the majority of the replies underneath on X criticizing the PGA Tour or TPC Sawgrass for their method of groundskeeping.

Andy Johnson, founder of The Fried Egg, quoted the video and added: "I can't think of a way you could make golf look more environmentally insensitive."

An account called Fastbanks said: "I can smell this video" - referring to the fumes produced by the mowers - while @airbud94 said: "so much air pollution, should be using electric."

Others pointed out that it was "not a good look" for the PGA Tour to be using their resources in this way as Thomas Bocchino asked the hosts of The Players: "What does your carbon footprint look like?"

Co-leader Rory McIlroy revealed back in 2021 that he is carbon neutral in his travel and pays extra to offset his emissions and ensure he is not unnecessarily damaging the planet.

He said: "What I was trying to do is make all my travel -- I wouldn't self-profess to be an eco warrior, but I'm someone that doesn't want to damage the environment anyway, so how can I make my travel around the world neutral, how can I neutralise what I do. 

"So on top of what I pay to fly private, I pay quite a bit more on top of that to make sure I'm carbon neutral by the end of the year."

Rory McIlroy salutes the crowd after holing a putt

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Once the 50th edition of The Players began, much of the talk was about how soft conditions were playing, as well as the shot-saving length of the rough in key areas. Around half of the field were under par at TPC Sawgrass, with McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, and Wyndham Clark setting the pace at an electric seven-under.

Some fans were calling for the rough to be reduced in order to create a tougher round for players, notably at 17 where the grass was acting as a curb to stop balls tumbling back into the water.

But Michael Kim - who shot an opening-round 68 (-4) on Thursday - defended conditions at the Stadium Course by suggesting that the set-up was appropriate given the fast greens.

On X, he said: "Most of the time I’d agree [that the rough should be cut down] but not this instance. Greens are too soft and fast and that bank is too steep plus wind in the face."

Play was suspended late on Thursday due to darkness, with a handful of players still to complete their final few holes early on Friday morning as the second-round action begins.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.