England Golf is committed to progressively improving the environmental credentials of golf clubs across England. It is working to achieve this objective through the provision of a newly released environment website and through direct interaction with club representatives via a number of different projects and initiatives.
Greener Golf website
In 2011, England Golf launched a new website, Greener Golf. Part funded by The R&A, and developed by STRI, the site provides high quality, golf-specific, environmental advice to English golf clubs. The initiative was in response to the recognition of the growing importance of assisting golf clubs to operate more sustainably both now and in the future. The website seeks to provide valuable guidance to clubs through the provision of an interactive environmental policy generator and also through a comprehensive catalogue of online resources.
Interactive environmental policy generator
The Environmental Policy Generator allows golf clubs to develop a written record of their environmental objectives and to bring about legal compliance and environmental improvements at the operational level. Before this is begun, England Golf encourages clubs to establish an environmental sub-committee. In order for this group to be as influential as possible, it is recommended that members should be composed of the Secretary, the Course Manager, the Club Professional, the Chef/Restaurant Manager, the Bar Manager, the Office Manager and Golf Club Member(s).
Once this sub-committee has been formed, it can use the policy generator to answer a series of questions on the current management practices and environmental performance of their golf club. The answers will be used to automatically create a bespoke environmental policy document. This contains a set of general polices which England Golf hopes will be taken up by all English golf clubs and a set of specific polices that have been tailored to each golf club’s current environmental performance. The Environmental Policy Document can be presented to the golf club membership and adopted by the club to provide a written record of their environmental aspirations and the means by which these can be achieved.
The England Golf Greener Golf website also contains a resource section, which provides information to help clubs effectively implement the recommendations outlined in their environmental policy document. Resources include legislation guidance, management advice, potential sources of funding, case studies, interactive tools and links to other useful websites.
England Golf believes that by following the steps outlined on the greener golf website and through adhering to the recommended courses of action, there are multiple benefits, both to the environment and to the golf club, which can be realised.
To the environment:
- protection of global resources, including the efficient use and re-use of raw materials, energy and water
- reduction of pollution, thereby creating a pleasant local environment in which to live and play golf.
For the golf club:
- increased efficiency through cost and time savings
- elevated status and prestige through demonstrating an active commitment to improving environmental credentials
- enhanced staff motivation and job diversity
- meeting the environmental expectations of members and the general public.
Renewable energy project
At England Golf's National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa, a renewable energy project to demonstrate best practice project management is currently being carried out. This will not only give England Golf the opportunity to generate renewable energy income and savings, but it will also provide an important lead example for its affiliate clubs to follow.
At the 2011 England Golf/R&A Environmental Management Workshops, the concept of business sustainability through the use of renewable energy was presented to over 250 club officials who were in attendance at these events. From the clubs represented at the Workshops, 20 were selected to take part in the Greener Golf Project; this initiative will take the case study clubs to a position where they have a full information brief to assist them in making qualified project implementation decisions. On completion of the process, the clubs will have:
- surveys, specifications and quotations from appropriate third parties
- advice relating to the funding/financing options for renewable energy installations
- a report on performance comparisons for installation options and clear recommendations in relation to their management aims
- advice and services relating to planning and other permissions
- detailed design and tender documentation
- template construction/installation agreements with registered installers.
For those clubs that install renewable energy technology, England Golf will monitor the savings both environmentally and financially through the England Golf/R&A Carbon Calculator, and this information will be made available to all clubs through the Greener Golf website.
England Golf Environmental Advisory Service
In conjunction with the new Greener Golf website, England Golf has been involved in a number of other projects and initiatives aimed at improving the environmental credentials of English golf clubs.
The English Golf Environmental Advisory Service (EGEAS) was a joint initiative between England Golf, Natural England, STRI’s Ecology and Environment Unit and with support from The R&A. The scheme, which ran from 2002 and closed in 2010, had two key objectives:
- to raise awareness of the benefits of good environmental and ecological practices to affiliate clubs
- to demonstrate and communicate to central and local government, plus the community around the golf course, that golf is a responsible land user, resulting in wildlife enhancement that in turn benefits individuals’ wellbeing.
The service operated through clubs receiving an independent consultancy visit during which ecological highlights of the site were identified, together with recommendations on how they could be managed more effectively and improved. Following the visit, clubs received a report which detailed the discussions held on site and set the club a series of realistic targets, the progress of which would be reviewed 18 months later during the second follow-up visit. If, upon this second visit, a significant amount of the target work had been completed, the club would receive a certification under the scheme in recognition of their achievement and dedication to ecological management. Awards were only made if over 70% of the work set out had been carried out.
Over the duration of the EGEAS’s lifespan, some 220 golf clubs benefitted from heavily subsidised ecological and environmental advice and 75% of these received certification; an achievement which has played a key role in progressing the environmental agenda amongst English golf clubs.
Education, support and research
England Golf provide an online Carbon Calculator which has been produced as part of a project operated jointly by The R&A, England Golf and the Golf Union of Wales. The Carbon Calculator is available to any golf facility in the world wishing to assess the energy efficiency of its course and associated buildings. The tool is a quick and easy way of determining a golf club’s carbon footprint and, once complete, the resultant figure indicates the club’s baseline carbon footprint level which can be annually monitored and compared following the implementation of energy saving initiatives. The Carbon Calculator also provides a breakdown of the factors contributing to the carbon footprint, which, in turn, allows a club to develop a more tailored approach to becoming a more efficient and sustainable facility. More information about the Carbon Calculator is available here and you can begin using the tool here.
In conjunction with the Carbon Calculator, England Golf has also produced a comprehensive waste management toolkit, which is available here.
To communicate the growing body of information and tools available to English golf clubs to improve their environmental credentials, the England Golf Club Services team have held Environmental Management Workshops every year since 2002. These events, which have been supported by The R&A, provide an opportunity for club secretaries, course managers and other staff to keep up to date with the latest environmental and operational issues facing golf clubs.
As the largest European affiliate of The R&A, England Golf is working with enthusiasm and commitment to progress the uptake of environmental principles into the management of English golf clubs. Through demonstrating the benefits that sustainable facility management policies can deliver, England Golf is succeeding in encouraging a growing number of decision makers at English golf clubs to further integrate the environment into their management approach.
England Golf also has a seat on the management group of Sustainability in Sport (SIS), along with other National Governing Bodies including The Football Association (FA), The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).
The remit of SIS is:
- to review as broad a sample of sports clubs, venues and governing bodies as possible, in order to provide an overview of the current level of sustainability in the sport sector
- to gather information on attitudes towards sustainability and understandings of sustainable development issues, while also examining what action is already being taken
- to obtain some basic benchmarking information (e.g. annual energy use, water use, and waste disposal tonnage). This information would provide a baseline against which future improvements in sustainability performance can be compared with
- to prioritise issues needing to be addressed and to focus the activities of the group accordingly.
It is, therefore, evident that England Golf is undertaking a wide range of engagements, project support and initiative leading activities to enhance the uptake of environmental issues in the English golf club sector.
England Golf has launched a dedicated new environment website, Greener Golf.
Information on water feature management was just one of the areas covered by the EGEAS.
Grassland management is another key topic for many golf clubs in England.
The 11th green of The Hotchkin Course at England Golf HQ, Woodhall Spa.
The well protected 5th green of The Hotchkin Course.