In 2006, I spent a couple weeks in Japan and purchased a Yomiuri Giants hat for my father while attending a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome.
My dad loved that hat. None of his buddies knew what the logo was and he enjoyed explaining it to them. Anyway, a few months after I gave it to him, he was wearing the hat while we were out hacking up this local 9-holer.
When I was dropping him off home after the round, I noticed he didn’t have it on and asked him about it. “Ah sh*t! I think I left it in the basket on the cart!” He called the course but they didn’t have it. He called again the next day to see if someone turned it in, but still nothing. He even drove down to the course a couple days later to check the lost and found bin…nada. The hat was lost.
But that got me wondering about something I had never thought about before – the fact that golf courses have a lost and found bin to begin with.
Let me ask you something: How many head covers have you lost on the course over the years? Every damn time you get on the tee-box you have to take the head cover off your driver and put it back on after your shot – It’s so annoying. It’s far easier to just leave it in the cart basket until the round is over. Ah, but inevitably it will just be left there to end up in the infamous lost and found bin (or end up on another driver who’s owner also lost a similar head cover the week before).
A better solution would be to leave the head cover in your trunk, since that’s where you need most of the club head protection. Problem solved.
But sadly, the club head cover and the hat are not the only things left on the course. Let me ask you something else: How many times has someone driven up to you in a cart and asked you if you left your pitching wedge on the previous green? How many times have you been the one in the cart doing the asking?
It’s one thing to leave a club head cover but quite another to leave a $100 club. Yet, we golfers do it all the time. Here’s the classic scenario: You’re in a cart (another reason to always walk) and your ball is just off the green. You can’t take the cart too close to the green so you grab your wedge and putter and walk over to your ball. After you chip on, you grab your putter and leave your wedge on the fringe. And there it stays until someone from one of the groups behind you finds it.
If you’re lucky, someone honest will find it and return it. If you’re not lucky, someone dishonest who needs a shiny new pitching wedge will get one for free. The good news is, vary rarely do we leave our $400 drivers!
But how many golf gloves have you left behind? How many divot repair tools? Watches? Cameras? Cell phones? Wedding rings??? Yep, these things can all be found in abundance in your local pro shop lost and found box.
We’ve all lost things on the course one time or another. We humans are prone to be forgetful (a major airline reports 10,000 lost items a week) and the golf course is no exception.
But there’s one item we all leave on the course and never even think about it – one item specific to the golf course. We never call the pro shop asking about them; never wonder what ever happened to them; we don’t even really care that much about losing them (in the long term, anyway).
I’m talking about golf balls, of course. We all leave those behind. In fact, golfers in the U.S. alone lose an estimated 300 million golf balls annually. Three hundred million!!! I know I’ve done my fair share of contributing to that number. And perhaps of all the things we lose on the course, the number of golf balls (whether we care or not) weighs the heaviest – on our scorecards, on our wallets, and on the planet.
If you care about my last point at all, purchase recycled or refurbished golf balls. Studies have shown that recycled and refurbished balls do not lose any playability compared to their new counterparts. Not only will you be supporting efforts to limit the number of these lost balls scattered about the earth, but you’ll be saving money to boot. So, that takes care of the planet and your wallet.
Your scorecard, on the other hand, I cannot help you with…You’re on your own with that one.