North Berwick, Scotland: As a significant milestone in the advancement of sustainability in and through the sport of golf, the associations of Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland, South Africa, Netherlands, Flanders, Scotland, England, Italy, Iceland and South Africa have stepped forward to set new leadership targets … and provide further support to grass-roots clubs.
Partnering with GEO Foundation, the international non-profit dedicated to golf and sustainability, the move follows years of collaborative development of OnCourse – an on-line programme for sustainable golf course and club management.
OnCourse makes it easier for golf facilities to implement, track and communicate their actions for nature, resources and community, while at the same time gathering key data and stories which enable greater knowledge share and promotion of the progress and value of the sport.
A major part of OnCourse is devoted to ‘sustainable materials’, with explicit guidance and resources to help facilities achieve zero waste to landfill, and to minimise/eliminate the use of petroleum based and single use plastics.
Jonathan Smith of GEO Foundation said: “Finding ways to live, work and play sustainability is society’s greatest challenge, and it requires a combination of teamwork and individual leadership. This group of golfing nations are demonstrating both – pulling together on robust and common solutions, while also setting out strengthened leadership to support grass roots action.
“We’d like to thank them and the many other associations and pioneering facilities that have helped shape and move this forward, including Strategic Partners The R&A, Vidauban Foundation, European Tour, International Golf Federation, Toro and Textron Golf.”
Jochem Verberne, Director Global Partnerships of WWF International, said: “We are pleased to see innovative voluntary sustainability systems emerging across sport – to a large extent being led by the example of golf. By using the standards, technology and certification tools that have been developed, golf will be able to generate significant measurable outcomes for people and the environment – that will show how the sport’s often perceived negative impacts can be turned into clear ‘net positive’ value.
“We applaud GEO, the Strategic Partners and countries listed here, and encourage others in golf to get involved and take advantage of this platform, which will be increasingly important to the sport’s long-term viability.”
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, added: “It is important that issues of sustainability are being widely considered throughout the golf industry and that they are addressed in order to safeguard the environments and communities in which the sport is played. We are strong advocates of technology which enables golf facilities to adopt and track the use of sustainable management practices and we are pleased that a number of our affiliates are encouraging member clubs to integrate the OnCourse sustainability platform as part of their daily operations.”
Julie Duffus, International Olympic Committee Sustainability Manager, said: “This is a significant initiative by some of the leading golf associations, and dovetails perfectly with our own sustainability activities, and World Environment Day efforts to ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. This is such a huge and globally important challenge that needs proactive leadership from across the sport community, so it’s great to see an Olympic sport like golf step up in such a co-ordinated and credible way.”
Antony Scanlon, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation, added: “This is a significant milestone in golf’s efforts to be a leader in sustainable sport, which is great credit to all the people and organisations that are helping to make that happen.”