The R&A - Working for Golf

Testing Facility Earns GEO Certification

The R&A’s testing facility based at Kingsbarns, incorporating Allan Robertson House and the surrounding environment, has earned another notable accolade.

The facility has been recognised for its outstanding work to fostering nature, conserving resources, taking climate action and strengthening communities after successfully achieving GEO (Golf Environment Organization) Certified® status.

GEO Certified® is the most respected sustainability certification for golf, based on a credibly and transparently developed modern standard of best practice.

Demonstrating leadership

It is achieved through GEO Foundation, the international non-profit organisation dedicated to helping golf deliver a positive impact for people and nature, working with golf industry associations, government and non-government organisations.

Having previously been recognised for design and GEO Development awards following its opening in May 2017, this new milestone for Allan Robertson House and its encompassing environment continues to demonstrate The R&A’s leadership in sustainability and encourage others to adopt GEO certification.

Situated in a rural, woodland location within Kingsbarns Golf Links on the Fife coast, Allan Robertson House is a world-class testing and research facility which brought the operations of the Equipment Standards department of The R&A under one roof, enabling the delivery of an enhanced service to golfers, manufacturers and affiliated organisations. 

Named after the great St Andrews’ golfer, the facility provides office space, meeting rooms and testing facilities, including outside golf areas featuring two par-3 length golf holes, bunkers, green complexes and teeing grounds.

Dedicated team effort

Wendy Cole, Manager – Sustainability at The R&A, said, “We joined the OnCourse® programme and provided three consecutive years of data across energy use, water use, biodiversity, woodland management, and community engagement, to demonstrate that we are maintaining the building and the outside area in a sustainable manner. When you have completed the third year, you can apply for GEO certification. 

“Certification is almost always the result of a dedicated team working together to achieve practical and valuable social and environmental results around a course, facility or clubhouse.”

Key areas of best practice at Allan Robertson House include:

  • The building incorporates a sedum (green) roof
  • Creation of a new pond with sustainable drainage system has allowed protected plants to be relocated
  • Water from the car park drains to the pond for filtration prior to being re-used for irrigation
  • Rainfall is collected from the driving range area, car park, roof and re-used for irrigation
  • Maintained turf minimised for the purposes of equipment testing
  • Intelligent species selection for tees, fairways and greens, alongside rough designed to facilitate ball location but with the maintenance of the penalty
  • Regular habitat and tree surveys
  • Core path protected and used by staff
  • The woodland is aided by resident pigs minimising ivy regrowth
  • An electric car charging port has been installed
  • Local authority takes care of all waste and recycling and provides guidance to the organisation
  • The building was designed to engage groups of visitors for educational purposes

Kingsbarns Golf Links neighbours the Allan Robertson House site and manages all turf areas and landscapes, with Kingsbarns itself a GEO Certified® facility.

Professor Steve Otto, Executive Director – Chief Technology Officer at The R&A, added, “We are holding ourselves to an international standard and we have been verified that we are doing it appropriately. 

“It is important for The R&A to work with GEO to show we can satisfy conditions when we are asking others to adhere to them. We are very conscious that it is two holes and a fairway rather than an 18-hole facility but gaining the certification has shown us how important it is and what you need to do to achieve it.”