Update - Golf Union of Wales Sustainability Roadshows

by Philip Russell, Assistant to the Director – Golf Course Management

Phil Russell presents sustainability to delegatesAfter a week back in the office, I have had some time to digest the success of last week’s sustainability road show tour of Wales.  Between the Monday and Thursday, we covered approximately 220 miles and visited three venues:

Ashburnham Golf Club, Burry Port      (23 November 2010 - approximately 40 delegates)

Greenmeadow Golf Club, Cwmbran     (24 November 2010 - approximately 25 delegates)

The Kinmel Manor Hotel, Abergele       (25 November 2010 - approximately 50 delegates)

The presentations from myself; Jonathan Smith, the Chief Executive of The Golf Environment Organisation; and Richard Stuttard, Environmental Consultant of The Sports Turf Research Institute, were all very well received and it was great to hear some very positive feedback and after interacting with delegates on the individual days, where some innovative ideas on implementing more sustainable practices were raised.

Sustainability is becoming an issue of ever-increasing importance and relevance for golf, and this is a fact which is clearly being realised by a growing number of decision makers within golf clubs.  Events such as last week’s Welsh road-shows are a valuable opportunity for organisations within the game to communicate the real benefits that sustainable management can bring. It also provides individuals with a chance to voice their thoughts and seek opinions on how these principles can realistically be put into practice in their own course operations.

I am very grateful to my fellow speakers for a very enjoyable and productive few days, and, of course, to Richard Dixon, Chief Executive of The Golf Union of Wales, for organising the week and making the tour so successful.


Two days into the tour of roadshows across Wales, the ‘Sustain Don’t Abstain Series 2’ programme has been met with great support and enthusiasm.  45 delegates on Tuesday at Ashburnham Golf Club, and 25 at Greenmeadow on Wednesday, enjoyed the event, and contributed some productive points of view on how sustainability can contribute to making golf courses into successful and secure businesses.

After an introduction from Richard Dixon, Chief Executive of The Golf Union of Wales, I have kicked off the daily presentations with an explanation of the work of The R&A in progressing the global sustainability agenda.  Particular reference has been given to the upcoming, and newly developed, course management website and decision making tools for managers. 

My presentation was followed by a session with Jonathan Smith, CEO of the Golf Environment Organisation, to further examine some of the many benefits that sustainability can bring to the game, both at the individual club level and as an industry more widely.  Jonathan has introduced GEO certification, a programme for recognising and providing accreditation for the achievements of clubs in the field of sustainability, that has also looked at how the principles of sustainable management were applied to make this year’s clash between the professionals of Europe and the USA at Celtic Manor the greenest Ryder Cup ever.

Your blogger, Phil Russell, second from the left.Richard Stuttard, Environmental Consultant of the STRI, then presented an examination of some of the many financial benefits that carbon calculation and management can bring to the golf course.  Richard’s session not only provided an insight into the magnitude of financial expenditure that often stems from inefficiency, but also provided delegates with some practical, take-home tips for improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money at their home clubs.

The afternoon sessions have been an opportunity to examine some individual case studies which demonstrate the direct benefits to playing performance, economic performance, environmental stewardship and social responsibility that can be derived from adopting the sustainable management approach.  These discussion sessions have encouraged active participation from the audience.  It has been very interesting to engage with the other speakers and the delegates at these events to discuss how the principles of sustainability can practically, and effectively, be put into action.

After a 160-mile drive across Wales on Wednesday afternoon, the 2010 roadshows will culminate at the Kinmel Manor Hotel in Abergele today [Thursday].  I am looking forward to another successful event to draw a close to this year’s seminars and to round off our tour of Wales.

Stay tuned for some further feedback once I return to St Andrews and have some more time to digest the successes of these recent events.



On Monday 22 November, I will head out from St Andrews for Cardiff and the start of a three-day programme of sustainability roadshows hosted by the Golf Union of Wales and The R&A.  Richard Dixon, the Chief Executive of the GUW, has put together an interesting programme under the title ‘Sustain Don’t Abstain Series 2’, which will offer golf club secretaries, managers, chairmen of green and course managers an insight into how the principles of sustainable management can produce better and more profitable golf courses.  These follow on from another roadshow programme that The R&A supported back in 2008.

Climate change, an uncertain economic forecast, increasingly stringent water and pesticide regulations: these are some of the real concerns in the minds of decision makers at golf courses.  The principles of sustainable management and development have much to offer to help golf courses deal with these pressures, both proactively and successfully.

The sustainability roadshows will call at the Ashburnham and Green Meadow Golf Clubs in South Wales before winding up at the Kinmel Manor Hotel at Abergele on North Wales' coast.  They will feature an excellent array of speakers from the Golf Environment Organisation, the Scottish Golf Union, STRI and The R&A.  I am excited at the prospect of participating in these sessions and look forward to engaging in discussions on how sustainable practices have so much to offer for securing the future of golf courses around the world.

My presentation will be about the latest work of The R&A on sustainability; an explanation of what we are doing to help golf clubs around the world move forward in a sustainable, and successful, manner.  This means offering excellent playing surfaces for the game, conserving and enhancing the natural environment, positively contributing to the community; all achieved whilst maintaining a secure financial operation.

This will be my first trip to Wales and I will have the opportunity to see a couple of its golf courses and meet many enthusiastic supporters of the sustainability agenda. It’s sure to be an enjoyable and informative week, and I look forward to reporting back on what I’ve taken away from it.