By Len Ramirez

MONTEREY (KPIX 5) — Pebble Beach is one of the most beautiful places in America, among the most spectacular places to play golf anywhere.

But just off the manicured fairways and beneath the waters of the Monterey Bay, golf balls by the handful litter the ocean floor.

“These are the broken down golf balls.  As you can see, the plastic chips off and becomes micro plastic and this is what the fish eat,” Carmel High School Student Alex Weber said.

Weber and Jack Johnston discovered hundreds, if not thousands of lost, broken and unraveling golf balls while recreational free diving.

“Last May, Jack and I got together and decided this was a huge environmental problem and we needed to change it,” Weber said.

They went back for another dive, this time with underwater cameras.

The video shows pile upon pile of golf balls hidden among the kelp beds and sharp rocks.

Errant shots hit into the water by generations of Pebble Beach golfers – forgotten – until now.

“When we started, I was expecting a couple of golf balls here and there, but when we went down there, the whole seafloor is covered with golf balls.  It’s like getting punched in the gut.  There’s so much beauty and it’s just getting ruined by all these golf balls,” Jonhston said.

“It was surprising, since no one before these two intrepid teenagers had brought that to our attention before,” Mark Stilwell with the Pebble Beach Company said.

The video posted on YouTube got the attention of the company, which owns the golf links and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary – charged with protecting the sensitive habitat.

“We’re going to assess just how serious the situation is, and work together with folks to clean it up,” Paul Michel of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary said.

The two teens have already jumpstarted the cleanup on their own, and they started a Go Fund Me page to pay for it, and help with their tuition to study marine biology.

It’s believed to be the first underwater cleanup of golf balls here in the 97-year history of the links.

Comments (7)
  1. My pleasure to being here on your blog.I wanna come back here for new post from your site.

    Conference options near delhi @

  2. Meghan L says:

    The golf courses where I grew up had ponds & lagoons, & when we were kids we went diving for golf balls. The pro shop would pay us like 50c each for them & resell them as “water balls.”

  3. Thomas Wilson says:

    I am a golfer and totally and utterly support any effort to avoid such environmental disasters but this needs to be looked at on a much larger and wider scale as this happens in many places and not just at Pebble Beach. I encourage all journalists who will develop and expand this story further. Many golfers hit and lose balls without thinking of the damage it causes. This is very wrong. All golfers have a responsibility to avoid polluting the environment. The materials that golf balls are made of are terrible pollutants if left to decay. First of all every single golf club in the world should have the duty and responsibility to clean up golf balls and in the US many clubs with lakes do have a policy of collecting “lake balls” and then selling them. This is a very intelligent policy and I wish that such a practise was widespread around the world. Secondly every single golf ball sold should have an environmental charge which is then distributed to clean up companies. Here the manufacturers of golf balls must take the lead and show the example and golfers must also support the clean up effort. We all have a duty to ensure that we do not litter and destroy our environment for the generations to come. Thomas Wilson Switzerland

  4. Pebble Beach Company spokesman said they would consider sponsoring a clean-up activity. I hope it’s more than a couple of hot dogs and a tee-shirt which is what the Chicago Yacht Club has “sponsored”! “Free” tank refills would go a long way to help cut the volunteer divers’ costs.

  5. Ah shucks! the golfers who pollute the ocean with their golf balls weren’t aware they were polluting. Just like the guys who do trap shooting at the beach aren’t aware that they are polluting. Sure! Maybe it’s because they just didn’t care until they got busted. May I remind you that the 1% mentality on the course are usually quick to make fun of environmentalists. The reality is that Golf Courses are an environmental nuisance every step of the way. They should all be heavily taxed on their pollution and excess water use instead of being given special tax breaks and special exemptions. And they really should be turned into public parks for the 99% instead of special playgrounds for the 1%.