The Golf Industry is owed an apology. For years the industry has suffered from the misconception that it is an elitist, environmentally damaging sport; one that is not willing to move with the times to minimise its environmental impact.

Given the long lasting nature of the criticisms aimed at golf it is clear that whilst opinions are unnervingly quick to be formed, they are notoriously difficult to dispel. In 2009, the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) will run the successor to the BIGGA Golf Environment Competition, the Golf Course Environment Awards. The Awards will build on the progress already made via an awards programme that everyone can get involved in and one that will recognise individuals for their efforts in addition to the Club as a whole. One of the main changes this year will be the introduction of a Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year Award. This will be presented to a greenkeeper (student through to course manager) who has demonstrated a particular aptitude and dedication towards conservation and landscape best practice management.

For more information about the awards visit golfenvironmentawards.com

Club members reading this may be thinking “what has this got to do with me?”.  The fact is however that the environment within which you play golf every week plays a greater part in your round than you realise. And, to maintain the environment in a good condition, and to ensure the continued success of the golf course as a viable business, the support of all concerned parties at the Club, including the membership, is crucial. The vision of a club that maximises  its potential by maintaining and enhancing every element of the course – playing surfaces, course strategy and the ‘out of play’ areas; whilst running efficiently and effectively as a business can become a reality if there is a unified approach from all of those concerned.

Change can be an unnerving word to many, but the change that is taking place, gradually, throughout the golf industry is without doubt an exciting and positive one. Golf clubs, just like other businesses, are realising the need to impart change – change that will make them stand out from the competition and make them as successful as possible, particularly through the current economic uncertainty.

The sport of golf is designed to be thought provoking. Strategic elements are incorporated into the course set-up to make the golfer think about shot placement and club selection. A wayward shot should be met with appropriate punishment. It is very disheartening for the golfer who plays the perfect drive if their playing partner plays a slice, but is still left with a similar second shot.

In addition to bunkers, strategic features may be well placed trees, sweeping rough grassland, water features, gorse and heather. These ‘natural’ strategic features are often linked to more significant areas of habitat further from the playing line, and this is how golf and nature overlap.  This is not an easy thing to achieve, but the number of clubs that have attained this harmonious transition between managed turf and natural habitat is increasing as awareness and enthusiasm builds.

For more information about the awards visit golfenvironmentawards.com.

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