Sustainable development roadmap


Sean Dudley

The team working on the Golf Environmental Organisation’s new suite of sustainability guidelines for golf developments met this week at the head office of exclusive corporate sponsor Ransomes Jacobsen.

The project is being delivered in partnership with the R&A, the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, the European Golf Course Owners Association and the European Tour.

The guidance, which aims to set out a new and more sustainable model for golf facility planning, design and construction, is now midway though completion, with all major chapters of the guidance drafted by the team of technical experts. Collation and editing of content is being overseen by environmental scientist and golf architect Mike Wood.

The authors are a range of international specialists, covering the priority environmental issues of the modern day. They are global energy company Ecofys, Irish ecologist Conor Kretsch, Italian agronomist Dr Paolo Croce, former UK government wildlife agency chief scientist Dr Keith Duff, and landscape and cultural heritage expert Professor Ole Romer Sandberg. Golf architect Jeremy Pern represents EIGCA, charged with ensuring the whole project is bedded into the real world practicalities of golf development.

Golf Environment Organisation CEO Jonathan Smith said: “We are already starting to see the guidance take shape. The contributions from technical consultants are drilling down to key issues and presenting both common sense and innovative ideas. We believe that developers and architects who integrate this guidance into their projects will be able to realise golf developments that are appropriate for their context, resource efficient, ecologically rich, stunning golf landscapes. They will ultimately produce facilities that will be highly regarded as social, economic and environmental assets, with courses that people will want to come back and play time and time again.”

Ransomes Jacobsen MD David Withers added: “We are delighted to be at the heart of this project, and to host this expert group at our international headquarters. It is great to see the guidance taking shape, and the timing is very pertinent. With real financial pressure on golf development these guidelines offer some fantastic new ideas on ways to improve the security and return on investment, reduce long-term operational costs and, crucially, increase asset value.”

Steve Isaac, director of golf course management at the R&A, said: “We believe this guidance is very much needed, and that the principles and processes embedded represent the way forward for golf development. It is particularly important to us that the guidance helps to stimulate a mixed provision of golf around the world – helping to realise the great diversity of golf – all of which can deliver different forms of social, economic and environmental value.”

A final draft is anticipated to be ready for consultation in September. Regional launch events are being planned for key regions across Europe early in 2010.