A Dangerous Game: Documentary Examines Environmental Impact of Luxury Golf Resorts

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©. A Dangerous Game

From the filmmaker who brought us the exposé You've Been Trumped comes a closer look at the eco-impact of golf courses that only serve a tiny fraction of wealthy players.

Donald Trump is a man we love to hate, and perhaps with good reason, at least if we have any sort of environmental leanings, and although we may laugh at his hysterics in the media, his disregard for the environmental impacts of his many business ventures is anything but a laughing matter.

Filmmaker and investigative journalist Anthony Baxter, the man behind You've Been Trumped, described as a "David and Goliath story for the 21st century," is back with yet another look at the issue, and this time with a bit wider of a focus (the Donald isn't the only developer of luxury golf courses on environmentally sensitive lands), in A Dangerous Game.

I don't play golf, and I have nothing against the game itself, yet the environmental impact of even a public golf course in a time of extreme drought (the average golf course is said to use more than 300,000 gallons of water a day) is a bit troubling to me. And while there are some initiatives in the works that could lessen the eco-impact of these highly unnatural developments (such as converting some of the turf areas back into natural habitat, or to use turf which is less water-intensive), the luxury golf courses which cater to the elite few who can afford them are decidedly not moving toward environmentally-benign design or management.

Modern golf is a far cry from the game originally played on the undeveloped and unmanicured lands of Scotland, where teams of turf managers and enormous reservoirs weren't required to keep the links looking immaculate and greener than everything else. And like most things that are taken to their extremes, the evolution of golf courses, especially the luxury golf courses that serve as playgrounds for the global elite, has wrought a world of hurt to the communities and environments where they are located.

A Dangerous Game looks at the destruction caused by building and maintaining luxury golf courses in areas as diverse as New Jersey, Dubai, Scotland, China, and Croatia (where a World Heritage protected site was green-lighted, even with the passage of a local referendum against it had an 84% majority), and asks some hard questions about the ethics and appropriateness of continuing to construct super-luxury resorts when they have such negative effects on the surrounding communities.

The film features interviews with Alec Baldwin, Robert Kennedy Jr., and yes, even Donald Trump himself, and offers a unique perspective on an industry and lifestyle that benefits so few and yet affects so many. And part of the issue, as pointed out in the documentary, is that we still don't have a truly functioning democracy in modern governments, even in the U.S., where we loudly trumpet the fact that we are a model for the world in terms of governance and civic engagement.

"Whenever you see large-scale environmental injury you will also see the subversion of democracy. The two things go hand in hand. They always do." - Robert Kennedy Jr. (in A Dangerous Game)

Here's the trailer for the film:

For more background on the film, there's an excellent interview with Anthony Baxter at Salon, where writer Lindsay Abrams wraps up her piece with this undeniably true gem:

"The bottom line is that these golf courses in the desert, that even Barack Obama was playing in Palm Springs over the weekend, just shouldn’t be built in the first place. They are completely unsustainable, they soak up billions of gallons of water, and the planet can’t afford them."