Major golf course architecture associations sign climate pledge — but what does it mean?

19 Jul 2022

Major golf course architecture associations sign climate pledge — but what does it mean?


At the end of June, the world’s leading golf course architecture associations signed a joint pledge — strengthening their commitment to climate action, and helping the sport towards a net zero future. 

The signing came at the end of an annual conference hosted by European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) and held in Iceland, a country renowned for its forward-thinking attitude towards sustainability and its ambition for achieving carbon neutrality before 2040.

The event was also part of a wider ‘Driving Net Zero’ programme of activities that was kicked off by GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf at COP26 in Glasgow, and which has run through 2022. 

The conference sought to educate and inspire over 100 attendees on golf and climate change.

GEO Foundation supported the conference with EIGCA in Reykjavík, with Founder and Executive Director Jonathan Smith and Director of Golf Development Sam Thomas among many presenting on subjects ranging from climate impacts on golf, to carbon research, carbon calculation, credible mitigation and other support programmes for sustainability, such as OnCourse®.

And the Presidents of the three largest societies in golf course architecture — the American Society for Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA), as well as EIGCA — closed the week by signing the pledge and committing to do more to push golf towards net zero.

But what exactly was the pledge, and what does it mean for golf?

Jonathan Smith, Founder and Executive Director of GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf, addressing the EIGCA conference alongside the pledge. © EIGCA

The pledge is an agreement and commitment by the European, American and Australian golf course architect societies to work towards climate solutions by taking positive actions throughout their golf design and development work.

Alongside this, the societies have pledged to engage in further climate-based research, education and innovation in the future.

It recognises that there is a climate crisis ongoing and that course architects have both a responsibility and opportunity to make a difference through the work they do. It shows the keenness of the societies and their members to make meaningful contributions and take positive climate action.

The net zero future for golf development means seeking and implementing ways to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions throughout the planning, design, construction process, while considering the impact on long-term operations, spanning direct and wider supply chain emissions. 

It also means credible lasting mitigation of unavoidable emissions through activities that are both measurable and additional to the benefits inherent in the golf development itself.

The pledge read: “As a collective that represents many of the world’s leading golf course designers, this pledge strengthens our commitment toward climate action, within the wider framework of sustainable development as set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“We recognise the fundamental societal importance of emissions reduction, nature-based solutions and local climate adaptation. We believe that continuing to provide positive climate solutions is part of all our professional duties, to our communities, clients and others.”

Written and facilitated by GEO Foundation, this commitment is the first of its kind between the three major societies in golf course architecture and demonstrates how seriously the industry is taking the matter, while also underlining their desire to make a positive impact and lead the field in climate action.

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