The Golf Environment Organization’s GEO Legacy Guidance for Sustainable Golf Development has been launched to widespread acclaim following previews at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit in Bangkok and the European Golf Course Owners Association Conference in London.
Written in partnership with international sustainability experts, GEO’s pragmatic and visionary guidance reconciles the aspirations of golf investors and developers with the needs of communities, the environment and regulators.
The launch followed 18 months of research and writing, concluding with a consultation process involving thirty of the world’s leading golf course architects, including representatives of the European, American, Australian and Japanese institutes.
The guidance is freely accessible now at www.golfenvironment.org/development, with print versions and selected translations, in association with GEO partners, becoming available in 2011.
Peter Dawson, R&A Chief Executive, is delighted that the GEO Legacy Guidance is now freely available to support the sustainable growth of golf: “These guidelines are extremely important to golf’s future growth and reputation, setting out as they do a means for all new golf facilities to be valued as social, economic and environmental assets.
“The sector has been criticised in the past – often unfairly, but often quite rightly for some of the impacts that have been generated in the name of golf. There is no doubt that golf will be better understood and more widely valued as a result of the production and delivery of this groundbreaking work.
“All of this is particularly important in light of the renewed profile that golf’s return to the Olympics will stimulate, and I am sure the guidance will support all parties involved in ensuring the Rio 2016 Olympic golf venue meets the highest sustainability standards.
“I’d like to congratulate GEO for the way it has pulled together a wealth of technical material, and presented it in such an objective and positive way.”
Antony Scanlon, newly appointed Chief Executive of the International Golf Federation, supports the position: “We greatly appreciate the work GEO and the other partners have undertaken. As we liaise closely with the IOC and Rio 2016 Olympic Games Organising Committee on the specifications for the Olympic venue these guidelines will drive new standards for the way golf courses will be built in the future—anchored in a sustainable vision. There’s a wealth of constructive material that can be integrated into the planning, design, construction and longer term legacy of the golf venue – all of which will be visible to a huge global audience.”
GEO Chief Executive Jonathan Smith was quick to highlight his satisfaction at the project outcomes to date: “This was one of the toughest challenges GEO has faced in our first five years. Attempting to connect a modern and progressive sustainability agenda with the complexities of the golf development process was never going to be straightforward.
“But we wanted to take it on, because we knew that we could produce a suite of guidelines that would help all stakeholders understand the challenges and opportunities that come with golf development; that would help golf development teams leave long lasting social and environmental legacies from each and every new project; and which would help to inform governments and communities about what golf is capable off, and how they can help to ensure that project’s fulfill their sustainability potential.
“By connecting the big sustainability picture to practical, on the ground decision making checklists, we think we have successfully captured the why and how of sustainable golf development. This guidance adds to ongoing industry efforts, helping to equip developers and regulators with the knowledge to ensure that all golf development brings net gains for both people and planet.
“Our sincere gratitude is due to the partners and supporters of this project. Without the vision, funding and belief of The R&A, The European Tour, The European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA), The European Golf Course Owners Association (EGCOA), and corporate sponsor Ransomes Jacobsen, this important piece of work would not have been possible.”
The guidance launch comes on the back of GEO’s involvement at the UNEP Global Forum for Sport and Environment in Nairobi, where Satinder Bindra, Director of Communications and Public Information confirmed UNEP support: “Golf is uniquely positioned – as a popular sport, lifestyle and a $300 billion global business – to bring significant environmental gains and awareness to millions of people around the world.
“By launching the Global Guidance for Sustainable Golf Development in the run up to the 2016 Olympics, GEO is providing the industry with a credible resource for sustainable golf as well as an opportunity to play a proactive role in greening the sport, from the production and supply chains to the green courses. In this context, it is vital to ensure that products and services do not come with a hidden environmental cost and that golf courses are planned and managed in a manner that supports environmental quality. This is exactly what GEO aims to achieve. We support the initiative and look forward to witnessing the fruition of these efforts.”
Annika Sorenstam, the most successful female golfer in the history of the professional game, joined the launch party in Bangkok, at the unveiling of the guidelines: “Although my golf design career has been relatively short, I’m fortunate to work alongside a highly experienced team. As we approach a new design or redesign we look to capture the natural character of the landscape. It’s very important to preserve the environment, spirit, and traditions of the game.
“I wholeheartedly commend GEO for their efforts and encourage golf development teams to spend time familiarizing themselves with this work.”
Timo Makela, Director of International Affairs of the Environmental Directorate General of the European Commission: “The European Commission recognises the role golf facilities play in rural areas, towns and cities across Europe. Golf generates local employment, can provide a focus for healthy, active lifestyles and can enhance greenspaces.
“However, in recent years the European Parliament has raised its concerns on a number of large-scale golf developments which have posed challenges to protected sites, to water resources and to local communities.
“Hence, it is important that all those involved in this diverse industry do as much as they can to embrace greener solutions, to save natural resources and to enrich the ecosystems, also for golf itself. The European Commission supported the early establishment of the Golf Environment Organization and we commend them, and their many partners in golf, for the sustainability leadership that is now emerging. This is demonstrated in these excellent guidelines offering a roadmap for golf to become even more environmentally sustainable.”
Speaking on behalf of the European, American, Australian and Japanese golf architecture institutes, EIGCA President David Krause added: “This project should complement the decades of environmental research, planning and education that golf architect bodies have undertaken around the world.
“Our profession is committed to designing stunning, memorable golf courses that have a positive impact on environmental quality and local people. We know that resource efficient and ecologically rich courses are good for golfers; and good for the profitability of investors and operators.
“The GEO Legacy Guidelines support our efforts to build people and planet friendly golf courses, and the world’s leading golf architecture associations are proud to have played a role in the production of these guidelines.
GEO is an international non-profit dedicated to supporting golf’s corporate responsibility and environmental action. GEO partners with governments, international environmental NGOs, scientists and corporate and individual sponsors including The European Tour, The R&A, The European Golf Association, UNEP, WWF, EGCOA, and the Club Managers Associations of Europe, America and China.
GEO Certified™ is the most accessible, credible and comprehensive sustainability certification in golf, with a productive and streamlined core content that enables golf clubs to plan, implement, record and gain recognition for continual business improvement.