Global Edition

Sustainable Golf Destinations Award Launched

1.50pm 29th January 2016 - Management Topics


The clubhouse at Espiche Golf The Algarve
The clubhouse at Espiche Golf The Algarve

The IAGTO Sustainability Awards, presented in partnership between IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) and GEO (the Golf Environment Organization) have been a key feature of the annual IAGTO Awards over the last four years, celebrating clubs that show a continued commitment to sustainable operations. In October 2015, at the close of IGTM in Tenerife, the awards ceremony saw the announcement of a new award, the Sustainable Golf Destination of the Year Award, which will be presented at the 2016 ceremony in Mallorca.

This new award will recognize golf destinations across the world which are collectively committed to protecting nature, using resources efficiently and providing value to the community. The award aims to encourage destinations to work together to embed sustainable practices for the benefit of their businesses, their community and the environment.

During the launch of the new award, Eric Duea from GEO highlighted two golf destinations which have already shown a leading role in the field: the Hilton Head Island Area, South Carolina, USA and The Algarve, Portugal, were both brought forward as examples of the benefits and value which working together towards sustainability can bring to a destination.

“We have seen a fantastic response to the IAGTO Sustainability Awards over the last four years,” said Peter Walton, Chief Executive of IAGTO. “There are a lot of clubs and resorts out there that are showing a real commitment across nature, resources and community and are receiving real benefits from their work. We’ve found it important to recognize and celebrate these clubs and are now delighted to be adding the Sustainable Destinations Award for 2016, allowing us to recognize the growing number of destinations around the world where golf resorts, local businesses and the local community work together to strengthen their destination to the benefit of their businesses, the community and the environment”.

Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO said: “We are increasingly seeing destinations work collaboratively across clubs, businesses and community groups to share and support one another to embed successful sustainability initiatives. The opportunities and benefits that these partnerships bring are fantastic and we are very glad to be working again with IAGTO to celebrate these destinations. The Hilton Head Island Area and The Algarve are two destinations worthy of distinction in this category and we hope that by sharing their story other destinations across the world will be inspired to drive forward a collective effort and to be recognized for their work together by entering the 2017 IAGTO Sustainable Destinations Award. We are all looking forward to hearing and sharing the stories from across the world.”

Bald eagles nesting at Moss Creek Golf Club, Hilton Head Island.The Hilton Head Island Area, South Carolina, is a popular family holiday and retirement destination. Hilton Head Island proper is home to 24 golf courses and over 50 miles of public bike and nature trails. Experience Green, a local non-profit organization, is leading the collective sustainability work across the area with support from the local tourism body, local government and many civic organizations.

In a collaborative effort, many of the area’s s golf clubs have joined OnCourse® golf’s sustainability programme and in October 2015 Sea Pines Resort, host of the annual RBC Heritage PGA TOUR Event presented by Boeing, became the first of the area’s golf facilities with 54 holes to gain accreditation as GEO Certified®, golf’s global eco-label, with several other clubs set to follow suit in the near future.

Initiatives across the Island include ‘golf by bike’ at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront, Zero Waste initiatives, an ‘Operation Pollinator’ programme supporting local pollinator population at several clubs in the area including Moss Creek Golf Club and habitat creation for rare species such as a snowy egret rookery at Spanish Wells Club and Bald Eagle nests at many properties. Use of recycled water and pollution prevention is a priority for all clubs in the area and many have invested in efficient technology for irrigation and strategies to protect water quality, among them Old South Golf Links and Bear Creek Golf Club.

The clubhouse at Espiche Golf, The Algarve, PortugalThe Algarve, Portugal, is an extremely popular European golfing destination. Golf managers and greenkeepers across the Algarve are working collaboratively with the local government, the regional tourism board, local university and the Portuguese Golf Federation to implement sustainable practices within their operations.

A group of eight golf resorts have come together to pioneer the destination’s sustainable golf initiatives, coordinated by Onyria Palmares Beach and Golf Resort. All of these resorts have signed up to the online OnCourse® programme and are working towards becoming GEO Certified®. A group sustainability policy has been adopted providing guiding principles on delivering quality experiences that also provide environmental, social and economic benefits and promote understanding and appreciation of natural and cultural values.

Initiatives in place across these clubs include: rainwater harvesting at Castro Marim Golfe and Country Club; use of electric golf cars at several of the clubs including Quinta da Ria, San Lorenzo and the Pestana Golf Resorts; and investment in energy-efficient irrigation systems at Onyria Palmares Beach and Golf Resort. Re-naturalization of areas at Benamor Golf and planting of native trees in the estate at Monte Rei Golf and Country Club has protected and enhanced wildlife habitats and sustainable construction has also featured in area, especially during the build of the new clubhouse at Espiche Golf.

The 2017 IAGTO Sustainable Destinations Award will be open to entries in May 2016 with a closing date for applications expected to be in September 2016. Collections of 5 of more golf courses in a particular area will be eligible to enter the award, the clubs should all be registered with the free OnCourse® programme for sustainable golf and have their own sustainability goals, while the collective group must have a joint sustainability policy/plan and the submission must have the support of the local or national tourism body.

The IAGTO Sustainable Destinations Award Entry From will ask representatives to present the great sustainability achievements of the courses and new initiatives undertaken in the last 12 months, along with the short and long term sustainability goals of the courses and destination. To be informed of the opening of the entries to all 2017 IAGTO Awards including the IAGTO Sustainable Club Awards and IAGTO Sustainable Destinations Award follow @IAGTO and @golfenvironment on twitter or sign up the GEO newsletter at

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