Foshan, China: The 2019 Foshan Open has become the first GEO Certified Tournament in the Asia Pacific region. The award is an internationally recognised certification for sustainability in golf, administered by Scotland-based GEO Foundation (GEO).
Foshan Golf Club, in China’s Guangdong Province, has hosted the tournament annually since the first edition in 2013. Since then, the club has been working to incorporate sustainability across its operations, during tournament week and throughout the rest of the year.
Building on its GEO Certified Facility status, which Foshan Golf Club first gained in 2013, the certification award for the 2019 Foshan Open strengthens the club’s credible and inspirational leadership in sustainable golf in China and the wider region.
Having successfully achieved GEO Certified status, the tournament organisers are not resting on their laurels, but are looking for ways to improve on a year-by-year basis – driven by a vision of the Foshan Open as not just a golf tournament, but a celebration of sustainability and healthy living.
Julian Small, General Manager, Foshan Golf Club, said: “Foshan Golf Club has been focusing on sustainability for a number of years. It has been working closely with GEO Foundation and has achieved GEO Certification since 2013. We are delighted that in 2019 the Foshan Open became the first tournament in the Asia Pacific region to achieve GEO Tournament Certification.
“The Foshan Open has been inspired by innovation and creativity and with the excellent support of the numerous Foshan and Guangdong Government bureaus, the China Golf Association, the European Challenge Tour, our presenting sponsor and owner New World China and numerous supporting partners and sponsors.
“Over the past seven years we have developed not just a professional golf tournament, but an international festival aimed to educate and encourage people to embrace a healthy sustainable lifestyle.
“For us, achieving accreditation is just another step on our sustainability journey. We are now looking at how we can build on this platform, engage with and energise all the various stakeholders involved to identify and deliver further sustainable benefits for our community and hopefully inspire other tournaments and golf clubs in our region to embrace the nature, resources, climate and community principles of GEO Foundation to deliver a better life for future generations.”
Sustainability initiatives at the Foshan Open addressed six key categories: planning and communication, site protection, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy. Some of the highlights from the tournament include:
- Through the Golf Experience Zone, school tours, the Friday Night at the club’s Driving Range event, and Ladies Day, thousands of visitors, including many children, enjoyed a fun and engaging golfing experience
- Chinese and European golfers faced off in the 9+2 Greater Bay Region Challenge to raise money for charities, including the local Red Cross Hospital School
- The Foshan Open promoted and advocated sustainability across multiple platforms and during a sustainability-themed Cultural and Industry Symposium
- Alternative transport was made widely available and encouraged, such as shuttle buses, bicycles, and electric golf carts
- Degradable, recyclable and reusable materials were used wherever possible and a QR-code system eliminated the need for paper tickets, leaflets and programmes.
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director, GEO Foundation, said: “We have been working closely with Foshan Golf Club for several years now and it is wonderful to see the leadership they have shown in sustainability and golf in the Asia Pacific region. The commitment and hard work that we have witnessed to make the Foshan Open an event that protects the environment and benefits the local community have been highly commendable and it’s exciting to think what the event can achieve in the future.”
To achieve GEO certification, the organisers completed a robust, custom-built programme for golf tournaments that includes document and evidence submission, a third-party verification, a thorough review by GEO, and agreement to Continual Improvement Points for future tournaments.