Golf clubs around the world were recognised for their ongoing commitment to fostering nature, conserving resources, taking climate action and strengthening communities at the 8th IAGTO Sustainability Awards, which were held online last night and delivered in partnership with the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf.
The global awards are open to IAGTO members who are part of the GEO Foundation’s OnCourse network – an entirely free programme used by golf facilities in 76 countries. The awards received an extraordinary response, with more than 50 applications from five continents – each facility telling a unique story about sustainability in and through golf.
The 2021 Awards introduced the Climate Award for the first time – recognizing a facility that has made a strategic commitment to taking climate action, with practical steps to reduce emissions and manage their landscape to maximize carbon sequestration.
The winners of this year’s awards were as follows:
Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability: Minthis Golf Club, Cyprus
In 2019, Minthis Golf Club was the recipient of the Sustainability Award for Resource Efficiency. Since this time, the club has built upon its GEO Certification with an array of sustainable practices. Native planting and notable habitat areas combine with simple and strategic turfgrass management to ensure the course is a unique golfing environment and valuable natural landscape. A focus on water efficiency and sustainable sourcing complements an emphasis on energy efficiency in the clubhouse and on the course. The combined sustainability efforts are also helping the facility to take real climate action, with a reduction in emissions of 20% over four years as measured by its Sustainability Scorecard from GEO Foundation.
Nature Protection Award: Royal Wellington Golf Club, New Zealand
Celebrating its most recent GEO Certification in 2020, Royal Wellington has made a commitment to the management of a unique landscape for several years.A wide variety of valuable habitats – from grassland to wetlands and woodlands – are home to notable flora species supported by an onsite nursery. The club is also home to 64 beehives supporting a critical species. Approaching the conclusion of a five-year plan to increase naturalized areas has boosted environmental habitat areas by approximately 25% across the site.
Resource Efficiency Award: Quinta do Lago, Portugal
Working towards GEO Certified, Quinta do Lago has made significant strides in resource management across materials, water and energy. A reduction in the area of maintained turf, investment in an upgraded irrigation system and its use of recycled water combine to maximize efficiency. Quinta do Lago has also invested in a fully electric fleet of golf carts and hybrid golf course maintenance equipment and worked with local government to trial and develop renewable energy solutions.
Sean Moriarty, chief executive of Quinta do Lago, said: “The subject of sustainability in golf has never been more important, and to be recognised for the work that the resort is doing towards this is a great honour and very satisfying. We have always been a resort driven by nature with an environmental focus and have a long-term commitment to being a high-profile champion of sustainability. As a resort, we are united in our approach to supporting nature and our communities – conserving resources at the same time – and the great thing about golf is that it can be a leader in so many ways; from eco-system services, conservation of wildlife and health and well-being for all ages to creating jobs and adding value to the economy through local supply chains.”
Community Value Award: Gleneagles, Scotland
Since 2013, Gleneagles has shown sustainability leadership both as a facility and venue to major golf events. Some examples include rewarding healthcare workers by donating free hotel stays and partnering with local and national charities to raise much-needed funds. Working with local businesses means a more environmentally-friendly supply chain. The appointment of a role dedicated to sustainability within the golf estate in 2021 demonstrates the long-term ongoing commitment.
Climate Action Award: Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland
GEO Certified on three occasions in 2013, 2016 and 2019 – and preparing for a fourth – Carnoustie Golf Links has made sustainability an integral part of its vision for many years. Links Superintendent Craig Boath is an inaugural GEO Sustainable Golf Champion for his leadership in this area.Increased areas of natural habitat, reduced mowing of turfgrass, a course maintenance fleet that includes electric and hybrid equipment are just some of Carnoustie’s Sustainable Golf Highlights. Part of Carnoustie’s commitment to climate action includes utilizing GEO Foundation’s Sustainability Scorecard to measure the facility’s carbon balance – which has shown a 26% decrease in emissions since 2018.
Michael Wells, Chief Executive of Carnoustie Golf Links said: “Being awarded the Climate Action Award means a great deal to us. As an organisation, we are, and have for some time, been very conscious of our environmental impact on the planet. Being sustainable is one of our core values and we encourage every one of our team to make decisions with that value in mind. We have invested in more sustainable practices both on and off the course, and we are on a continued journey of improvement. Our Links Superintendent, Craig Boath, is an inaugural GEO Sustainable Golf Champion for his leadership in this area, and he has been instrumental in helping us on this journey. As a company, we are known for leading the way within the sport and our sustainable practices are another example of how we intend to influence and drive change. To be the first organisation to win this award is real honour and privilege.”
John Kemp, the GEO Foundation’s Education and Support manager, said: “Congratulations to each of the winners of this year’s IAGTO Sustainability Awards, and to all those who put themselves forward for consideration. Each of the winners has shared fantastic examples of their environmental, social, resource and climate leadership, and demonstrated how golf facilities and golf tourism have a significant benefit for communities, landscapes and the planet.
“It’s been a pleasure to again work with IAGTO to recognise sustainability leadership amongst its membership. GEO Foundation is proud to support those working in golf facilities around the world through OnCourse – golf’s sustainability programme – and the global recognition, GEO Certified.”
Peter Walton, Chief Executive of IAGTO, was impressed with the high standard of this year’s entrants. He said: “While the golf tourism industry was focused on coping with and recovering from pandemic-related travel restrictions, it was great to see so many golf courses take this time to review their sustainability programs, and in many cases take them to another level. This year, more than ever, I’ve been blown away by the ingenuity and real dedication that so many golf courses continue demonstrate.”