Waste Management Phoenix Open Helps Set New Sustainability Standard

The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open is conducting an official pilot of the new sustainability standard for golf tournaments. Highly regarded for their leadership in sustainability and sports, Waste Management will put the standard to test at golf’s most highly attended professional tournament.

Over half a million spectators will pass through the gates of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale this week.  Despite these attendance levels, the event has achieved zero waste-to-landfill the past four consecutive years. “It’s been very exciting to collaborate with the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Council for Responsible Sport and other event partners in piloting a new standard for golf tournaments,” said Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO (Golf Environment Organization) the non-profit coordinating development of the standard. “The pilot comes at the end of a lengthy process, which has brought together international collaboration across tournament directors, academics, sustainability and event experts.  We are delighted to now be close to completing a consistent and highly credible trio of sustainability standards for golf – spanning facility management, developments and now tournaments – each with a bespoke approach to third party verification and certification.”

Waste Management Phoenix Open

Piloting the new standard has been the focal point of the Inspire status awarded to the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open by the Council for Responsible Sport, a non-profit based in Oregon that promotes sustainability in sport. Inspire status is the highest designation awarded by the Council for Responsible Sport. As a result of continuous leadership and achievement, Inspire event organizers are expected to mentor other sporting events. Lessons from this year’s pilot will advance the Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard and inspire other golf tournaments around the world to embrace practical action against social and environmental issues.

Both the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Council for Responsible Sport sit on the Expert Working Group which drove the development of this new standard. It builds on the Council for Responsible Sport’s framework for all sporting events, integrating a focus on performance across golf’s sustainability agenda: nature conservation; resource efficiency; and community value. It is designed to be relevant, practical and accessible to golf tournaments of all sizes.

The Sustainable Golf Tournament standard, and GEO Certified® Tournaments label, will be launched in 2017, combining the results and feedback from the Waste Management Phoenix Open as well as previous tournaments such as The 145th Open Championship and the 2014 Ryder Cup. Following completion of the official pilot, the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open hopes to become the first tournament to achieve this international recognition.

Michele Grossman, Managing Principal of Sustainability Services at Waste Management said: “Improving social, environmental and economic well-being through sport is growing and becoming more visible. Waste Management supports credible certification because it holds events accountable to their claims, and helps organizers develop programs to have a lasting beneficial impact on the communities where their events take place and the legacy they leave behind. As part of our Inspire certification from the Council for Responsible Sport we chose to partner with GEO to help develop a credible standard specific to golf tournaments. We’re excited to test our years-long experience at “the greenest show on grass”, and proud to lead in this sustainable sport movement.”

Collier Miller, Senior Director of Agronomy for TPC Network said: “We are extremely proud to host the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ‘the greenest show on grass’ at TPC Scottsdale and to play our part in the initiatives pioneered by Waste Management and which are very much in line with our own TPC ethos and practices. We are always working to advance the substantial environmental programmes at our facilities and welcome the engagement of GEO in this effort through their custom built standard and guidance programs for golf.”

Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard Consultation Launched

A public consultation period has opened on a new voluntary sustainability standard for golf tournaments, with industry leaders calling for input into the creation of sustainable best practices for golf tournaments around the world.

“We’re excited to be launching the public consultation on criteria for a Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard” said Eric Duea, Tournament Programme Manager at GEO (Golf Environment Organization), the not-for-profit group leading the industry collaboration behind this new standard. “Including the participation of various experts and industry leaders is an important stage in the development of a practical industry standard. Strong industry standards are formed when a diversity of viewpoints are incorporated, and I am looking forward to seeing what we learn over the next 60 days.”

With growing awareness among both consumers and organizers of the impact which major events, including golf tournaments, can have across social, economic and environmental factors the golf industry is making proactive efforts to minimise impacts and maximize the positive value of tournaments.

BMW Championship 2016, part of The European Tour’s GreenDrive one of a growing number of sustainability initiatives at golf tournaments“Since the London 2012 Olympic Games sustainability has been firmly on the agenda of large events across the globe” said Mervyn Jones, Director at SGR Ltd, a sustainability and resource efficiency consultancy, and member of the Expert Working Group for the Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard, a group of ten experts from the golfing, sustainability, event and academic worlds who, facilitated by GEO, are developing the standard. “Golf is no exception to this growing action amongst events, with sustainability programmes such as the European Tour’s GreenDrive and The Open’s GreenLinks programmes gaining impact and momentum each year. The aim of this standard is to define meaningful and practical criteria to assist golf tournaments, large and small, to maximise their positive social and environmental value.”

“This is not a stand alone drive in golf,” explains Mr Duea, “a sustainability standard and certification scheme has been in place for golf facilities operations for several years now and earlier in 2016 a standard and certification system was launched for new golf developments, which has already been widely applauded by the industry and gained significant traction. Each of these standards, including the one in progress, are developed to the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice, GEO is the only sporting body to be a member of this highly respected body, along with other credible standard setting bodies such as Fairtrade, FSC and MSC.”

The ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Standard Setting focuses on collaboration, credibility, real positive impact and transparency. The current period of public consultation is part of that process.

“We’d like to encourage anyone with an interest, a passion and a knowledge of golf, events or sustainability to get involved and have their say.” Said Keith Peters from the Council for Responsible Sport and member of the Expert Working Group. “This is a truly collaborative process and an exciting opportunity to be part of, and to strengthen, sustainability both in and through golf. While the Council has applied its certification standard to three U.S. tournaments, there are hundreds golf tournaments every year across the globe, with millions of spectators at the events and watching on TV. This is a great opportunity to make a real, lasting and positive difference globally through this new standard and I encourage you to play a part.”

The public consultation will run from 17th October to 17th December 2016. GEO particularly urge input from any individuals or groups representing often marginalised stakeholders- for example tribal or community groups, disability rights, and ask that interested parties get in contact with GEO if there are any barriers to their group’s participation. All details on the consultation, as well as further information about sustainability in golf tournaments can be found here.


Milestone in Sustainable Golf Development

Golf shows proactive leadership and collaboration as it comes together on a voluntary sustainability standard for golf developments.

A new sustainable golf development standard, developed through close collaboration both within and outside the golf industry, has been introduced as part of golf’s efforts to become a leader in sustainable sport, land-use and development.

After 18 months of open consultation and dedicated work by an International Expert Working Group, facilitated by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), a credible, accessible and relevant voluntary sustainability standard for golf development has been established. The standard document provides a framework which guides the process of delivering new golf developments and renovations, from site selection through to opening day; maximising positive social and environmental value throughout.

Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO, the non-profit organisation dedicated to helping advance sustainability in and through golf, said: “Bringing diverse stakeholders together to produce credible and accessible sustainability standards is no easy task and we’d like to thank all those that have dedicated their time and expertise to the process.  In particular we acknowledge The R&A’s leadership, vision and investment; WWF’s engagement; the support of the major golf architect associations worldwide; and the further backing of valued corporate partners, Jacobsen, and sponsors John Deere and Toro.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A said:  “There is more and more evidence that sustainability is key to the growth and vitality of the sport around the world  which is why The R&A is investing in the long-term solutions the industry needs.  Voluntary sustainability standards have an important role to play and we are delighted to see this significant milestone being achieved.  We would encourage people involved in golf development to utilise this resource as they create the profitable facilities of the future, serving golfers and wider society and enhancing the image and reputation of the sport as they do so.”

Voluntary Sustainability Standard for Golf Developments

Richard Holland, interim Director of Markets at WWF, a leading global conservation charity, and member of the International Expert Working Group said: “I am delighted to have been part of the standard development process and help the sport to address a vital component of its sustainability performance which is crucial for golf’s growth and future success. Congratulations to all those involved in achieving this milestone. The next step is to make sure it is used in practice – by developers, by investors and governments, and their agencies, as a framework to ensure the best possible outcomes from projects in their jurisdiction”.

The eight members of the International Expert Working Group, which shaped the standard from its earliest stages, included representatives from the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects; American Society of Golf Course Architects; The European Institute of Golf Course Architects; The Golf Course Builders Association of America; European Commission; Beijing Forestry University; Australian National University and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Central to the credibility and rigour behind this achievement is The ISEAL Alliance’s code of good practice for standard setting. GEO earned full ISEAL membership status in 2015 and followed the codes throughout the development of this standard document. These same codes of good practice are followed by other well known sustainability bodies including Fairtrade, The Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Amy Jackson, ISEAL’s Senior Manager for Learning and  Membership said: “Golf is the only sport to have representation, via GEO, in  ISEAL. Following our Standard-Setting Code shows a commitment to transparency, multi-stakeholder balanced input and, along with our impacts and assurance codes, helps to ensure that this standard will produce positive and measurable environmental and social impacts. Having worked with GEO for several years now we continue to be impressed with their commitment to sustainability in golf and, as an ISEAL member, working together with other leading sustainability standards. We are particularly impressed with the standard setting process for this Sustainable Golf Development voluntary sustainability standard, which was road-tested against real projects from around the world.”

The document and further explanation can be viewed here along with information on the OnCourse®Developments programme, which provides practical support to assist developments and the GEO Certified®Developments mark, which provides credible recognition to developments.


Additional Quotes

Quotes from members of the international Expert Working Group can be found below for use in regional publications. Further information on the Expert Working Group can be found here.


Tom Mackenzie, President of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA):

“The European Institute of Golf Course Architects congratulates the Golf Environment Organization on the publication of the Golf Development Voluntary Sustainability Standard. It is another important stage in demonstrating that golf courses can be developed in a way that is good for all concerned. We are proud of our input assisting GEO which dates back more than a decade now and look forward to further close collaboration with all of the team there in the coming years.”


The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) and Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA) Joint Statement:

“The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) and Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA) congratulate the Golf Environmental Organization (GEO) on the release of the Voluntary Sustainability Standard for Golf Developments.  As members of the International Sustainable Golf Development Working Group who provided guidance through the creation of the guidelines, our respective organizations were able to provide feedback and critique of the document. ASGCA and GCBAA members thank GEO for providing a tool to promote sustainable golf course development and maintenance, and for helping the golf industry continue to raise its profile as an entity dedicated to good stewardship of the environment.”


Ross Perrett, representing Society of Australian Golf Course Architects Task Force:

“Congratulations to the whole team on the release of the Voluntary Sustainability Standard for Golf Development – Thomson Perrett look forward to assisting in getting governments in emerging golf markets to adopt these voluntary standards for the roll out of golf facilities in their countries.”


Robert Donkers, former Director of Urban Policy, DG Environment for the European Commission:

“The development of the voluntary sustainability standard for golf developments is a strong and practical display of the golf industry’s commitment to sustainable development. It is also a demonstration of productive collaboration across and outside the industry. We are proud to have been a part of the process and look forward to seeing this practical and accessible standard’s positive impact across the golf development sector continue to grow.”


Further Information:

For Media Enquires Please Contact:

Libi Newell, Communications and Community Engagement, Golf Environment Organization Tel: +44 162 0895 100 Email: [email protected]

About GEO

GEO is a stakeholder-funded, not-for-profit organization, dedicated to helping the global golf community establish leadership in environmental enhancement, resource efficiency and community value.

For more information, please visit www.golfenvironment.org

Hosts of the Honda Classic Show Winning Form for Sustainable Golf

PGA National, winners of the IAGTO Sustainable Golf Course of the Year – Americas 2016, are topping of the leaderboard for sustainable golf at the Honda Classic.

This week sees the annual Honda Classic return to the Champion Course at the PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida for its 10th year. A staple in the tour calendar the Honda Classic will see 144 players with 11 of the top 20 world’s best golfers, along with nearly 200,000 spectators enjoy the beauty and splendor of the world renowned venue.

While PGA National’s Champion Course’s golfing features, such as the infamous three hole ‘Bear Trap’, are known across the globe, what the competitors and spectators, both on the course and in homes across the world, might not know about are the many innovative and award winning sustainability initiatives taking place at this championship course.

In October last year the course’s sustainability initiatives won PGA National the coveted IAGTO Sustainable Golf Course of the Year – Americas 2016 Award, and earlier in the year the course achieved golf’s prestigious international eco-label, GEO Certified®. Along with prominent positive publicity the club’s sustainability programme, lead by Kathy McGuire, PGA National’s Manager for Sustainable Development, has brought the club economic savings and greatly benefited the local environment.

“Sustainability is key to the success of any modern business” explains Ms. McGuire “and any sustainability programme must make financial sense. In implementing sustainability practices across our course we have seen drastic savings. Our electricity bills have been reduced by $18,000 a year and water use has been reduced by 35% already. And, of course the environment benefits from all these practices. We are delighted with the awards we have won and becoming GEO Certified® last year was a real, credible recognition of the positive work we do here.”

GEO Certified® is independently assessed by experts in sustainable golf and managed by GEO (The Golf Environment Organization) the international not-for-profit dedicated to furthering sustainable golf. The certification requires clubs to show practical action and continuing commitment across the three key principles of sustainable golf: nature protection, resource efficiency and community value.

Jonathan Smith, CEO of GEO said “The leadership that Kathy and the team at PGA National are showing in sustainable golf is a credit to the club. Their implementation of practical initiatives has benefited the club, the environment and the community, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

Some of the highlights of PGA Nationals sustainability programme include:

  • The conversion of turfgrass species leading to 35% reduction in water use 30% reduction in fungicide use and 20% reduction in overall fertilizer use;
  • Close loop recycling for the sites green waste with 100% recycled and returned to the facility as mulch for organic fertilizer;
  • Closed loop washing facilities for equipment and golf carts sees water being cleaned and recycled for re-use;
  • Instalment of energy-efficient drives to irrigation pumps contributing to $18,000 per year savings on electricity;
  • Management to encourage and protect wildlife leading to Bald Eagles and Sandhill Cranes nesting on site
  • Use of only plants native to Florida in planting across the course;
  • Protection and monitoring of waterways on the course which act as important habitat corridors to the Everglades;
  • Provision of free electric vehicle charging for guests and members; and
  • A wide variety of involvement in local community – from hosting charity tournaments and events, to donating, and active participation by staff and members in local projects.

For more information about sustainable at PGA National, including their full GEO Certified® verification report visit www.golfenvironment.org.

Sustainable Golf Development Consultation

GEO is seeking input from interested parties on the proposed international voluntary standard for New Golf Developments’. Setting an international voluntary standard for golf development represents a significant step for golf as an industry to take. It signals a consideration for the impacts and a protection of the integrity of the industry.

Golf developments and renovations can embrace sustainability for valuable business benefits, prestigious global recognition, and to ensure a positive legacy.

The ‘Sustainable Golf Development Guidelines’ were consulted upon and drafted by GEO and a wide range of stakeholders in 2012 aimed at setting context and integrating sustainability in golf developments. The guidelines were the first step to establishing a platform to raise awareness and promote industry discussion on sustainable golf development issues.

Since 2012 GEO has been collaborating with several real world projects to field-test these guidelines, collecting data and feedback to help inform the drafting of an international voluntary standard for golf developments.

The proposed voluntary standard has now been drafted, consulted upon by the Expert Working Group (created to provide a balance of views and opinions from different technical aspects and geographical regions) and once by the general public. The second round of public consultation process will now begin.

In line with ISEAL code of standard setting, this second round of public consultation will be organised in order to allow all interested and affected parties to provide their comments and contribute to the process.

Consultation Open: February 22nd – March 30th 2016

For more details please click here.