Verifier Common Questions

Verifiers for GEO 

Who are they?

Verifiers are highly qualified and experienced technical experts who are specialists in the field of sustainable golf.

They are accredited by the Golf Environment Organization to undertake third party, on-site, publicly reported verification visits for all applicants for the GEO Certified® ecolabels.

What qualifications and experience are required?

All verifiers carry at least one recognized academic and/or vocational qualification in an environmental or sustainability based field. These include:

  • Physical, biological and social sciences
  • Environmental Management Systems
  • Conservation and Countryside Management
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban and Land Planning
  • Resource Management
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Corporate Responsibility based business administration
  • Agronomy, irrigation and drainage
  • Golf Course Management / Architecture

They also must have at least 4 years practical experience in one of the following working environments:

  • Environmental and sustainability based consultancy / NGO / education and research institutions
  • Corporate responsibility based duties in business
  • Land management, including estate management, forestry and countryside protection
  • Government agencies with relevant environmental and sustainability focus

Is there a need for more verifiers? 

Currently there is a growing demand for verifiers as the number of golf courses globally participating in the GEO Certified programmes increases. We have a waiting list system in place, which allows us to receive applications at anytime. We are always interested to hear from enthusiastic and committed candidates to join the network.

How much work will there be?

The amount of work is dependent on the number of courses that participate in GEO Certified® programmes. GEO provides the network with information that will allow them to communicate the intentions and benefits of the programmes, therefore encouraging an increase in club participation. Currently there are over 1400 clubs in more 90 countries registered with GEO.

The Verifier Network

What does the network do?

Verification – evaluating the sustainability performance of golf facilities and developments

Support – helping golf clubs and golf industry professionals perform better

Advocacy – inspiring and motivating

Education – sharing knowledge

Third-party Verification

What is the verification process for GEO OnCourse?

Once the OnCourse report is complete, the club selects a local/regional verifier through the automated website process and the evaluation for GEO Certified® is arranged.

The verifier is granted ‘read’ access to the club’s report as the first part of evaluation. A written verification report will be produced and uploaded to the online template within the GEO website. This report will contain a recommendation for GEO to either:

  • Award the GEO Certified ecolabel
  • Assign a ‘Pending’ status to the golf club, if further efforts are required to meet the criteria.

GEO will make the final confirmation of GEO Certified®, publishing both reports on the website.

If a ‘Pending’ status is recommended by the verifier and accepted by GEO, the club will be expected to respond to the issues highlighted and address them through written and photographic evidence.

Are there any restrictions on verifying?

  • Verifiers must not verify a site that they have advised in the previous three years.
  • Verifiers must not verify a club that they have had ties to in the previous three years (membership, employment, board/committee involvement etc).
  • Verifiers should not verify the same golf facility on more than three consecutive occasions.
  • Sites that are determined to be “large scale and/or high sensitivity” may require the following: shadowing by another verifier; a second opinion by a second verifier; the verifier to undertake consultation with other local stakeholders.
  • Verifiers must be open with GEO and golf clubs about any conflicts of interest that they identify. They should discuss with GEO any potential conflicts of interest they might foresee.
  • Verifiers must be a legal entity or employed by one - i.e. a legally standing associate, corporation, partnership or individual that has the legal capacity to enter into agreements or contracts and be legally accountable for activities.

Support

What types of support can the network provide?

  • General - broad general knowledge of sustainability issues, which can help improve decision making, professional development and increase understanding of sustainability issues within golf.
  • Planning – develop comprehensive environmental and sustainability management plans, policies and proposals for management activities of land and other resources.
  • Specific and Technical – the knowledge to oversee practical delivery of sustainability projects, according to their specific qualifications and experience.

How else can my golf club work with a verifier?

Verifiers are also able to provide on-site and online support services, including:

  • Technical – site visits, project design, habitat and vegetation identification and classifications etc.
  • Sustainability planning – team meetings, workshops, planning sessions, educational seminars. Contributing to staff CPD and motivation, identifying roles and responsibilities and empowering people.
  • Telephone – discuss reports and recommendations, to review and support progress and resolve obstacles.
  • Through your online account – golf clubs using the GEO OnCourse programme can grant ‘read’ and ‘write’ access for appointed individuals to directly input to their application.

Reporting & Costs

What does it cost to become a verifier?

Currently there are no costs involved in applying and joining the network. GEO may in future introduce a small annual subscription fee in respect of the work generated by GEO programmes.

What is in the Verification Reports?

Verification reports are based on a template created by GEO, to work concurrently alongside the OnCourse programme format and evaluation criteria. Concise, professional, quantified and robust reporting is a key strength of the Network.

  • Clear and succinct
  • Concise, detailed, and with specific observations
  • Referenced data that demonstrates quantifiable improvements in performance
  • Acknowledging any significant limiting factors
  • Noting future targets

What are the fees involved with verification?

GEO has developed a cost calculator taking into account different scales of golf facilities, currency exchange rates and local economies. This causes the guideline verification fee to vary from country to country.

Standard on-site verification of an 18-hole facility with clubhouse and maintenance facility is approximately €1200, $1500, £1000 (excluding expenses).

Fees are reviewed by GEO in consultation with verifiers every 2 years.

What are the fees involved with support and advisory work?

In order to maintain the highest standard of credibility and allow for the very site specific and varied nature of the work the individual fee is arranged directly between the two involved parties.

Accreditation

What are the different levels of verifier accreditation?

GEO OnCourse is the main level of accreditation. Certain highly experienced verifiers have the accreditation that allows them to evaluate GEO Legacy applications. When appropriate an individual may be invited to apply for the Legacy verifier accreditation.

Do the levels of accreditation also apply to support services?

The support services that can be provided are not directly bound to their level of accreditation. There are many verifiers with the GEO OnCourse accreditation that are also able to play a highly valuable role in supporting golf development teams.

Are verifiers employees of GEO?

No. Verifiers are independent sustainability experts accredited by GEO to undertake evaluations for the GEO Certified® ecolabel.

What details can be found in verifier profiles?

All verifier profiles can be easily located on the GEO website: http://www.golfenvironment.org/about/support_network 

Joining the Network

How can I achieve the verifier accreditation?

An official application can be made here: http://www.golfenvironment.org/get_involved/support_network

On meeting eligibility requirements, applicants will be placed on the candidate list and an online interview will be arranged with a member of the GEO team.

Applicants that have been approved as candidates will be invited to undertake online training and accreditation, which will be assessed by GEO.

A secondary discussion will take place online to review the training and accreditation process before successfully joining the network.

What happens if my application is not accepted?

The applicant will receive a written letter explaining why they have not been successful and they will have the right to reapply after three months.

If the applicant is again unsuccessful they will have the right to a third party review of their application, which will be undertaken by a member of the GEO Technical Commission. An administration fee of €100 is required to be paid in advance of this review taking place. The opinion of the third party reviewer is final.

Applicants can then continue to apply to become candidates every six months, subject to the same third party review process.

GEO will constructively highlight deficiencies in qualifications or experience and support the applicant on how they can meet eligibility criteria in the future.

Do I have to be a member of a national / international auditing body?

No, but it is preferable if you are.

Do I have to be working full time in the golf industry?

Many verifiers do, but a number of them apply their sustainability expertise to wider industries and academic areas.

Can verifiers be employees of golf federations or industry associations?

Verifiers cannot be directly employed by a national golf federations or other golfing associations/governing bodies. However:

  • Verifiers can fulfill part time, consultancy based advisory / supporting roles with golf federations and other golfing bodies.

In such cases verifiers should be extremely careful not to verify any golf clubs they have supported or advised in the previous three years.