EcoAthlete Mackova: Much potential for environmental protection in golf
“It’s not okay, we could do better,” says Patricie Mackova in an interview with Golf Sustainable. The Czech golfer – along with Belgian Rebecca Becht and her Slovenian friend Inja Fric, one of three golfers on the team of the U.S. non-profit organization founded in 2020
– is committed as an EcoAthletes Champion in the USA to more sustainability in golf.
Similar to what Becht recently noted in an exclusive interview with Golf Sustainable, the University of Maryland biochemistry student sees a lot of potential in protecting the environment for this sport based in her current home on the East Coast of the United States. “Some golf courses are addressing the issue, but many don’t care about sustainability at all,” Mackova said.
“Established consumption is different”
Mackova, who once came to golf in her native Czech Republic in Prague through her grandfather, developed her environmental awareness in the sport particularly after changing her center of life following her move as a teenager from Europe to the United States. After high school, Mackova headed to Maryland, where she brought her childhood environmentalism with her overseas. “When I was growing up in Prague, my parents were interested in the environment, we studied environment and climate until high school. It just seemed like everyone cared about the environment in Europe,” Mackova recalls.
In her life in the United States, she experienced a real culture shock in this respect. “Life in the U.S. is different than in Europe, established consumption is different,” she says. Particularly when it comes to the topic of mobility, attitudes and basic positions collide head-on. “For example, a lot of people don’t want to buy a hybrid car, they’d rather buy a big truck.”
And what specifically does the golfer base her perception of an imbalance in the biological balance specifically in US golf on? “Definitely I see impacts here, you can see that just with the climate, which has changed a lot in the last few years, bringing impacts to the courts,” she says. In this context, she refers to different environmentally friendly fertilizers or chemicals that golf clubs use in course maintenance.
Dialog instead of announcements
In such cases, it is not easy for Mackova to react. Because she wants to discuss and have a dialogue with the people in charge or with teammates on her varsity golf team. She doesn ‘t want to come across as a teacher. “It’s not like I can tell them what to do,” she says. For this reason, it has devised its own strategy.
With larger crowds or full rooms at tournaments, she sometimes waits until the people in charge are ready in a one-on-one conversation without distracting listeners. Here, she occasionally finds her concerns heard. In such moments, she sometimes succeeds in convincing her interlocutors of her opinion. “I can then talk to the people, and they then understand my arguments,” the athlete explains.
“Nothing happens at events”
She identifies a lot of potential for improvement in terms of sustainability, especially at tournaments. When she compares golf tournaments in the U.S. with those on the Ladies European Tour, where she once competed, the clocks run very differently. Whereas at one event or another in Europe, for example, waste separation and recycling were almost a matter of course, she misses these aspects almost completely in the USA. “There’s nothing happening here at events, for example.”
With her commitment, she has already been able to convince one or the other person on her campus of her ideas of a more sustainable sport. Other initiatives are to follow. This includes continuing to make their case for sustainable golf at tournaments and events as an official EcoAthletes Champion. Against all odds, Mackova does not let go.