The importance of setting up an environmental management system at your golf club

Tony Hanson
By Tony Hanson February 10, 2016 23:50

Golf Environment Organisation sustainability associate Tony Hanson explains why an environmental management system is not just good for the planet – it could also prevent your golf club from suffering from legal claims

Many of you will have an environmental management system (EMS) in place already and many have documents and plans in place but may not have it formally arranged as an EMS.

So what is an EMS?

In simple terms it is a system that identifies, qualifies, reviews and improves:

• The management structure and resources that should be involved in your EMS

• Areas and operations

• Risk assessments of the processes undertaken throughout your business

• The details of your practices and methods of operation

• The potential risks to the environment from the operations

• And it puts a plan in place to reduce potential environmental impacts

• And provides a continual reassessment of the EMS to seek to improve all aspects through operational experience, training and advice.

The benefit of this systematic approach will help you to ensure legal compliance, primarily relating to the higher risk elements of operations including chemical, oils and fuel storage that could clearly have a dramatic effect on the wider environment. In addition to the environmental damage, legislative breaches may lead to fines that could put you out of business and potentially result in prison for committee members! 

Clearly there will be some areas which are more complex and subject to much more stringent environmental legislation including course maintenance operations have the potential to affect the wider environment in the event of a spill. Without the correct precautions in place a spill can very quickly result in contamination of ground water and soils with significant clean up costs.


This should not detract from wider environmental issues within the clubhouse and catering sectors where cooking oils have to be stored and disposed of safely and without the loss to the wider environment. This can be an area overlooked because vegetable oil appear to be less hazardous than mineral oils, but requirements on the handling and storage on the same.

For an environmental management system to be successful it will be necessary to involve every sector of the golf club to ensure that all aspects of the operation fall within the system.

Because of this wide ranging scope it is vital that the programme receives backing from the management /owners. Initially in may be sufficient to include an environmental aspect to the of the general management meetings to allow a discussion and input from each management department. The complexity will require the establishment of a well-structured environmental committee (EC).

As an overview, the EMS committee suggested representation includes:

Chair – senior Committee (vice captain) or management with director position.

This is a key position in so far as this is the link position between the decision makers and the representatives of the organisation making up the EC.

At a private members’ club this role may be suited to vice captain or immediate past captain. For a proprietary club it could be the owner, or owner’s site representative / manager.

It is important that this role is taken by someone with knowledge of the ambition and finance of the facility. This will prevent time and effort being expended on discussions, or projects, that will not be accepted or approved at a higher management level.


Management – secretary / manager if not fulfilling the role as chair

Health and safety lead – if not already a role fulfilled within this list

House – private members’ club or proprietary club

Green – private members’ club or proprietary club



Community – if possible

Co-opted specialists as required.

Prior to a first meeting it is useful to define the terms of reference for the EC in terms of scope, it should be remembered that most environmental projects resulting from management and behaviour change are cash positive.

Meeting frequency need not be overly onerous, it is not intended to have meetings about meetings but to identify opportunities and design and implement projects that will achieve a definite result.

In summary it is not a case of whether you can afford to have an EMS, it is more accurate to say can you afford not to!

If you want to establish an EMS, Environmental Solution International has developed a bespoke and easy to implement EMS for the golf industry.

For more information please contact: Tony Hanson MBIFM, AIEMA and Golf Environment Organization sustainability associate, Environmental Solutions International, Tel: 07786 435 010, email:


Tony Hanson
By Tony Hanson February 10, 2016 23:50
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1 Comment

  1. Gisele February 6, 13:24

    Hello! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs
    up for your great information you have on GCM.

    Reply to this comment
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