Sustainable golf development is successful golf development. In recent years, the sport has shown that it is adapting to address future challenges, and new projects are pushing the boundaries of conventional golf course design.

Sustainable Public FacilitiesThe examples within these guidelines meet the challenges faced, such as resource availability, personal time constraints, tighter land restrictions and increasing social challenges. The next generation of golf developments is delivering greater benefits for their social and natural environments whilst providing multiuse recreational facilities for all generations.

Sustainable Golf Development Guidelines ContentsEndorsed by many of the major industry associations in golf development and sustainability, the guidelines examine the process of realising a golf development and operating a sustainable business for the benefit of as many people as possible. Both sets of guidelines complement the OnCourse® Developments programme’s ethos by being open and applicable to every kind of proposed golf course from large resort developments to smaller scale public golf facilities.

The guidelines below explain why and how to integrate sustainable practices into your business - to leave a lasting positive legacy for people and the environment. 

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Sustainable Golf Development Guidelines 2nd Published Edition August 2017
Sustainable Golf Development Guidelines
Public Facility Guidelines Sustainable Public Golf Development Guidelines

Partners & Supporters

The following groups provided financial and in-kind support, making the creation of this guidance possible. We are also very grateful to the members of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects for providing the real-world case studies that help to illustrate key elements of sustainable golf development. 

The R&A

R & AThe R&A engages in and supports activities that benefit the game of golf. Each year, it distributes roughly£5million to deserving causes from grassroots initiatives, through coaching and regional championships, to professional tours all over the world. The R&A is dedicated to providing front-line support and guidance to assist golf courses in developing a positive relationship with the environment.

European Institute of Golf Course ArchitectsEIGCA

Representing Europe’s most qualified golf course designers, the EIGCA believes environmental stewardship is a cornerstone of the profession, and a well designed golf course is one that achieves the best fit between quality of the golf course and the natural, economic and social characteristics of its environment.

European Tour
The European Tour

The European Tour is committed to celebrating the game of golf, from the origins of the professional game building a proud history of achievement, sportsmanship and integrity to showcase our diverse global talent and rich landscapes. The Tour’s innovative approach embraces the world, combining championships of tradition with new tournaments in the cities and countries of the future.

American Society of Golf Course Architects

The ASGCA supports members with education and shared knowledge, including promotion of environmentally responsible golf course design. ASGCA members work to construct courses that are in concert with nature; accommodating players and native wildlife and vegetation and playing a positive role in preserving the environment.


With innovative turf management equipment and precision irrigation solutions, Toro is committed to protecting the world's resources while delivering commercially viable solutions, with emphasis on research, development and innovation. As a patron of GEO Foundation and partner of OnCourse, Toro expands its support for sustainability efforts in golf.


Jacobsen’s mission is to be the premier supplier of high-quality turf equipment, utility vehicles, golf cars and tractors while also working to be environmentally conscious. From prestigious championship golf courses to the World Cup, for more than a century, the most important turf in the world has been manicured by Jacobsen – the only turf equipment manufacturer to be accredited with ISO 14001 certification.

European Golf Course Owners Association

Embracing the latest environmental thinking and technical solutions, and transparently communicating performance, enables EGCOA members to promote golf’s stewardship of the environment. The association aims to actively encourage and support practical environmental stewardship on golf courses across Europe.

Oxford Economics
Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics is the world leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis for business and government, and the most trusted resource for decision-makers seeking independent thinking and evidence-based research. Economic analysis from Oxford Economics can illustrate the importance of understanding local ecosystems and help support decisions about both local and global sustainability.

Japanese Society of Golf Course Architects

For nearly twenty years the Japanese Society of Golf Course Architects has represented and supported a group of highly qualified professionals. Providing education and sharing best practices and knowledge, contributing to a strong commitment to good design that takes into account the ideas put forth in this guidance.

Society of Australian Golf Course Architects

SAGCA encourages and supports the highest standard of design and construction among members, including a commitment and understanding of sustainability which is important in the world today. SAGCA members believe golf courses can and should have a very positive impact, protecting and enhancing the environment.