ASIAN GOLF INDUSTRY FEDERATION

Celebrating Climate Leadership in Golf

North Berwick, Scotland: For many years, public perception has been dominated by negative sentiments. But times have changed, practices evolved and adapted, and more and more parts of the golf industry are stepping forward towards sustainability and emerging as credible climate leaders.

Across the globe, golf clubs and facilities, associations and organisations, developments, tournaments and players are increasingly driving positive change.

With the COP 28 Climate Summit in Dubai having concluded, it’s a good time to spotlight some of these examples.

Green Shoots at the Grassroots

Literally thousands of golf courses around the world are stepping into climate action in a planned and concerted effort.

Many of these are already investing in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures, transitioning to electric maintenance equipment, encouraging green transport, changing mowing practices, reducing inputs and enhancing natural sequestration.

Solar panels on maintenance sheds, clubhouses and even car parks are becoming common, such as at Golfplatz Heidental in Switzerland.

EV charging points encourage greener transport, as seen at St Laurence Golf in Finland, while simpler provisions could be a combination of lockers for clubs and bike parks.

A change in mowing patterns, highlighted by Anderstein in the Netherlands, can save time and fuel.

From the smallest nine-hole rural facilities such as Kingarrock Hickory Golf in Scotland to large resorts such as Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore to management groups like BGL, climate action is proving to be relevant and deliverable across the full spectrum of bio geographies, course types and sizes of facility.

And clubs are being supported by their suppliers. For example, The Toro Company, who released their 2022 Sustainability Report in the summer, are among those driving change in maintenance practices. Suppliers of equipment and apparel, such as Galvin Green, are strengthening their commitments and innovating in this space.

Federations to the Fore

Federations and associations are increasingly accelerating action, adopting new sustainability strategies and embracing sustainable golf. The Dutch Golf Federation has been at the forefront of national commitments, actions and results in terms of facility engagement, support, recognition and tracking the sector’s progress using a comprehensive bank of Sustainable Golf Indicators, including carbon.

Other countries where national associations are also pushing the agenda in recent years include; Switzerland, Sweden, Scotland, Belgium, England, Finland, Singapore, Wales, Italy, Iceland, France, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, China and Ireland. 

Many of these associations have appointed dedicated sustainability managers and club support staff.

Just this month in Canada, the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada (NGCOA Canada) and the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) announced an important new programme which will extend further support and recognition to facilities for sustainability and climate action, building on the work of Golf Canada in tournaments.

The R&A and the USGA, the two governing bodies of the game, continue to drive sustainably through research and sustainable agronomy such as through Golf Course 2030 project. 

Spotlight on the Biggest Stages

Professional Tours and tournaments are raising the bar and using their platforms to influence and inspire. The European Tour group Green Drive strategy included becoming a signatory to the UN Sport for Climate Action framework and a commitment to 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2040.

The PGA Tour has launched its sustainability vision while the LPGA and Ladies European Tour highlight the great work across their communities through the Celebrating the Green supported by Dow initiatives.

Tournaments, from The Open and Ryder Cup, WM Phoenix Open to the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and many more demonstrate how golf events provide a platform to influence and inspire.

Across the Rolex Series, including the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, events have adopted a comprehensive and consistent strategy to measure, reduce and counter-balance un-avoided emissions, and communicate carefully. 

Other events leaning hard into this include the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the Omega European Masters, Volvo Car Scandinavia Mixed, and RBC Canadian Open and CPKC Canadian Women’s Open, FREED Group Women’s Scottish Open, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and many more.

Leading Lights

Individual players are also stepping forward. Solheim Cup Captain Suzann Pettersen, a Sustainable Golf Champion alongside others such as Maria Fassi, Catherine Kirk and Camille Chevalier are among pioneering players to express their care and concern, investing in accredited carbon reduction projects, and using their platforms in raising awareness and driving positive change.

Charting a Course for the Future

Renowned architects including Lobb & Partners, Faldo Design, EGD are leading the charge among golf designers, not only seeking to build and renovate courses with a focus on enhancing bio-diversity and the local environment, but also by taking responsibility for their own carbon footprint by looking at ways to minimise travel and also investing in climate projects to counter-balance unavoidable travel emissions for their companies. 

All of this is in line with the Driving Net Zero pledge made last year in Iceland by the three largest societies – European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA), the American Society for Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA).

Driving Golf Further

These are just a few examples highlighting golf’s journey towards credible climate leadership with many more found at sustainable.golf/highlights.

By embracing sustainability, increasing sequestration, driving innovation with renewable energy, advocating climate action and leveraging influence, the golf industry can play a key role in helping minimise the worst impacts of climate change and shaping a better future for people and the planet.

*This is the part three of a series presented by Golf Business News in collaboration with the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf that explores golf and climate action, shining a spotlight on examples from across the industry that are driving positive change.

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