Surveys asking golfers what they consider to be important to their enjoyment of the sport always have the condition and playability of our golf courses at the top of the list. Any challenges to how greenkeepers operate, potentially resulting in a deterioration in the way they present golf courses, has to be of concern.
The R&A has identified climate change, resource constraints and regulation as the big three challenges we are going to face over the coming decades in this regard. The world is changing with increasing extreme weather events, reduced availability of natural, finite resources and regulatory controls placed on course managers in terms of their use of water and chemicals. We either adapt to these changes and build resiliency in our courses or the sport could be adversely impacted.
If we are not able to address the impact of climate change and the reduced availability of resources and regulation that limit the tools greenkeepers have to work with, such as water and pesticides, then golf courses could deteriorate to a point where many golfers simply feel that their enjoyment of the sport is diminished.
The R&A has been working with a wide range of industry stakeholders, including national associations, greenkeepers, club managers, PGA professionals, course owners, course architects, researchers, education providers and commercial suppliers to develop Golf Course 2030 – a programme of research, education and communication aimed at mitigating these challenges.
To date, these efforts have focussed mainly on Europe. Golf Course 2030 plans have been produced for Great Britain and Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Scandinavia, Singapore (the location of The R&A’s Asia-Pacific office) and Spain, with others nearing completion for France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Fourteen Research Projects
The key issues highlighted by affiliates and other stakeholders involved in the Golf Course 2030 process are relevant to much of the world. Water management, sustainable options for disease, pest and weed management, biodiversity, energy supply and conservation, waste management and labour all form the foundation of how golf courses are managed and how the industry faces up to the challenges that have been identified.
Fourteen research projects have received Golf Course 2030 grants from The R&A to investigate these key issues and the input from countries that have produced their own national Golf Course 2030 plans to build on this and develop cross border (possibly cross continent) research and education programmes will also be used to inform best practice. This will make the most of the funding resources available and reduce the likelihood of unnecessary duplication of work.
The expectation for Golf Course 2030 is that co-ordination across Europe will be achieved through 2021, followed by expansion to other parts of our jurisdiction. If this is of interest to you then please contact The R&A at GolfCourse2030@RandA.org
More information on the Golf Course 2030 initiative can be found here.
Information on Golf Course 2030 projects is available here.