St Andrews aims for GEO standards

St Andrews aims for GEO standards
Sean Dudley

St Andrews Links has become one of the first golf venues committed to achieving GEO Certification, the accreditation from the Golf Environment Organisation.

The Links has been recognised on several occasions in recent years including receiving the Overall Award at the Golf Course Environment Awards run by the Sports Turf Research Institute in October 2009.

The new accreditation programme aims to become the hallmark for sustainable golf and measures all aspects of a golf venue’s operations from the courses to clubhouses and greenkeeping facilities.

The Old Course will be one of the first links courses put forward for the programme and it is hoped that the accreditation will be in place by the time of the Open Championship in July.

Gordon Moir, director of greenkeeping at St Andrews, said: “We place a great deal of emphasis on managing the courses and facilities in as sustainable a fashion as possible. There is a long tradition of sensitive and sustainable management at the Links and, as the Home of Golf, we have a responsibility to take a lead in encouraging the golf industry to take these practices on board. This accreditation programme is an excellent way of ensuring golf courses adopt this approach in a structured way and we look forward to working with GEO.”

Several major environmental projects are currently being undertaken at the Links. A reedbed washdown area was recently established on the Jubilee Course, enabling water that has been used for washing machinery to be fed through two gravel beds planted with common reed. The reeds filter out the impurities, allowing clean water to be discharged to a soakaway.

Other projects include dune reinstatement work, an extensive grassland management programme and soft engineering work for coastal protection of the Jubilee course.

GEO chief executive Jonathan Smith said: “Decades of strong leadership and responsible, balanced decision making has positioned St Andrews Links at the forefront of sustainable golf. They have been walking the walk in both the management and development of the courses, clubhouses and maintenance facilities.”