03 Oct 2022
For over 60 million people, the sport of golf is an important recreation. An opportunity to exercise in nature amongst friends. Competing against others and the elements. It’s enriching and rewarding, and part of healthy, sociable lifestyles.
Within communities, many golf facilities provide a place for volunteering, lifelong learning, inter-generational connectivity, social cohesion and charitable support.
For millions more, who may not actively participate, golf is exciting entertainment that often produces inspirational sporting drama.
Golf is a large sport and sector, covering an area greater than the size of Belgium. It’s a business with an economic value estimated to be larger than Hollywood’s. Multiple sub-sectors and supply chains that service 39,000 golf facilities, thousands of tournaments, hundreds of new developments, plus tourism, equipment, merchandise, media and more.
However, the world in which all of this operates is changing. The planet on which golf is played is under pressure. We are now all living in a world increasingly driven by sustainability.
The challenges this creates for one of the world’s largest land-based sports are becoming clear. Risks that were once a decade or more away, have arrived: dependencies on water during increasing droughts; more wide-spread flooding; extreme heat in more locations making outdoor recreation hazardous and turf care more difficult; regulation around the use of chemicals in amenity and urban spaces and sports grounds; costs and availability of fuel, fertilisers, sand, water, land and more; public sensitivity to sustainability directly linked to image and reputation.
Yet even with these challenges, golf can be on the right side of the future we all need. A positive in terms of impact, image and influence. Proactive and accelerated adaptations can move the sport in line with, if not ahead of, other businesses, sectors and land users. By leaning into nature, resource conservation, social value and climate action, golf can overcome dependencies and risks, and by championing sustainability in front of millions, golf can emerge as a leading example.
A sport and sector that builds further on its opportunities to restore landscapes, ecosystems and biodiversity. That strives harder to serve communities in a host of new ways. That respects future generations of golfers and non-golfers alike by aiming to become a genuine force for good. Delivering value directly, and also multiplying value with a positive ripple effect out through venues and events, associations and players.
Golf needs golf to set sustainability sights even higher. Society needs golf to set sights higher – and to help inspire others to do the same.
So, this Sustainable Golf Week let’s all ask – what can we do, either small or significant, to foster nature; conserve water, energy and materials; strengthen our local communities; and take climate action?
Golf can, and many would say should, be the sport which does the most, when it is needed most.
Let’s all help make sure we can proudly say that golf is sustainable golf.