London, England: As a leading example of sustainability in sport and golf’s strengthening voluntary responsibility for nature, resources and communities, the game’s leading administrative bodies have launched a pioneering initiative that will help ensure the sport of golf delivers the greatest combined economic, social and environmental value in the years ahead.
The economic value of the golf industry in Europe is estimated at €18.1 billion*, and the sport provides jobs and healthy, lifelong outdoor recreation for millions of people.
The 6,800 golf courses in Europe are set in half a million hectares of carefully stewarded green space, with up to 60% of this left in its natural state. More than 97% of these courses are available to the public and used by a growing number of families.
Richard Heath, General Secretary of the European Golf Association (EGA), said: “Golf already contributes so much to society and for governments – from health and well-being, life skills and jobs for local communities; to the conservation and enhancement of nature and green space; and as a hub for innovation in the efficient use of natural resources.
“Through this initiative we want to help the game gain recognition for that contribution, while helping it deliver even more, and we are very excited about the part it can play in helping to strengthen the sport in Europe.”
The move is welcomed from both within and outside the industry, including by Richard Holland, Director of WWF’s Market Transformation Initiative.
He said: “As a multi-billion euro industry it is timely that European golf is taking serious steps to address its impacts. This initiative which aims to create positive benefits for nature and local communities, using credible standards that are embodied in the GEO Certified label, should be welcomed.”
EGA President Colin Wood added: “This is the outcome of much positive collaboration amongst member Federations, The R&A and other industry associations. It demonstrates how the industry can come together to align our approach to sustainability for the greater good of the game, society and the environment. We look forward to working with many of our partners in golf and with GEO in this endeavour.”
Facilitated by the EGA and delivered in close partnership with GEO (the Golf Environment Organisation), the initiative focuses on working with national federations to help grass roots clubs across Europe embrace community integration, resource efficiency and nature conservation and enhancement.
Clubs are provided with a free, multi-lingual on-line planning and recording tool, which also acts as a pathway to golf’s ISEAL based ecolabel.
Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO said: “It’s tremendous to see golf’s Federations coming together to commit and collaborate in this way, in such close alignment with governing bodies and other industry stakeholders. It shows that despite obvious cultural, legislative and climatic differences, there is a way for the sector to pull in a common direction to make an even bigger positive impact in the future.”
Support and direction for the initiative is provided by a dedicated Sustainability Working Group (the EGA Sustainable Golf Committee) that brings together a wide representation of National Federations, representatives from many other parts of the industry and leading sustainable golf expertise.
*Source: Sports Marketing Surveys