The golf courses receiving environmental recognition

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick November 2, 2023 11:38

A number of leading golf courses around the world have achieved environmental accreditation in recent weeks. Here, we look at some of those clubs, the programmes they have embarked on and the sustainability measures they have brought in.

September’s Solheim Cup wasn’t just a display of the best the women’s game has to offer to the world, it was also an opportunity for the game to highlight its environmental credentials.

This is because Finca Cortesin in Spain, the host venue, this year achieved the GEO Certified® label for sustainable golf.

GEO Certified is a comprehensive modern certification to help golf facilities, developments and tournaments demonstrate and be recognised for their environmental and social responsibility.

Employing a combination of cultural and mechanical practices, the Finca Cortesin maintains resilient playing surfaces, capable of withstanding droughts and diseases, having installed Bermudagrass on the greens in 2016. This has since helped the resort to reduce on-course water consumption by 30 percent.

Finca Cortesin

Pioneering water management practices have also become a hallmark of Finca Cortesin’s commitment to environmental stewardship. By using 100 percent recycled water from the nearby village of Manilva, the resort was awarded ACOSOL’s seal of quality for recycled water management in May 2022.

Suzann Pettersen, European Solheim Cup team captain said: “It is so important that golf’s major venues and events are leading sustainability efforts to reduce negative impacts and maximise positives for the environment and communities. Personally, I recognise the role golfers and golfing events play so to see Finca Cortesin being recognised at the forefront of action and providing solutions to these, and other related issues is the right thing to do, very encouraging and setting a great example for other future Solheim Cup venues.”

This year has also seen the Hero Dubai Desert Classic (HDDC) become the first golf event in the Middle East and first within the DP World Tour Rolex Series to achieve GEO Certified® Tournament status.

The HDDC used solar power in its media centre, offered free water refill points to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles, used biofuel in temporary generators and planted three trees for each car that parked during the event.

Rory McIlroy plays his tee shot on the eighth hole during the completion of the second round on Day Three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at The Emirates Golf Club on January 28, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Andrew Lynch, head of sustainability for the European Tour group, said: “It is wonderful to see events across the DP World Tour schedule leaning into sustainability in this way. Making it integral to the way they are planned, staged and promoted. It aligns fully with our own Green Drive strategy, and leadership actions we are taking across our own operations and our owned and staged events. We encourage all of our valued tournament promoters to join the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in making their tournaments a true showcase for sustainability.”

Back in Spain, a new ‘Green 100’ listing that identifies the most environmentally conscious and socially responsible golf courses in Europe was published recently and Camiral Golf & Wellness (formerly PGA Catalunya) was recognised for its approach, commitment and understanding of how golf plays an integral part in the local landscape, supporting the proliferation of the natural ecosystem.

Also In association with GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf, the estate’s development of its large aquatic ecosystem, which hosts a number of insects, invertebrates and a rich multitude of species that had been in regression throughout the territory, was specifically highlighted as an exemplary accomplishment.

Camiral Golf & Wellness

Camiral Golf & Wellness was also applauded for delivering fantastic golf while caring for and nurturing its local biodiversity thanks to mosaic landscaping and ecological rewilding. New seasonal ponds for amphibians, biological corridors with good stream, tree and grass infrastructures to connect external ecosystems with the resort’s internal ponds, as well as breeding zones for the native turtle population, are some additional examples of how the European Tour Destination located just outside Girona is actively committed to the environment, climate and communities.

Meanwhile, Apes Hill Barbados, which overlooks the island’s west coast, has achieved Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf certification for its 18-hole championship golf course from Audubon International, also a global leader in environmental sustainability certifications.

The 18-hole championship golf course at Apes Hill Barbados was renovated and redesigned under the watchful eye of legendary course architect Ron Kirby, who sadly passed away this summer.

“Achieving Audubon International certification illuminates our sustainability commitment which is the foundation of everything we do here,” said Sunil Chatrani, executive chairman, Apes Hill Barbados. “We didn’t just build another green sustainable golf course; we’re building an eco-system rooted in responsible behaviour that puts our people, our wildlife and our planet first.”

Audubon International is a global leader for environmental and sustainability certifications. The organisation helps educate courses and staff to protect and preserve the natural environment and sustain their heritage sites, as well as recognising outstanding sustainability efforts that golf groups and courses are implementing.

Apes Hill Barbados

Audubon International commended Apes Hill Barbados for implementing irrigating exclusively with captured rainwater, reducing irrigation use, expanding acreage that requires less irrigation (mulch beds, drought tolerant vegetation, low maintenance vegetation), planting drought tolerant turf and vegetation, upgrading its irrigation system to improve efficiency and distribution, analysing weather data prior to irrigating, monitoring its irrigation system to ensure efficiency and distribution patterns, installing part-circle heads to help eliminate water from going on cart paths and / or native areas, improving soil and turf health by using proper cultural practices including mowing, irrigation, fertilisation and compaction management, reducing overall chemical inputs by expanding acreage not requiring chemical treatment, introducing a new variety of turf that is less susceptible to disease and applying slow-release and organic fertilisers.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, has achieved the same accolade from Audubon International.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

Owner VIYA Golf has announced that this will pave the way for its other golf clubs in Abu Dhabi – Yas Links and Yas Acres – to follow in its sustainable footsteps.

Corey Finn, golf course superintendent, Abu Dhabi Cluster at VIYA Golf, said, “We are delighted to have achieved the re-certification of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and this prestigious industry recognition. We’ve enjoyed working with Audubon and our stakeholders over the last few years and will continue to work on this project to preserve and enhance the natural habitat of Saadiyat Beach with their consultation. Thanks to all the team in Abu Dhabi for supporting this important initiative.”

Since opening in 2010, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has prioritised protecting and enhancing the natural wildlife and habitats in the area. The surrounding area is home to a number of animals such as humpback dolphins, hawksbill turtles and most famously mountain gazelles. In recent years, the club’s owners have implemented protection plans which have resulted in an increase of migrating birds and a growing population of mountain gazelles. Visits to Saadiyat Island are not only packaged as golf visits but entire golf and wildlife experiences and the club educates its members and visitors to be aware of and stop play for wildlife while enjoying the golf course.

Gaining this recognition and certification takes significant effort and commitment from management, agronomists, and the superintendents on site. Some examples of how Saadiyat Beach Golf Club satisfies these categories are reusing, recycling, and saving water onsite. The club has also created designated habitats on the course for animals and are working on an accelerated plan to become plastic free.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick November 2, 2023 11:38
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  1. FJDynamics November 7, 09:15

    so pretty and so chill

    Reply to this comment
  2. Muscarella November 3, 17:11

    “Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.” Dr. Rotella
    Gorgeous golf courses with environmental accreditation. Enjoy

    Reply to this comment
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