Get Out There

Golfing Stunt Shockingly Underscores Importance of Respecting Parks

We’ve spoken many times about respecting the national parks. They are natural treasures meant for everyone to enjoy. That means that we have to act as stewards of the land to ensure that the people around us and generations to come can have a great time and marvel at their beauty.

The National Park Service is very clear on the rules, and we always say that before venturing out, you should read through the guidelines to know what you can and can’t do. There are things you can’t bring, places you can’t go. Some areas allow dogs; others have restrictions. This year reservations are needed in some parks, and there are additional rules in place. Knowing these things before you go allows you to enjoy the parks without worrying about the rules once you go!

Recently, one person didn’t do enough reading before entering the parks. Jake Adams, an Instagram vlogger, decided to hit a golf ball in all 50 states. If you’re someone who likes to get outside, golf and enjoys a checklist,  it’s a neat idea. He documented his project on Instagram. But, he made the mistake of teeing off in Yellowstone.

In Yellowstone, he hit three golf balls. Now, he faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine for breaking the leave no trace policies. In an apology video, he claimed that they were biodegradable, and he thought it would be okay. He said he was sorry but also said he was planning on doing the same stunt in Europe. He shot golf balls in other national parks but is currently only under investigation for his behavior in Yellowstone.

Later, in an interview, he spoke again about the balls and admitted he “didn’t research the magnitude of any foreign substance in our national parks. The fact that it biodegrades doesn’t matter because it’s different from their natural ecosystem.”

As with most news stories, opinions are deeply divided. Some people feel Mr. Adams is facing far more dire consequences than his actions deserve. Others went so far as to comment on his posts with statements like “I hope you rot in jail,” and, “This is why no one likes golfers.”

Yellowstone released a statement about the situation. “The individual who recently was captured on video hitting golf balls in Yellowstone National Park showed a lack of judgment and common sense,” it said. “He violated regulations designed to preserve Yellowstone and protect the experience of other visitors. The National Park Service is investigating this illegal act.”

The fact is, three golf balls don’t make a difference to the park. However, copycats and people behaving similarly do add up. We can see both sides of the argument. Although we think those comments on his posts are a bit harsh! What we believe this situation highlights is the importance of reading the rules and using your noggin. Had Mr. Adams read the rules, he would have known not to golf in a national park. But, common sense also tells you that golfing in a national park is disrespectful to the land.

In the past, a man was fined $8,000 for trespassing in a thermal vent area in Yellowstone when he posted a video online. A woman was given 200 hours of community service and two years of probation for vandalism in seven national parks. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to Mr. Adams.

In the meantime, if you are going to go golfing, stick to the golf course. And, if you want to go hiking, walking, camping or have an incredible experience in the national parks, read the guidelines beforehand!  

Banner image: Kindel Media via Pexels

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