Environmental Golf Course Management: A Global Issue

Wildflower rough on a golf course

Environmental and sustainability issues have become the focus of the international golf course community in recent years. As is often the case with such wide sweeping movements, there are those who are proactive and seek to incorporate measures to enhance the sustainability and environmental performance of their golf course operations, whilst others gradually become forced into reviewing best practice and environmental management through the tightening of legislation and increased constraints of governance.

For those who are proactive, the Golf Environmental Organisation (GEO) is a progressive and forward thinking non-profit organisation that actively promotes and supports the work of golf courses to develop greater sustainability and review their environmental responsibilities.

Some of the most notable golf courses currently on a GEO certification programme include:

  • The Old Course - St. Andrews               (UK)
  • Machrihanish Dunes                               (UK)
  • Loch Lomond Golf Club                          (UK)
  • Celtic Manor - Twenty-ten course          (UK)
  • Golf du Touquet                                         (Fr)
  • Emirates Golf Club                                   (UAE)
  • The Venice Golf & Country Club             (USA)

 "Every applicant for the GEO Certified™. ecolabel is visited by an accredited verifier from the global network of GEO sustainability Associates (GEOSA). This group of independent experts are all trained on GEO programmes, providing clubs with a constructive, tailored plan for continual improvement as part of their on-site evaluation". GEO - Website, 2011.

The aim of the organisation is to provide web-based support systems that enable anybody, anywhere in the world to access relevant templates, forms, information and support in order to effectively establish and maintain an holistic environmental strategy pertaining to the care of their specific golf course. Through the international network of verified experts, the advice and support offered to golf courses is geographically specific and in accordance with local governance and legislation.

Through our association with the GEO and its staff that coordinate the certification programme, SSDM is able to work in conjunction with GEO and offer New Zealand golf courses the services and support required to work towards an international standard of certification. The GEO website is well worth visiting and there are numerous downloads available.

Recently the GEO was responsible for ensuring the 2010 Ryder Cup ran with an overall carbon footprint reduction of 31%, against the standard business model (GEO - Website, A review of the 2010 Ryder Cup: Green Drive, 2010). This figure represents a significant commitment by the PGA, European Tour, Ryder Cup and Celtic Manor administrations to raise the profile of environmental stewardship and sustainability within the global golfing sector and in so doing shape the nature of event management.

The golf course landscape is changing, but players still demand value at a time when austerity is key to the survival of many golf clubs. A proactive approach to environmental issues ensures that your course is reviewing its efficiency, sustainability and taking responsibility for its impact upon the local environment and surrounding community. The nett gain of such an approach will inherently result in your golf course operating to its maximum efficiency, whilst reducing any adverse impacts on the environment.

Recommended website link: www.golfenvironment.org


Golf Course Reedbed Conservation Area Pyramidal Orchid: Golf Course Rough