GEO Symposium Aims for the Green

Tuesday 14 June 2011

GEO recently brought together leading decision makers from European golfing nations, to share their insight and experiences of promoting sustainability in golf.

Collectively representing 2.25 million golfers from 2,800 European golf clubs, over 45 national Federation and pan-European representatives explored strategic challenges and opportunities, and discussed how their individual approaches could come together as a common expression of commitment and achievement.

The symposium was hosted by the Nederlandse Golf Federatie (NGF), governing body for the amateur game in Holland, and one of the most environmentally committed federations in European Golf.

Facilitating the day, GEO Chief Executive Jonathan Smith said:

“Golf has been driving decades of research, education, guidance and awareness raising, and many of the federations represented in Amsterdam have been leading the way in planning and implementing such environmental initiatives.

“GEO believes that by sharing and publicly connecting those national initiatives, we can all help to raise the profile and increase the influence of golf’s efforts. In the context of all that national action, we were also excited to see evidence of how a high quality international ecolabel for sustainable golf can amplify the efforts of all participants and partners.

“Working closely with our Golf Federation Partners, and international supporters such as The R&A and The European Tour, we believe a formula is in place for diverse people and organisations to effectively and efficiently collaborate, and ultimately to demonstrate credible, measurable sustainability results that are directly linked to the success of golf businesses.”

Also present at the Symposium were leaders of pan-European industry groups including The Professional Golfers Associations of Europe, The European Golf Course Owners Association, The European Tour Group, The Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers Associations, The Club Managers Association of Europe, and The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.

R&A representatives contributed to discussions, reinforcing their vision for sustainability in golf, and support for collaborative partnerships between GEO and national golf federations.

Reflecting on the positive outcomes from the event, Ian Randell, Chief Executive of the PGAs of Europe added: “It was an extremely informative event and some of the golf federation leadership was inspiring. The event highlighted that, whoever you are in golf there is a role and a reward in environmental stewardship and social responsibility. We want to see more of our members bring this into their decision-making and their interface with golfers. We are encouraging them to become advocates for action and active players during their facilities’ participation in GEO’s certification programmes.”

Jorgen Kjellgren, the new President of the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) was in attendance: “For club managers, sustainability is all about achieving profitable, resource efficient, ecologically rich, well publicised and highly regarded businesses - locally to internationally recognised. That’s a great and almost unique fit for golf clubs - where there are so many points of customer contact on environmental and ethical issues which can become part of the quality of the overall golfing and leisure experience. It’s great to see this appreciation coming together across so many diverse but shared interest groups in golf”.

Alfred Touber, Director of Golf Development for the Netherlands Golf Federation added: "The NGF has committed a great deal of time and investment to understanding and reducing the environmental footprint of golf in this country. In the space of twenty years the number of courses here has risen from 85 to 200, with the number of registered golfers increasing tenfold. In that time we’ve demonstrated to the Dutch people and the government that golf is not only a responsible custodian of land, in many cases the presence of golf does a great deal to protect and enhance biodiversity, while providing important recreational space.”

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