In their own words: Jim Croxton

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 13, 2018 14:48

The CEO of Europe’s biggest greenkeeping association, BIGGA, details the sustainability measures deployed by Open host Carnoustie

July is the month when the eyes of the golfing world turn to the UK. Hosting the Open this year is Carnoustie Golf Links, a venue that has had its share of controversy in the past, but one where the standard of course management and preparation has never been in doubt.

For the first time, the host of the Open is also the reigning ‘Environmental Golf Club of the Year’, Carnoustie having won the award at the STRI Golf Environment Awards at BTME in January.

Carnoustie – Championship Course

A common mistake made by those outside of the greenkeeping industry is to believe championship golf isn’t compatible with sustainability, but Carnoustie have proven that this isn’t the case. Some of the many environmental projects undertaken by Carnoustie include the planting of crocus bulbs and other flowers with local primary schools and botanical groups, and the encouragement of kidney vetch as part of the Small Blue Butterfly project.

Here at BIGGA we are proud to partner with the STRI in celebrating the work of the very many golf clubs that create outstanding playing surfaces while improving the environment in which they are located.

The Open Championship has become increasingly committed to its responsibility with regard to sustainability and ecology. GreenLinks is The R&A’s project that seeks to enact measures to reduce carbon emissions and improvements to make the hosting of the Open a more environmentally-friendly undertaking, and we at BIGGA support them in this aim as much as we are able.

BIGGA enlisted the services of a qualified ecologist three years ago to support our members. A former R&A scholar, James Hutchinson is recognised as one of the country’s leading experts in golf course ecology and sustainability and he is available to provide free advice to every BIGGA member, including conducting course visits and hosting educational workshops.


Jim Croxton

A hot topic at the moment is the development of the new Coul Links golf course, near Dornoch in Scotland. The proposed development, which received overwhelming local support, came under fire due to its location on a large Site of Specific Scientific Interest.

However, the message from the developers, and one that is reflective of the wider industry, is that modern day golf courses have incredible environmental credentials. Whether driven by a personal passion or due to economic pressures, a huge number of courses at all levels of the game are managing their sites with an eye towards sustainability. Often that means simple things such as putting up bird or bat boxes, but by changing the perception that every inch of a course needs to be perfectly manicured, they are instead allowing out of play areas to return to the wild, providing wildlife corridors and providing a haven for wildflowers. I’m pleased that the planners have recognised the environmental benefit the development will bring to the site, as the developers have committed to sympathetically enhancing the whole SSSI.

Sustainability isn’t just about life out on the course, and schemes such as the recycling of water, installation of solar panels and efforts to reduce waste are all contributing to the sense of environmental responsibility felt by golf clubs. With wastewater recycling or solar panels there can be a significant upfront cost, but the savings in the long-run are often huge.

Greenkeepers are usually at the vanguard of golf club sustainability issues, but are at their most effective supported by the club management structure.

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Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 13, 2018 14:48
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