European Challenge Tour Montecchia Open
Two Italian golf clubs have recently celebrated their sustainability credentials with recognition from GEO (Golf Environment Organization). Golf della Montecchia recently earned GEO Certified - the most credible and widely endorsed international recognition for sustainability, and Golf Club La Pinetina achieved re-certification, three years after originally attaining golf’s ecolabel.
Golf della Montecchia has been at the forefront of environmental research into golf course management for fifteen years, working in partnership with several universities. The club received their GEO Certified certificate at a special ceremony during the recent Montecchia Golf Open, a European Challenge Tour event hosted at the club. The ceremony was attended by several members of the club, media, and the Federazione Italiana Golf, including FIG President, Franco Chimenti.
European Challenge Tour Director Alain de Soultrait was amongst the first to congratulate the clubs: “The excellent course conditions at Montecchia show that sustainability and playing quality can co-exist. As part of the new European Tour Green Drive initiative, we will be encouraging more venues to become GEO Certified in the years to come, following the example set at the Montecchia Open.”
Meanwhile, Golf Club La Pinetina, first awarded GEO Certified in 2010, is now re-certified, following more than a decade of significant environmental work, including the national programme Impegnati nel Verde (Committed to Green), EMAS certification, and a Lombardy regional award. La Pinetina demonstrates the important ‘continual improvement’ principle that makes sustainability business as usual rather than simply a one-time achievement.
Both northern Italian clubs have a long-term outlook on sustainability, notably evidenced in their pioneering move to warm season Bermuda grass, with Montecchia being the most northern site using this species in this transitional climate zone area of Europe. Bermuda grass is known for requiring lower inputs of fertiliser and pesticides, and tolerance of drought and high temperatures.
At Montecchia, the turfgrass conversion resulted in nearly 50% reduction in irrigation and pesticide applications, which is set to improve further once the turf is more established, and further again when introduced into other areas of the course. Bermuda grass has had a similar effect at La Pinetina, with a 32% reduction in irrigation achieved.
Paolo Croce, the GEO accredited independent verifier (GEOSA) who evaluated both courses, said:
“Golf Club La Pinetina and Golf della Montecchia are shining examples of golf clubs on the path of sustainability. The reduction in water and pesticide consumption is only one aspect of their commitment, alongside community value like Montecchia’s outstanding junior golf programme and restaurants buying locally and open to the public. Overall, their achievements can be an inspiration to all of Italian golf."
Sustainability efforts of Italian clubs are actively supported by Federazione Italiana Golf which offers various training courses around course construction and maintenance, conducts scientific research in partnership with many of Italy’s universities, recognition of outstanding work, and promotion of the OnCourse programme which leads to GEO Certified. The FIG offers a detailed section on their website devoted to the environment, plants and ecology.
Stefano Manca, Secretary Federazione Italiana Golf commented: “The FIG believes sustainability is an important consideration for all Italian golf clubs and we are dedicated to supporting them in their objectives to continually improve in this area. The GEO certified ecolabel is a great way for our clubs to be widely recognised for their commitment to sustainability and the simplicity of the OnCourse programme makes it even more attractive and attainable for any club looking to improve. We fully support it as a way to strengthen Italian golf as a whole.”
The Italian Golf Federation was founded in 1927 to promote, organize, control and regulate the sport of golf in Italy. Its member clubs are working to enhance and protect biodiversity and ecological functions, provide valuable recreational green spaces, conserve natural and economic resources, and to create jobs in local communities.
The Golf Environment Organization (GEO) is an international, stakeholder led, not-for-profit, that is entirely dedicated to the promotion of sustainability in and through golf.
GEO Certified, golf’s international ecolabel, recognizes comprehensive commitment and achievement around sustainability, and allows clubs to publicly and credibly promote their great golf environment.
The practical OnCourse program allows clubs to record and report the sustainability work they’re doing, improve where needed, and leads to becoming GEO Certified.