Tag Archive 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

Golf Highlights Innovation and Voluntary Leadership in Sustainability

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Golf Highlights Innovation and Voluntary Leadership in Sustainability

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The R&A, GEO and USGA line up in Washington DC to open global ISEAL Alliance standards and
certification event.

Sustainability leaders from around the world are gathered in Washington DC as the annual ISEAL
Global Sustainability Standards Conference gets underway, and this year will see the sport of golf
stepping forward to underscore the event’s focus on innovation.
Representatives from The R&A and USGA, alongside full ISEAL Member GEO (Golf Environment
Organization) addressed the Opening Reception on Tuesday evening, alongside Jörg Frieden,
Executive Director, Board of the World Bank and Crystal Davis, Director, Global Forest Watch,
World Resources Institute.

Golf will be prominent among a diverse cross section of over 350 national and international
businesses, government agencies, NGO’s, academia and consultancies -­ the only sport
represented during the three-­day event.

The opening reception speeches reflected the value and relevance of golf’s presence.
ISEAL Executive Director, Karin Kreider said: “Representing a growing community of collaborative
partners across the sport, we are delighted to see GEO bring this example of sectoral innovation to
the conference. By coming together around a platform of custom built standards, assurance,
certification and reporting, golf has established some of the central components of a cohesive and
credible strategy – helping define clear expectations, offering a trusted means of recognition, and
being able to monitor and report trends and impacts, locally, nationally and globally. And of course, the added value here to the sustainability movement is the role that this enables golf to play as a valued advocate for change across wider business and society; harnessing its visibility and reach.”

Steve Isaac, Director – Golf Course Management at The R&A, governing body of the sport outside of the USA and Mexico and significant investor in GEO’s work added: “Sustainability is a key priority for The R&A, and we are fully committed to helping drive evolution and change in and through the sport around the world. Positive practical action across the nature, resources and community agendas is good for golf, for the people we serve and for the environment we share. It’s a big opportunity and responsibility, and we are delighted to be here, participating, listening and learning, amongst this alliance of inspiring examples of proactive leadership”.

Kimberly Erusha, Ph.D., Managing Director of The USGA Green Section said, “For more than 100
years the United States Golf Association has committed to funding research and providing
expertise to foster innovation and help courses manage resources efficiently. As a result of that
investment, we continue to see positive change through the adoption of best management
practices, not only in golf, but within communities that maintain a wide array of recreational
facilities. Our ability to share knowledge through education outreach and enter into a global
dialogue on all aspects of sustainability is vital to the future of outdoor sports. We are proud to help
lead those discussions and provide data towards that ideal.”

Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO summed up: “The timing is perfect – with sustainability
now unequivocally a business imperative, the sport invited back into the Olympic Movement, and
with a desire from across clubs, developments and tournaments to evolve and innovate. We have
seen how robust, globally to locally applicable standards, certification and reporting systems can
help support and accelerate that positive change.
“As a result of the industry’s research, advocacy and investment, combined with specialist
solutions and services, golf is now extremely well placed to drive collective action and generate
tremendous results. GEO is proud to serve the sport in sustainability, and to be an active part of
ISEAL, which does so much to ensure the ongoing dynamism and credibility of the global standards and certification community.”

The Global Sustainability Standards Conference, now in its seventh year, will focus on a theme of innovation and evolution, exploring how standards and certification can use new tools and technological advances to grow their impact. Along with GEO, The R&A and USGA, golf industry representation is further strengthened by the presence of David Withers, CEO and President of Jacobsen, the only ISO 14001 accredited equipment supplier to the sport.
Beyond golf, the conference will feature a diverse array of bodies such as WWF, Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade, Marine Stewardship Council, World Bank Group, The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the World Resources Institute.

The full agenda for the Global Sustainability Standards Conference, which runs from the 10th-­11th
May 2016, Washington, DC, along with an interview with Jonathan Smith of GEO can be found at

Irie Fields Achieves a New First for Golf Course Developments

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Irie Fields at Kittitian Hill has become the first golf course in the world to achieve the new sustainability mark for golf developments, GEO Certified® Developments.

Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Mount Liamuiga in St Kitts, Irie Fields may not seem remarkable at first glance, it has fairways and greens just like thousands of golf courses across the world, but look closer and you see that this new golf course, set open mid-2016, is a game changer for international golf course development.

Eat Your Greens

Irie Fields is the first golf course to attain the GEO Certified® – Developments status, setting new standards for golf course developments that recognized the opportunity to contribute more positive social and environmental impacts across the design, planning and construction of the course. Not only that but Irie Fields is also hailed as the only fully organically maintained, edible golf course in the world.

Created by golf course architecture firm European Golf Design (EGD) in partnership with Welsh golfing legend, Ian Woosnam, Irie Fields golf course is part of Belle Mont Farm on Kittitian Hill, a sustainable luxury development on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean. The course firmly upholds Founder Val Kempadoo’s belief that sustainability is one of the fundamental factors to a successful business.

“From the very start I knew I wanted Irie Fields golf course to blend the unique culture of the island with a sustainable ethos to create something that was truly Kittitian, for the local community and visiting tourists alike.” said Kempadoo, “From selecting the location to siting the bunkers, the environment, the community and resource efficiencies have come first. While we had the vision, central to implementing it has been the support of EGD and guidance from GEO and I am confident that by working together we have created something which will bring true benefit to the people and nature of the island and a real, enjoyable Kittitian experience for our visitors for generations to come.”

This dedication to providing social value was seen throughout the project and one of the highlights of the development being the strong commitment to local employment and local supply chains. More than 95% of staff involved in the construction of the course originated from St Kitts itself and more than 97% of bulk golf course construction materials were sourced from the Island.

Mango, Avocado, Banana…

An edible landscapes policy has seen over 25 hectares of edible crops cultivated across the site, including mango, avocado, banana, guava, pineapple and passion fruit, bringing truly multi-purpose productivity to out of play areas, and the use of zero chemicals throughout construction has delivered major pollution prevention benefits and a healthier environment to play in. Resource efficient practices were also embedded into the design and construction of the course, minimizing water consumption of the course and the scale of earth works required during construction.

Gary Johnston, Designer at European Golf Design, who led the project, said “sustainability was integral in everything we did at Irie Fields, from the moment we picked up our pencils through to seeding the last hole”. Very much a team effort, this project was led by Kempadoo’s vision for a truly sustainable tourism development championed by Johnston and the team at EGD, and supported by GEO (the Golf Environment Organization). Johnston continued, “We are incredibly proud to have been part of this project. We have already recommended the GEO Developments programme to other developers and we hope that Irie Fields is just the first of many golf courses that we are involved with that will gain the GEO Certified® Development mark.”


GEO is a not-for profit organization dedicated to supporting sustainability across the international golf industry. Irie Fields have been working with GEO since early 2011 and have played a leading role in shaping the processes, documentation and voluntary standard for GEO’s new sustainable golf development program. Originally named the GEO Legacy program, GEO not only provides guidance and support on the benefits and practical implementation of sustainable operations for golf developments though the program OnCourse® Developments, they also administer the independently verified GEO Certified® Developments Mark.

Jonathan Smith, CEO at GEO said “This is an exciting time for sustainable golf and Irie Field’s achievement in becoming the first development to gain the GEO Certified® Developments mark is something which not only the club and its architects can be proud of but the industry as a whole. Golf is stepping up and taking its responsibility and its opportunities seriously, and we are honored to work with so many individuals and organizations that show real leadership in the filed of sustainable golf.”

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