IAGTO and GEO Foundation celebrate global sustainable golf

30 Nov 2021

IAGTO and GEO Foundation celebrate global sustainable golf

The eighth edition of the IAGTO Sustainability Awards, delivered in partnership with GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf, recognizes the sustainability work of golf facilities worldwide.

The global awards are open to IAGTO members who are part of the GEO Foundation’s OnCourse network – an entirely free programme used by golf facilities in 76 countries. The awards received an extraordinary response with more than 50 applications from five continents - each facility telling a unique story about sustainability in and through golf.

John Kemp, Education and Support, GEO Foundation, said: “Congratulations to each of the winners of this year's IAGTO Sustainability Awards, and to all those who put themselves forward for consideration. Each of the winners has shared fantastic examples of their environmental, social, resource and climate leadership, and demonstrated how golf facilities and golf tourism have a significant benefit for communities, landscapes and the planet.

“It’s been a pleasure to again work with IAGTO to recognise sustainability leadership amongst its membership. GEO Foundation is proud to support those working in golf facilities around the world through OnCourse - golf's sustainability programme - and the global recognition, GEO Certified."

The 2021 Awards introduced the Climate Action Award for the first time – recognizing a facility that has made a strategic commitment to taking climate action, with practical steps to reduce emissions and manage their landscape to maximize carbon sequestration.

Peter Walton, Chief Executive, IAGTO, was impressed with the high standard of this year’s entrants, “While the golf tourism industry was focused on coping with and recovering from pandemic-related travel restrictions, it was great to see so many golf courses take this time to review their sustainability programs, and in many cases take them to another level. This year, more than ever, I’ve been blown away by the ingenuity and real dedication that so many golf courses continue to demonstrate.”

Details of the five successful facilities are listed below, along with links to their Sustainable Golf Highlights: 

Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability Winner: Minthis Golf Club, Cyprus

In 2019, Minthis Golf Club was the recipient of the Sustainability Award for Resource Efficiency. Since this time, the club has built upon its GEO Certification with an array of sustainable practices. 

Native planting and notable habitat areas combine with simple and strategic turfgrass management to ensure the course is a unique golfing environment and valuable natural landscape.

A focus on water efficiency and sustainable sourcing complements an emphasis on energy efficiency in the clubhouse and on the course. The combined sustainability efforts are also helping the facility to take real climate action, with a reduction in emissions of 20% over four years as measured by its Sustainability Scorecard from GEO Foundation.

Nature Protection Award Winner: Royal Wellington Golf Club, New Zealand

Celebrating its most recent GEO Certification in 2020, Royal Wellington has made a commitment to the management of a unique landscape for several years.

A wide variety of valuable habitats – from grassland to wetlands and woodlands – are home to notable flora species supported by an onsite nursery. The club is also home to 64 beehives supporting a critical species. Approaching the conclusion of a five-year plan to increase naturalized areas has boosted environmental habitat areas by approximately 25% across the site. 

Resource Efficiency Award Winner: Quinta do Lago, Portugal

Working towards GEO Certified, Quinta do Lago has made significant strides in resource management across materials, water and energy.

A reduction in the area of maintained turf, investment in an upgraded irrigation system and its use of recycled water combine to maximize efficiency. Quinta do Lago has also invested in a fully electric fleet of golf carts and hybrid golf course maintenance equipment and worked with local government to trial and develop renewable energy solutions. 

Community Value Award Winner: Gleneagles, Scotland

Since 2013, Gleneagles has shown sustainability leadership both as a facility and venue to major golf events.

Some examples include rewarding healthcare workers by donating free hotel stays and partnering with local and national charities to raise much-needed funds. Working with local businesses means a more environmentally-friendly supply chain. The appointment of a role dedicated to sustainability within the golf estate in 2021 demonstrates the long-term ongoing commitment.

Climate Action Award Winner: Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland

GEO Certified on three occasions in 2013, 2016 and 2019 – and preparing for a fourth – Carnoustie Golf Links has made sustainability an integral part of its vision for many years. Links Superintendent Craig Boath is an inaugural GEO Sustainable Golf Champion for his leadership in this area.

Increased areas of natural habitat, reduced mowing of turfgrass, a course maintenance fleet that includes electric and hybrid equipment are just some of Carnoustie’s Sustainable Golf Highlights. Part of Carnoustie’s commitment to climate action includes utilizing GEO Foundation’s Sustainability Scorecard to measure the facility’s carbon balance – which has shown a 26% decrease in emissions since 2018.

Hear from this year's winners and learn more about their commitment to sustainable golf below. 

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