Earlier this month, the group of organisations and individuals involved in producing a ground-breaking new suite of Sustainability Guidelines for Golf Developments met at the HQ of Ransomes Jacobsen – the exclusive corporate sponsor of the project.
The project is the brain-child of the Golf Environment Organisation, delivered in partnership with The R&A, the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, the European Golf Course Owners Association and the European Tour.
The guidance, which aims to set out a new and more sustainable model for golf facility planning, design and construction, is now mid way though completion, with all major chapters of the guidance drafted by the team of technical experts.
The collation and editing of content is being overseen by Mike Wood, one of the most experienced environmental scientists in golf.
The authors are a range of international specialists, covering the priority environmental issues of the modern day. They are:
• Energy – global energy company Ecofys;
• Ecosystems and ecology – highly regarded Irish ecologist Conor Kretsch;
• Water and turf – renowned Italian agronomist Dr Paolo Croce;
• Land use planning – former UK government wildlife agency chief scientist Dr Keith Duff;
• Landscape and cultural heritage – a leading light in this subject, Professor Ole Romer Sandberg;
Representing the EIGCA, and ensuring that the whole project is bedded into the real world practicalities of golf development, is the environmentally experienced golf architect Jeremy Pern.
Speaking on behalf of the Golf Environment Organisation, CEO Jonathan Smith explains, “We are already starting to see the guidance take shape. The contributions from technical consultants are drilling down to key issues and presenting both common sense and innovative ideas. We believe that developers and architects who integrate this guidance into their projects will be able to realise golf developments that are appropriate for their context, resource efficient, ecologically rich, stunning golf landscapes. They will ultimately produce facilities that will be highly regarded as social, economic and environmental assets, with courses that people will want to come back and play time and time again.
“We are very grateful to all the project partners for their invaluable support, and in particular to Ransomes Jacobsen, who continue to lead by example in their own ISO 14001 accredited operations, through their R&D, and also by investing in far wider education and awareness raising projects. They are establishing a reputation for combining leadership in their own environmental actions, with genuine interest in the industries long-term future.”
Ransomes Jacobsen MD, David Withers added, “Ransomes Jacobsen is delighted to be at the heart of this project, and to host this expert group at our international headquarters. It is great to see the guidance taking shape, and the timing is very pertinent. With real financial pressure on golf development these guidelines offer some fantastic new ideas on ways to improve the security and return on investment, reduce long-term operational costs and, crucially, increase asset value.”
Steve Isaac, Director – Golf Course Management at The R&A, presented the governing bodies’ perspective, “We keenly anticipate the release of a first draft of text. We believe this guidance is very much needed, and that the principles and processes embedded represent the way forward for golf development. It is particularly important to us that the guidance helps to stimulate a mixed provision of golf around the world – helping to realise the great diversity of golf – all of which can deliver different forms of social, economic and environmental value.”
The specialists now return to the drafting board to refine their guidance, which will then begin the editing process as it is shaped towards a final draft, which is anticipated to be ready for consultation in September. Regional launch events are being planned for key regions across Europe early in 2010.
Golf Environment Organisation www.golfenvironment.org