September 28, 2011

Change of course

A banyan tree has grown to fairy-tale size at The Golf Club, an abandoned golf course not far from around here. Fifty years old this year the golf course, and its popular club house, were the social hub in the scotch and samba sixties. The city now has golf courses galore - an Irish word that means, literally, enough. Surely. The Golf Club was purchased by a consortium four years ago, and was promptly closed, apparently in the hope that the property could be developed in a more lucrative direction. Those plans were bollixed by the city. It is now in litigation. But nature never waits for a settlement.

It's more overgrown now than when these photographs were taken. I’m OK with this state of "decline". If the lawn is one of the most profligate stressors of the environment on the planet, the golf course is its paragon. There were few if any lawns in the U.S., or so the story goes, until the Rockefellers saw Buckingham palace. They soon proceeded to plant acres of the stuff at their Pocantico estate, and before long homeowners across the country were imitating the Rockefellers imitating the Windsors. The invasion of the lawn is now complete. Grass is a crop. The only way it can be successfully maintained, without proper rotation, is with perpetual applications of chemical fertilizers, pest control, and water. Lots and lots of water.

A heron cops a drink, or a snack, at a pond.

Lost golf balls still lurk in the undergrowth.

The cup on the fifth green has filled up with sand.

A serpent-headed walk winds through an old fairway. Fittingly enough, more snakes roam and hunt here now do their hunters.

Although it's still private property and going there is discouraged, it's a popular spot for dog running, bird watching, skateboarding, and sunset strolls for those who aren't scared off by the isolation.