Living on the golf course – concern about pesticides/chemicals?

Guys,



I am a complete golf ignorant person - posting to clarify some concerns about living on a golf course from the more knowledgeable folks here.



We have been looking for a home for almost 2 years now and recently happened to like one that has many of the things we need and it is in a golf course HOA community. The backyard of this property faces the golf course. The views are awesome and we can see ourselves enjoying living there.



As I was searching online about our chances of getting hit by golf balls in the backyard, I stumbled onto more worrying literature about the very high pesticide/ chemicals used on golf courses. The quarter acre backyard of this property sits immediately adjacent to a fairway. I am aware the golf course chemicals do not contact us directly, but I have been reading and am concerned about these spreading by aerosol and dislodgement, especially because of the very high doses used. There is a lot of info online about how long term exposure to several of these chemicals is implicated in cancers. I know these are not cast-in-stone conclusions, but because of our family situation with a young disabled son, we are very risk averse to long term health concerns. I would not have worried if we wanted only to play on the course for several hours every week, but the fact we will be living in this property 24/7/365 has me worried about the continuous exposure.



I am attaching below some pictures reg. where this property is located with respect to the golf course. I want to know how exposed this property / backyard is to pesticide / chemicals used on the golf course (by runoff, dislodgement, aerosol, etc) because of its location? Any other helpful info reg. how chemicals / pesticides are applied to courses, for eg, do greens get more chemicals than fairways, what typically is the frequency/dosage of application, how are these applied (?spray, etc) and any other details that can inform our decision making process is greatly appreciated.



PS: I am aware and respect the widely varying opinions on how toxic these pesticides may really be, and I realize I may be being overtly paranoid here. But with our fragile living / family situation, we are really not in a position to take even marginal risks.



Thank you for reading and for your time!





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Comments

  • Par ForePar Fore Members Posts: 1,294 ✭✭
    edited Oct 24, 2014 #2
    Nice home. One of the problems with the internet is that there is an opinion about everything. Are any of the literature from any peer reviewed journals or is it a he said she said kind of report? I have yet to hear of or read any research that shows that the cancer rates on populations adjacent to golf courses are higher than those who live off of a golf course. Have you contacted the course? That would be my first action. Ask about the types and amount of chemicals that are used. I personally don't think that your risks are going to be any higher there than anywhere else.
  • MDH713MDH713 Members Posts: 17
    I am a spray tech for a private club on the north side of Indianapolis and I would say you do not have much to worry about with the vapor or drifting. It looks like you are far enough away that the chemicals will dissolve before they even reach your property. I have been working where im at now for 3 years and the houses on my course sit a lot closer than what yours does and I've never had a complaint.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    Par Fore wrote:


    Nice home. One of the problems with the internet is that there is an opinion about everything. Are any of the literature from any peer reviewed journals or is it a he said she said kind of report? I have yet to hear of or read any research that shows that the cancer rates on populations adjacent to golf courses are higher than those who live off of a golf course. Have you contacted the course? That would be my first action. Ask about the types and amount of chemicals that are used. I personally don't think that your risks are going to be any higher there than anywhere else.




    Thanks. Yes, that is a good suggestion about contacting the course, although my feeling is they may not like a non-member outsider who is not even a homeowner at the HOA yet probing into potentially sensitive issues.



    Regarding the science, I will have to search those again. I have some familiarity with scientific research and felt they sounded credible enough to raise some flags. I don't think there are studies actually comparing people living on and off courses, but there were a few showing increased cancer risk in golf course superintendents. There was less rigorous material from some environmental organizations, magazines and even lawsuits from families of golf course supers and there were several mentions of the volatility of compounds used and how this may affect people living on the courses. Besides, there is always the problem with showing connections between long term exposure and chronically developing conditions such as cancer.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    edited Oct 24, 2014 #5
    MDH713 wrote:


    I am a spray tech for a private club on the north side of Indianapolis and I would say you do not have much to worry about with the vapor or drifting. It looks like you are far enough away that the chemicals will dissolve before they even reach your property. I have been working where im at now for 3 years and the houses on my course sit a lot closer than what yours does and I've never had a complaint.




    Thanks for responding. You are the kind of person I was hoping to reach by posting here!



    I know practices vary by location, but can you give me a sense of how frequently, how much and how close to home boundaries chemicals are usually applied at golf courses in general? I am particularly concerned about volatile compounds that may be used. Any other information that is relevant to our situation will be greatly appreciated.
  • MDH713MDH713 Members Posts: 17
    The spraying that will be going on up close to your house will be a lot less than what is sprayed on the fairways, green and tees. The Rough(which separates your house and fairway) will probably only be sprayed once a month and that's just for broadleaf(clover, dandelions) They will probably put a fertilizer app down in the rough but you don't have to worry about spray since most of the time its a granular. This is all speculation and will vary by course. My course we will spray all the way up to property line if need be but its generally not a lot sprayed or very often because its not really a main area of play.



    The fairways, tees and greens at my course are sprayed bi-weekly. Fairways and tees one week and then greens the next week. This happens all season long(March-oct). On average we are spraying about 6 or 7 days a month. This all depends on the courses budget and how much they can spend. Some might only be able to due the bare minimum. We can spray up to 200 gallons(one full tank) on one hole depending on the size of it. Depending on the wind that day some drift could possibly reach but I would say it would be very very minimal. Most applications are sprayed very early in the morning so they can be done before the golfers start. Restricted Use Products(RUP) are what you have to worry about. Those are the very dangerous ones that could harm your health overtime. We do not use any of those at my course so I don't have much knowledge on them.



    Hopefully this will help you out some. If you need any more help just ask, I'm sure I've forgotten something. Just remember this is how my course does it and all courses will be different in some way. Courses mostly use all the same common chemicals though. It would be best to contact the superintendent if you can and talk to him to see exactly what is used and how dangerous it could be.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    Thank you. That is very useful info again - gives me a good sense of what actually takes place, rather than random guesses or worst-casing without actual info. I will try to call the course early next week and your info helps me develop a baseline from which to ask more educated questions. I am not sure they are obliged to answer any of my questions though.



    Can I ask what pesticides are typically used (brand or chemical names) on golf courses (besides RUP)? And which among these are typically used in the highest volume? Are these sprayed as a fine mist application?



    200 gallons a hole makes it 3600 gallons for the whole course - am I reading this right? And is this the combined maximum of all chemicals, or per each chemical?



    Are there any national guidelines or recommendations that place upper limits and how rigorously are these typically followed?



    Sorry for all the questions! Yes, I completely get that the particular details can vary between courses and geographies, but this is tremendously useful info for someone who is a complete novice to golf.
  • teejaywhyteejaywhy Official GolfWRX Curmudgeon Members Posts: 7,205 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Oct 25, 2014 #8
    I believe the chemical application practices have changed and improved over the years not just from an environmental standpoint, but cost as well. Chemical application is very tightly controlled. Of course, there is a vocal faction who believe that golf is a threat to the planet but I don't find these claims to have much credibility especially considering the source. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to do your own due diligence as it is you and your family who will be directly affected.



    Personally, I would never want to live on a golf course just because of the daily proximity of... golfers. 40 years of observing the behavior of a small percentage of idiots is enough to make me realize I have no desire to have a steady stream of ball collectors and urinators on my property on a daily basis.



    And the particular property you are looking at... inside dogleg... no thanks.
  • Chief IlliniwekChief Illiniwek Members Posts: 2,762 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    I'm a farmer and deal with chemicals and pesticides a lot, including taking a class every three years to be licensed to buy and apply restricted use chemicals. Generally speaking the chemicals I'm most cautious with are insecticides, as they are usually more toxic to people than herbicides. I understand your added concern because of your son. I'd want to know if golf courses apply insecticides. If not my concern would be next to nothing. All restricted use pesticides have a label describing how long to stay out of the applied area. I'd ask the greenskeeper nicely if he could keep you informed on their restricted use chemical application schedule and follow label guidelines. Maybe double the no entry times for peace of mind.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    teejaywhy wrote:


    And the particular property you are looking at... inside dogleg... no thanks.




    Is that because inside doglegs tend to get more balls than usual, or are there other reasons?
  • BillyZ2BillyZ2 Members Posts: 5,248 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    That house will probably get some pulls and hooked balls into the yard, and possibly hit the house. It looks like that it's a distance that could have the occasional drive come into it. Also, when drives do enter your property, you will get the idiots tromping through the yard looking for their ball. A ball through a window is not out of the question, nor is drunken golfers using foul language. Just the same, there are many positive attributes about living on a golf course. If I were to live on a golf course, I would be very picky of the location. Good luck, bro!
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    I'd want to know if golf courses apply insecticides. If not my concern would be next to nothing. All restricted use pesticides have a label describing how long to stay out of the applied area.




    Thanks. My main concern I guess is regarding volatile chemicals persisting in the immediate air following such applications, and us being exposed to it day in and day out. I will certainly inquire with them regarding insecticide use - that is good to know.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    Tom Gski wrote:


    If I were to live on a golf course, I would be very picky of the location.




    Would this home make the cut?
  • BillyZ2BillyZ2 Members Posts: 5,248 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Tom Gski wrote:


    If I were to live on a golf course, I would be very picky of the location.




    Would this home make the cut?
    Man, that looks like a beautiful home, and actually, I would love to live in a house like that. To answer your question, I would have to see it in person to give you an honest answer. From the looks of it though, yes, it sure could make the cut. As far as chemicals, I would talk with the golf course personally. I would ask how often they apply chemicals, when, how, and their thoughts of your questions. Think of it this way, there are millions of people living on golf courses in the USA. You are the first I have heard of with this concern, although I think is is a legitimate concern. Remember, you are the one laying you head on the pillow when you go to bed at night, and getting a peaceful night's sleep is a great thing.

    Again, best wishes!!!
  • gwchemgwchem Members Posts: 860
    I had a similar conversation with the wife. The only way I'd buy a house on a fairway would be if I've played the hole 20 times. And sat in the backyard for an entire busy Saturday. My drives are as long and wild as anyone, so of a golf ball has a way to find those windows, I'll find it.
  • teejaywhyteejaywhy Official GolfWRX Curmudgeon Members Posts: 7,205 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    teejaywhy wrote:


    And the particular property you are looking at... inside dogleg... no thanks.




    Is that because inside doglegs tend to get more balls than usual, or are there other reasons?




    That is the main reason yes, people trying to cut the dog leg. Most golfers tend to slice the ball so I think a house on the left side is preferable. The cart path is routed on the opposite side so that is a big positive as well.



    I'm pretty sure the sellers will have to disclose the frequency of balls in the yard and previous damage. Make sure your agent requests this info.
  • cardoustiecardoustie haha, we don't play for 5's Tasmania to CanadaMembers Posts: 12,500 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    I live on a course



    You need to know how long the hole is and how far you are from the blue and white tees, what hole number is it?



    I back onto a hole that is 390 yards and we are 70 yards from the green on the left ... Ie tee balls can't reach us



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  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    edited Oct 25, 2014 #18
    cardoustie wrote:


    I live on a course




    I am curious if you have ever worried about pesticide use on the course and your possible exposure to it?
  • bmaas03bmaas03 Members Posts: 543 ✭✭
    edited Oct 27, 2014 #19


    200 gallons a hole makes it 3600 gallons for the whole course - am I reading this right? And is this the combined maximum of all chemicals, or per each chemical?



    Are there any national guidelines or recommendations that place upper limits and how rigorously are these typically followed?




    This is an assumption, but 200 gallons is likely the mixture of water and pesticide - not the amount of pesticide concentrate. You'll find these numbers are sometimes distorted for the purposes of drawing a nasty picture of the amount of pesticide used, when it is much more likely that the amount of active ingredient used over the entire course is less than soda can. This is again my assumption on this amount. I'll let the other poster confirm.



    Yes, there are national guidelines which set strict standards for the amount of pesticides that can be applied to a single area over a specific period of time. These guidelines are based on peer reviewed tests and are occasionally revised based on more recent literature. They are all regulated by the EPA and OSHA and sometimes local/state regulatory agencies. As far as how often these things are followed - the EPA conducts periodic inspections to verify that label rates are adhered to. More importantly, it would stand to reason that anyone who is a certified applicator would only apply pesticides as the label directs, so as to protect themselves from harm as well. With anything, people make mistakes or break rules, but I don't think that applying pesticides outside of the label rate is a common practice for both health and monetary reasons.



    One thing to remember is that all of these rates (and really the rates of anything in our daily lives) are based on risk and toxicity. You can't prove that water is 100% safe - if you catch my drift. A very small percentage of any population will have some folks that are more sensitive to certain chemicals or compounds than others. If your son generally falls into this category based on previous experiences, you might find even the odor of some of the pesticides too much of a concern to deal with, although I would still be very comfortable saying that your family is not at risk.

    I manage the safety and health compliance for a large, year-round farming operation if you're curious of my expertise.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    edited Oct 27, 2014 #20
    bmaas03 wrote:


    I manage the safety and health compliance for a large, year-round farming operation if you're curious of my expertise.




    Thank you for the helpful post! It is good to hear from someone who works with these.
  • Thug HunterThug Hunter Members Posts: 2,615 ✭✭
    edited Oct 28, 2014 #21
    I would be more worried about errant shots from hackers, especially in that house as it appears to be in the landing zone for that particular hole. I'd check the siding on the house, roof, window frames and other signs of balls hitting the house. I live in a golf course community, but do not live on the course or within striking distance. But I see many homes with visible damage from errant tee shots (dents in the siding mainly). I passed a house on the same course a couple months ago and saw two broken windows too. That could get expensive for the homeowner as most golfers won't take responsibility for the damage. As far as the chemicals go, think about it this way. Professional golfers spend everyday of the week (think full time job) on the actual course, not 50 yards away in a house that backs up to a fairway. You don't see any of them dropping at an alarming rate from health concerns related to golf course chemicals. Their time is spent on the actual course, handling equipment and golf balls that are rolling around in said chemicals.



    BTW, fire ants are really the only nuisance on a Dallas area golf course. Pesticides are not a heavy need from my experience of playing golf in Texas for over 30 years now.
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  • Thug HunterThug Hunter Members Posts: 2,615 ✭✭
    Another BTW, I'm definitely going aggressive on that hole and cutting that corner to try and land over that left side bunker. An overcooked draw definitely brings that house into play for my misses.
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  • BirdiesnoBogeysBirdiesnoBogeys Featured Writer Posts: 197
    The fertilizers courses are using these days are generally very safe and pose very little risk to humans and the environment. Dont get me wrong, of course there are some risks but these have been reduced significantly as environmental concerns rise. The danger these fertilizers pose to humans are generally only relevant when ingested, i.e. dont put your ball or tee in your mouth on days the course is fertilizing. I wouldn't let the use of fertilizers be an influence on your decision, the home looks beautiful. The only slight concern, that you may want to look into, is the number of balls that tend to enter the backyard in a given year. Based on the pictures you have posted, I think that your yard would be a little bit short of where balls would be landing, the house is definitely on the safest side - as it was mentioned above most golfers are right handed and their most common miss is when the ball goes right. Good luck making your decision, but I will echo everyone else in this post; dont worry about the fertilizers.
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  • dmblanchdmblanch cranky duffer Members Posts: 757
    edited Oct 28, 2014 #24
    I can say nothing about pesticides and your location, but I can say that 200 to 270 yards from a the tee on the inner curve of a dogleg par 4 is a friggin tee shot magnet. You'll get peppered constantly. It would be worse if the dogleg curved right instead of left because more hackers slice right. In that case, the danger zone is lowered to about 150 to 240 and those people in that danger zone quickly find out that they're living in a urethane hail storm. Sadly many if not most of the folks who buy homes situated in these magnet spots tend to be non-golfers. The reason being that golfers know better than to buy in these magnet spots. They'll buy near or behind tee boxes.



    My parents live about 180 yards from the tee of a left turning dogleg 4. About the same position your house sits. they are about 50 yards from the fairway edge and separated by a very big thicket of trees. They still find balls in the back of the pick-up truck all the time. I myself have hit their house and I know not to aim there!



    It will not be a rare event. It will be a "find a dozen balls in my yard every week" event. Just so you know. This may not bother you.



    And regardless of the signs posted on every course, no golfer who has just hit your house will ever own up to the fact that he's just hit you and caused damage. If damage is caused, it'll be you fixing it, not the course, and the culprit will never be found.
  • golfignorantgolfignorant Members Posts: 10
    Thank you all for the helpful suggestions!



    My concern with balls landing in the backyard is with regards to potential for injury - is that an issue? I am not sure how heavy a ball is and what risk it poses at the speed it is traveling? Rare to occasional damage to the property I may be able to live with, depending on how much overall it will cost me per year.



    Pardon my naivete, but where exactly is the tee box here? If it is where the 2 cart paths meet to form sort of an apex of a triangle on the left, Google Maps tells me the home sits more than 500 feet to the right from it.
  • tatertottatertot Members Posts: 4,591 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Not sure about the source, but this report has some interesting info in it from university studies:



    http://www.toxicsinfo.org/Lawn/Pesticides & Cancer.htm
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  • dmblanchdmblanch cranky duffer Members Posts: 757
    edited Oct 28, 2014 #27
    You appear to live on the first hole of your country club. I've found which one it is, but I won't name it here. It's a 400 yard par 4 from the blue tees, so good drives are supposed to land between those two sandtraps. Bad drives can reach your house. Drives can go 300 yards or 900 feet. They can break windshields or knock you unconscious.



    What's worse is that you live on the first hole. Nobody is warmed up yet and their drives will be even more erratic than usual. If they lose the first or second attempt, they'll put down a third.



    You may be thinking about this home as a serene country oasis with green space. At night, it will be peaceful. During the day, starting early every morning, expect to have uninvited guests rooting around, mixed with surprising CLUNKS on the roof every so often. Some knuckleheads will try to hop the fence, many will try to fish balls over the fence with ball retrievers.



    Find a driving range and watch people hit for a half an hour sometime. Note how little they can control where their shots go. You may decide this house is not for you.
  • BillyZ2BillyZ2 Members Posts: 5,248 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Just the thought of pesticides being a possible source of cancer would weigh on my mind when considering where I live. I wonder how golf courses apply fertilizers ad pesticides? Is is sprayed on or spread on? Spread on wouldn't bother me that much, but spraying can be wind born where it could be an issue.
  • bmaas03bmaas03 Members Posts: 543 ✭✭


    Thank you all for the helpful suggestions!



    My concern with balls landing in the backyard is with regards to potential for injury - is that an issue? I am not sure how heavy a ball is and what risk it poses at the speed it is traveling? Rare to occasional damage to the property I may be able to live with, depending on how much overall it will cost me per year.






    I've been hit in the face, just above my eye (from a guy that didn't yell "fore" and didn't show any concern, but that's a different story). While I was extremely lucky that it hit the bone under my eyebrow and I only needed 2 stitches, I still had a CAT scan to determine if any fractures were present. Needless to say, if the ball had been a half inch in either direction, I would have lost my eye or possibly been struck in the temple and the situation would have been much worse. Potential for injury depends on how much time you'll spend in your back yard, I suppose. The speed of the golf ball will be less in the landing zone than it would be near the tee box.
  • bwrichmondbwrichmond Bomb and gouge??? More like bomb, search, gouge if you find it Members Posts: 1,206 ✭✭
    I think I'll add a couple of things regarding living on a golf course, as my wife and I moved onto one a little over a year ago.



    We moved onto a nine hole golf course in Indianapolis, IN. The course is very short, and not a difficult test, which is both a blessing and a curse. The great part about that is that it doesn't get that much play. The bad part is that the play it does get is from less skilled golfers. We live left of a par 5 green, which is typically a bad place to be because golfers tend to go for greens in two on par 5's from longer distances, creating a greater potential for wayward shots.



    However, because we live left of the green, our potential for golf balls is limited, as most miss to the right of the green. Our yard is fully fenced with a locked gate, as it appears the home you're looking at also has. If that's the case, you'll often find peope will walk up to the fence to look for their ball, and may even stick a ball retreiver inside the fence line to retrieve it. The other consideration which led us to agree to buy the home was it's protection by a large amount of very mature trees. The golf ball would have to get through many mature trees on a line towards the house to reach. I consider the potential for property damage or injury in my back yard very minimal given those trees. I smoke cigars on the back patio with regular frequency and never worry about possible contact. I've not had any thoughts at all as to the use of chemicals on the golf course, but my wife and I are not risk averse at all when it comes to that sort of thing and we don't have children who may have a greater propensity to be playing in the back yard near where the chemicals may be sprayed.



    We chose to move to this home because I am an avid golfer and I love the views and the "free" practice time as dusk approaches. Similar to your situation, the house fit our needs as well. One thing I failed to think of at the time we bought the house was just how early the sometimes noisy maintenance would begin on the golf course. In the summer, the course employees begin cutting grass much earlier than my wife and I like to rise on the weekends. On weekdays, we're gone before the maintenance begins, so it's not as big of a deal for us.



    If I had to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. We love the house, I love the golf course, and my wife loves the (mostly) quiet area.
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  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and SouthwestMembers Posts: 15,819 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Oct 28, 2014 #31
    I have owned homes on fairways for fifteen years. Make sure the house is on the left side of the fairway and past 220yards. If its set back off the fairway, 30+ yards, you're not likely to get hit. People that miss the fairway by that much are slicers, off to the right side. Both our homes were hit 1 time. As for Pesticides, neither property was fenced so when courses sprayed, some would reach the back edges. But not enough for us to be concerned regarding our son and his friends playing outside. All are in college now. We're in the throws of looking for our last home and it's going to be in a gated golf community on the course with no fences. Oh, you'll get use to early morning mower sounds, to the point, you don't even notice them. Also, if you're buying on a golf course, your house will either get hit or you'll find balls in the year now and again; which is problematic for little ones. The greater concern is making sure it's in a zone where its not likely. Par 5, over 240 out on the left is best. Not likley off the tee and remote for second shot.
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