St Andrews has become the first Open Championship venue to be formally recognised for its commitment to sustainable golf course management.
The GEO Certified™ ecolabel has been awarded to the St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the seven courses at the Home of Golf including the Old Course and The Castle Course, in recognition of its work in minimising its impact on the wider environment.
The trust has operated a sustainability programme for many years which was described by the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) as being “close to defining an ideal model for sustainable management.”
GEO, which is part funded by The R&A, is an international non-profit organisation, supported by stakeholders across the golf community to help build awareness and understanding, provide practical programmes and reward achievements with the GEO Certified ecolabel.
Steve Isaac, The R&A’s Director of Golf Course Management, said: “The sustainable development and management of golf courses is crucial to the future of the game.
“St Andrews Links Trust is leading by example and has shown how the right balance can be struck between playing performance, economic performance, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”
More than 250 golf clubs in 34 countries are now taking part in the GEO OnCourse™ programme to achieve the GEO Certified™ ecolabel. St Andrews Links becomes the 50th golf facility to achieve the distinction.
In the GEO verification report the assessor praised the Trust’s commitment to social responsibility and community engagement as well as the eco-friendly manner in which the clubhouses, retail outlets and other facilities are operated.
A special plaque was presented to Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust, by Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of the Golf Environment Organisation, with Peter Dawson, the Chief Executive of The R&A, and George O’Grady, the Chief Executive of The European Tour, in attendance.
Loudon said: “We take our duty to manage St Andrews Links sustainably as a golfing resource for future generations extremely seriously.
“Over the years we have won awards for the measures we have implemented and developed but this is certainly the most rigorous certification process we have gone through.
“We are delighted to achieve the GEO Certified™ ecolabel and we are focused on continuing to introduce new sustainable methods and practices across the breadth of operations at the Links in the years ahead.”