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RBC Heritage Earns Top Sustainability Distinction

GEO Foundation

2018.04.13.RBC Heritage-IMAGE

Image Source: GEO Foundation

The 49th annual tournament in 2017 collected a new accolade, becoming one of only a few front-running events to achieve golf’s new mark of sustainability, GEO Certified® Tournament.

Over the last few years, the event team has worked hard to follow-through on a commitment to lighten the overall environmental footprint of the tournament, while taking steps to protect and foster nature, conserve resources and engage and support the local community.

The certification body and independent verifiers recognized the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing for: waste management and diversion from landfill; staff and spectator education and engagement; carbon reduction through renewable energy and quality of carbon offsets; water conservation; and charitable and community outreach activities.

Other notable highlights include:

  • Extensive carbon tracking and offset, covering tournament operations, player and spectators – which resulted in 100% of the operational footprint offset.
  • Renewably generated electricity powered 100% of the tournament – saving enough fossil fuels to power thirteen South Carolina homes for an entire year.
  • Extensive waste-management communications with 100 signed bins plus Zero Waste stations staffed to raise spectator awareness and action.
  • Donation of unused food went to support local causes.
  • More than $38 million donated to local charities over 30 years.
  • Year-round sustainability, including use of recycled and treated effluent water for all irrigation.

The achievements of the tournament compliment other sustainable golf initiatives across the Hilton Head Island Destination, including:   the ‘Experience Green’ through leadership seminar series, also supported by RBC; the GEO Certification of the Sea Pines Resort, with all other golf facilities in the area either fully certified or OnCourse® and working toward for certification; Harbour Town Golf Links designation as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary; and receipt of the IAGTO Sustainable Golf Destinations award for international sustainability leadership in golf tourism.

Read the full story.

Can Golf Courses in Asia Meet the Challenge of Sustainability?

Climate Action

Photo Credit: Sentosa Golf Club

Photo Credit: Sentosa Golf Club

At a recent conference at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore, a small group of 40 individuals from the golfing community met to discuss the looming issue of how to make their sport sustainable.

Staged while the Singapore Open was taking place outside, presentations were held on the theme of ‘Sustainable Practices within the Club Industry’.

The task before them couldn’t be much greater, or daunting, given an estimated 6,000 golf courses exist across the continent, with many more in development.

It remains to be seen whether concerns of sustainability and the impacts of climate change have taken root within the industry. Eric Lynge, CEO, of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, recently told the South China Morning Post that “people in the golf industry here all know sustainability is a necessary aspect of good practice now, albeit mixed with a degree of trepidation”.

The Scottish-based Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) was in attendance at the Singapore ‘mini-summit’, and it is leading adviser on environmental practices within the sport. The foundation also provides certification to sustainable courses around the world.

Jonathan Smith, the foundation’s executive director said in a speech that “in so many ways, from eco-system services and conservation of wildlife, to health and well-being for all ages, volunteering, outreach, jobs and supply chains, golf is good for nature and communities”.

The GEO’s guidelines include criteria on appropriate course design, water conservation, soil management, and improving wildlife habitats, among others.

However, only four of China’s estimated 500 golf courses are fully certified within the GEO’s strict qualifications, with another 12 committed to a programme of improvements. Japan has none.

Mr Lynge illustrated the current problem as one of cost: “there’s an economic pressure on golf here, so the perception is still that sustainability is expensive, or that it would result in a deterioration of playing conditions. But those objections can be overcome”.

And while the PGA in America has also started to make inroads into sustainability, having recently released its first environmental impact report, the issue is one of urgency.

Another report from the Climate Coalition has highlighted how climate change is already threatening the future of the UK’s favourite sports, and golf was one of them.

It’s hoped that with the game growing in Asia, sustainability can be incorporated early on, rather than at the end. Smith commented during his talk in Singapore that “as regulation threatens, as resource costs increase, as communities and consumers expect more…it makes every sense for golf facilities to explore their practices and look for new ways to increase value and reduce costs”

“There really isn’t anything in sustainability that isn’t good for golf businesses”, he added.

View the full story here.

PGA of America Releases First-Ever Social Responsibility Report


Photo Credit: PGA

Photo Credit: PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – In its first-ever review of the long-term positive impact that Social Responsibility offers to the future of golf, the PGA of America has issued a comprehensive report—“The PGA and Its Members: Bringing Energy to the Game.”

The PGA recognizes the critical need to tell the story of the industry’s sustainability successes and challenges. With many young families and Millennials growing increasingly interested in companies that have a true social conscience, the report highlights success stories of how the PGA of America is achieving its strategic mission to “serve the Member and grow the game.” This is accomplished by reaching out to diverse audiences to expand participation; developing the workforce to reflect the demographics of our country; and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Developed with sustainability consultancy Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the report was spurred in part through a partnership with Constellation, the PGA’s Official Energy Provider and Sustainability Partner. The study is designed to attract future partnerships and talent that further the PGA and its mission, while showcasing best practices and case studies.

“Social responsibility is intrinsically linked to the success of the PGA of America and the entire golf industry,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “Golf has many wide-reaching positive impacts—from the jobs created in local communities to green space and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide to the significant philanthropic contributions our industry delivers to worthy causes. Our future relies on how well we can expand these initiatives to new audiences, while injecting new energy into the services we provide to our PGA Professionals, in order to grow the game worldwide.”

In developing the report, ERM conducted a sustainability assessment with PGA Professionals and nearly 30 key industry stakeholders* that defined six key priority areas to develop a long-term vision and strategy for sustainability within the PGA including:

  • Fostering Diversity & Inclusion
  • Engaging the Next Generation
  • Educating the Workforce of Tomorrow
  • Enhancing Lives through Golf
  • Growing the Game around the Globe
  • Improving our Environmental Footprint

As well, the PGA has joined the Green Sports Alliance, which leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where people live and play. The Alliance brings together venue operators, sports team executives and environmental scientists to exchange information about better practices and develop solutions to their environmental challenges that are cost-competitive and innovative. The information gathered is to gain a better understanding of how sporting events can be performed in an environmentally sensitive manner.

“Constellation is proud of the progress we’ve made in partnership with PGA of America in reducing the environmental footprint of the game of golf and raising awareness of responsible energy use among its Members,” said Joe Nigro, CEO of Constellation. “We congratulate them on this groundbreaking new report and look forward to continuing to work together toward a more sustainable future.”

To view “The PGA and Its Members: Bringing Energy to the Game” report, please visit PGAImpact.org.

*Study participants: PGA of America leadership, PGA Professionals, PGA Section Executive Directors, PGA partners, golf course management companies, United States Golf Association (USGA), Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG).