Episode available within Canada only.

After the death of his father, from the blood cancer Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, filmmaker Andrew Nisker starts hunting for answers to his many questions about why this particular cancer, and where it came from.  His search, to his surprise, takes him into the manicured world of golf. In this world of pearl white bunkers, and putting greens that look and feel like velvet, Andrew discovers that these “greenspaces” are anything but. There's a lot more than nature at work creating these perfect carpets. At a golf industry trade show he sees the array of chemicals on offer to achieve that championship perfection. To his surprise, he hears at the show that golfers have consistently shown resistance to caring about any health or environmental impacts of their sport.

golf ball next to a dandelionCan we live with a few weeds on the golf course?

Andrew's father’s had a passion for health and fitness. He loved to eat right, he took pride in sharing his knowledge about his healthy discoveries. But he rarely made the connection between environmental issues and personal health. To him, playing golf was a natural, healthy hobby. Walking the course with his bag on his back, taking in the sun, and breathing fresh air amongst the trees was his happy place.

Andrew's search reveals to him how little we know about the complex causes of cancers .He learns how it's nearly impossible to track down the cause of a single cancer like his father's. An epidemiologist explains to him the mapping studies, or epidemiological studies, which map patterns in causes of death and can be used to assess cancer risk. He meets up with  a campaigner from the grassroots movement against the use of lawn pesticides which started in Quebec.That movement led to the creation of the first provincial lawn pesticide ban in Canada. But, as usually happens,  golf courses are exempted from the ban.

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Director Andrew Nisker asks: Did exposure to pesticides on the golf course contribute to his father's cancer?

Andrew forms a bond with a sportscaster in Pittsburgh who is blaming golf course pesticides for the cancer death of his own father, a golf course superintendent. Then a visit to St Andrew's, Scotland takes him to the birthplace of golf, where he discovers that the game started out as something very rough and tumble, the course kept in shape by rabbits and grazing cattle, not chemicals. Is an organic golf course possible? There are approximately 34,000 golf courses around the world and very, very few don't use pesticides. In Martha's Vineyard, he finds  an organic golf course. It's organic because the community insisted on it. Their chosen weed killer?  White vinegar.

How to Avoid Possible Exposure to Pesticides While Playing Golf
Can We Learn to Live With A Few More Dandelions?
he Real 'Greening' of the Golf Course

As he follows up on his hunt to find out more about pesticide use on golf courses, Andrew asks can golfers themselves learn to kick the chemical habit? He's convinced that if golfers knew what goes into maintaining the artificial beauty they play on, they'd learn to love dandelions a little more.


Credits (Click to expand)

Producer, Director, Writer
Andrew Nisker

David Murray

Executive Producer
Frances-Mary Morrison

Director of Photography
Iain Robinson

Line Producer
Diana Warmé

Original Music By


Field Producer
Phil Prieur

Top Editor
Tony Coleman

Assistant Editor
Phil Prieur

Additional Camera Operator
Phil Prieur

Charlotte Odele

Chase Producer
Lina Cino

Music Supervisor
Michael A. Perlmutter

Location Sound Recordists
Pete Notarangelo
Gregg Cooper
Richie Giese
Brent Lloyd
Tobias Haynes
Pablo Villegas Hernandez
Mike Guilbault
Phil Prieur


For Technicolor:

Adam Raley  – Sound Designer M.P.S.E
Paolo Amati – Re-Recording Mixer
Scott Hitchon – Assistant Mix Engineer
Tom Murray – Assistant Mix Engineer

Jessica Lozano Castro – Audio Project Coordinator
Colourist – Mike Dobroski
Packaging Editor – Paul Deakin
Client Services Manager – Mark Olexiuk

Visual Effects & Animations
Smiley Guy Studios

Post-Production Supervisor
Phil Prieur

Post-Production Consultant
Jordan Schinkel

Storage & Processing
The Matrx

Media Composer Consultant
Adam Dodd

Visual Researchers
Gina Cali

Office PA
Maria Sartzetaki
Sefi Sloman

Ireland + Hall

Adrienne Smith
Christian Mccuaig
Doug Hamilton
Justin Morris
Mark Henderson
Mike Guilbault
Mitch McGoey
Sara Prieur
Sasha Hartmann

Legal Affairs
Iain MacKinnon

Production Accounting
Debbie Voth

Steven Friedman
Jimmy Ye

Judi Heron

Equipment Rentals
Endless Films
Good Dog Digital
LightHouse Films
DC Visionaries
Viewpoint Production Services Inc.
1552657 Ontario Ltd.

Stock Footage and Archival Material provided courtesy of
CBC Archive Sales/Archives Radio-Canada

Music courtesy of
Audio Network


Special Thanks To:
Lindsay Lorusso, Sebastian, Hunter, Apollo, and Pilot.
Lorna Warwick

Frank Rossi
J. Rhett Evans
Pete Bevacqua
Jean-Dominic Lévesque-René
Rich Walsh
Anthony D'Amico
Aaron Blair
Bob Dill
Dr. Richard van der Jagt
Hubert Barkley
Meg Sears
Jay Feldman
George Powell
David Joy
Gordon Moir
Jonathan Smith
Jeff Carlson



Produced with the participation of Rogers Documentary Fund (single card)


Produced by Ground War Productions Inc. 


for the CBC

general manager, programming
Sally Catto

executive director, unscripted content
Jennifer Dettman

senior director, documentary
Sandra Kleinfeld

executive in charge of production
Sue Dando

director of production, unscripted content
Alexandra Lane

director of finance, unscripted content
Julie Lawlor


The Nature of Things
with David Suzuki

produced by
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation



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