By Lew Blaustein
Golf is a sport with unique environmental challenges and opportunities as compared to most others due, in large part, to its close relationship with landscapes, ecology and the natural environment. GreenSportsBlog has been chronicling the efforts, especially in the US, to green the game from tee to, well, green (click here, here and here for examples). Now we turn our attention to the work of the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), the international non-profit that is entirely dedicated to advancement of sustainability in the sport around the world. We spoke with its CEO, Jonathan Smith, about GEO’s programs, which aim to conserve nature and resources and help maximize the positive social and environmental impacts of golf around the world.
GreenSportsBlog: Jonathan, you are a rarity—a true Green-Sports veteran—having been involved since 1996, well before I was even aware of Green-Sports’ existence!
Jonathan Smith: Yes, when you put it that way, I guess I am a bit of a graybeard. I have always loved and participated in sport, playing golf, rugby, cricket and football (soccer) from a young age. I relish the teamwork and tests sport brings, which now feel very relevant to addressing the global sustainability challenges we all face.
GSB: And you come from the Home of Golf, Scotland.
JS: Indeed, and growing up in Scotland it was hard not to get into golf! And I guess to some extent golf played a part in attracting me to University of St. Andrews where I studied Geography. From there I enjoyed summers working at The Open, before moving into environmental management – with a large private landowner and government agencies. I then jumped at the opportunity to combine two great passions when the Scottish Golf Union became the first in Europe to employ a full time Environmental Manager in 1996.