A staple in the diary of thousands of European greenkeepers this week the annual BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) returned to Harrogate International Centre (19th – 21st January). Along with an impressive programme of educational activities, suppliers and networking opportunities, visitors to BTME enjoyed talking sustainable golf at GEO (Golf Environment Organization) and FEGGA’s (The Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Association) exhibition stand.
Joined by partners and friends from across the industry, including BIGGA’s new Sustainability Executive, James Hutchinson, GEO and FEGGA have been talking with clubs about how to gain recognition and enhance their work in sustainable golf. With live sign-ups to OnCourse®, golf’s sustainability programme, visitors to the GEO and FEGGA stand have been showing their clubs ongoing commitment to the environment and their local communities.
Patrick Walker, Industry Engagement Manager at GEO and PGA Professional said “it’s been a fantastic day. We’ve had a great time catching up with old friends, as well as making new ones. Our Sustainable Golf map of the UK and Ireland has been filling up all day as more and more clubs join OnCourse®. We’re delighted to see so many clubs taking advantage of this great tool to not only enhance their clubs sustainable operations but also to gain recognition for the work they’re already doing. Sustainability and golf really are a natural fit, we just need to look to the origins of the game to see that. Apart from this, we know that Greenkeepers are great stewards of the land so it’s great to have the opportunity to discuss and listen to what everyone is up to as well as how we can support them further. We’ll be here until Thursday and welcome anyone that’s at the exhibition to visit us, join OnCourse® and add your club to the Sustainable Golf map.”
OnCourse®, a free web-based tool available to all golf facilities worldwide, is funded and developed by the golf industry itself. It provides practical tools, guidance and real word examples to support clubs with their individual sustainability goals. Working through the OnCourse® programme can also lead to clubs becoming GEO Certified®, golf’s global sustainability standard. Along with other coveted sustainability standards such as Fairtrade and The Rainforest Alliance GEO Certified® is part of the highly regarding ISEAL Alliance membership body. Becoming GEO Certified® allows a club to credibly and transparently show a continuing commitment to nature, resources and community.
“Sustainable golf is very much a partnership effort with the industry coming together for a common goal,” Walker explains. “We’re delighted to be here with our close partners FEGGA representing sustainable golf this week and we’re also thrilled to be joined by James in his new role at BIGGA. We’re looking forward to working very closely with James moving forward.”
James Hutchinson, the former Environmental Officer at St Andrews Links Trust, joined the newly created role of Sustainability Executive with BIGGA at the start of 2016. “I’m very happy to be here with GEO and FEGGA today and have been really enjoying talking to clubs about the inspiring work which is already going on within the industry and the potential for golf to do even more for the environment, our communities and our sport,” Hutchinson said. “In my new role I look forward to working closely with GEO and many other industry bodies to promote these examples of good sustainability practice among the BIGGA membership as well as support an increased focus on sustainability within BIGGA’s Learning & Development activity. 2016 is a very exciting year for our sport with golfs return to the Olympics and with the fantastic reception OnCourse® and Sustainable golf have had here at BTME I know its going to be a very exciting year for sustainability within golf too.”
For more information about sustainable golf and the OnCourse® programme visit www.golfenvironment.org