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Greener Golf

What is the business benefit of good environmental management?

In summary, good environmental management will:

  • Save you up to £30,000 per annum for a typical club and considerably more for larger clubs.
  • Reduce your operational risks and attract discounts from your insurers.
  • Reduce your risks of pollution and potential prosecution.
  • Improve your reputation to customers and stakeholders – old and new.

The Greener Golf sustainability content has been designed to give you quick and easy access to a range of Regulators, NGOs, Charities and academic organisations with resources available to help you. It is arranged in 3 sections:

  • Resources
  • Nature
  • Community

Each section has specific information and points of contact that will give you help on the specific project or subject of interest.

This content has been compiled by England Golf in conjunction with Environmental Solutions International Ltd (ESi) with a view to developing simple guidance to allow golf clubs to improve their environmental management and sustainability practices.

ESi have been involved in the golf sector for over 30 years including 14 years involved directly in facilities and environmental consultancy; Tony Hanson, MD, is also a member of the British Institute of Facilities Management (MBIFM), a practitioner at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (PIEMA), a Golf Environment Organisation Sustainability Associate and Planet Mark Associate (Eden Project endorsed sustainability certification).

Clubs wishing to go beyond simply accessing the information from the various organisations available can engage industry experts for more tailored support.

Why is resource management important?

Resource consumption and management are key areas for the operation of any golf club based on the simple costs of purchase, waste management and disposal. It is essential that a sufficient proportion of time is allocated to the control of resource intensive areas of your operation to ensure efficient management of your major cost centres.
The most interesting element of sustainability, for most golf clubs, will no doubt be resource efficiency, in simple terms minimising your consumption of energy and water through a combination of awareness and new technologies.  The potential savings through relatively simple technologies are likely to exceed 25% and for most golf clubs, depending on measures that you have already put in place.

The following pages have information and links to a number of Government and Non-Government organisations able to assist you to reduce your consumption, and to provide a guide to legal compliance in operations, storage and disposal of hazardous materials;

Carbon Trust

Environment Agency



Why is managing the natural landscape important?

The golf industry has changed significantly over the last 30 plus years working to reduce its environmental impacts by reducing pesticides consumption, reducing the area of close mown amenity grassland and enhancing natural habitats. The less intensive methods of management have partly been due to more enlightened attitudes, but also from a desire to reduce the required man hours and course inputs resulting from large highly managed areas of land.

As sustainability issues have come to the fore over recent years, the golf industry can genuinely claim to provide significant areas of natural habitat. The golf sectors management of land across the UK offers significant benefits to the wider community through carbon dioxide reduction, air quality improvements, urban air temperature reduction and flood water attenuation among others.

Collaboration with the various organisations monitoring the spread of invasive species, pests and diseases will also potentially benefit the golf industry. The negative effects are likely to impact significantly on our industry through the costs of managing non-native species, potential loss of entire tree species and the use of increasingly costly pesticides. Without industry wide action it is likely that the look and management of golf courses will change forever, and even with our action we may simply delay the inevitable.

The golf industry has, to some extent, received little recognition for the significant work undertaken in managing the natural habitat on their sites. However, through collaboration with the following NGO’s, charities and academic bodies, we’re seeking to redress this balance and to help identify the benefits provided by the golf industry to the natural environment;

The Wildlife Trust

Open Air Laboratory (OPAL)

People’s Trust for Endangered Species

Arboricultural Association

How do we engage the wider community to raise awareness?
Community engagement for the golf industry is an important element in a longer term process of sustainability.  In this context sustainability not only refers to minimising the effects of the operation on the environment but also in terms of forging strong links with your local community through the development of local Supply Networks and connections with local community groups schools and charities.
The creation of stronger local links will help to encourage the view of the golf club being a community asset beyond simply playing the game of golf.  Local connections often lead to membership, green fees, event bookings, restaurant and bar use and broader connections with the local business community.
In addition to these potential financial benefits it is very common for golf clubs to benefit from a broader knowledge pool from wildlife groups, schools and universities that may be able to provide advice on a diverse range of issues potentially affecting the operation of a golf club.

It’s worth looking at how you engage with your existing membership base in terms of sustainability. The following organisations may also be able to support with local engagement;

Member Engagement

Local Authorities

Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)

People’s Trust for Endangered Species

In addition, many UK Universities have students seeking sites for research on a range of specific projects on habitat, species (native and invasive) and disease.

ESi, OPAL, PTES, EA, Wildlife Trusts and other organisations could benefit from the collaboration between the golf sector and researchers to undertake studies. The combination of land area and distribution of golf courses in the UK could offer an invaluable resource to the academic community.

In return, collaboration could help the golf sector understand disease spread, Ash dieback for example, that would have a potentially devastating consequence to the character of golf courses across the UK. In addition, the reputation of the golf industry will be enhanced and the conservation element of all golf courses’ operations more easily recognised by regulators and Government.


The potential benefits of Greener Golf

To the environment:
  • Protect our global resources: efficient use/re-use of raw materials, energy and water
  • Reduce pollution to create a pleasant local environment in which to live and play golf
For the golf club:
  • Increased efficiency – cost savings/time savings
  • Elevated status/prestige
  • Staff motivation and job diversity
  • Meet members and public expectations