This environment programme was initiated in 2005 by the German Golf Association (DGV). It provides a practical management toolkit for golf courses, focussing on:
- Nature and landscape
- Maintenance and playing quality
- Health and safety
- Communication and infrastructure
The strength of Golf & Natur comes from the manner in which it was conceptualised and the support of golf and non-golf organisations who are committed to sustainable golf. Critically, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) in Germany was on board from the very start and they helped put the criteria for the scheme together, bringing immediate political credibility.
Oldenburgischer Golfclub with their Silver Award
The German Greenkeepers Association (GVD) and the Golf Management Association of Germany (GMVD) support the scheme, which gives a high profile for ‘Golf & Natur’ amongst the very people who will be responsible for implementing and recording the practices necessary to achieve the award.
The German Society for Certification of Management Systems (DQS) provides the independent verification of applicants, another crucial feature for any credible certification programme. Additional scientific support is provided by the grass specialist at the University of Hohenheim.
The programme seeks to unite the interests of golf and the environment through facilitating the development of a secure environmental and economic future for golf clubs. The objective is to conserve and enhance the natural environment while simultaneously developing optimal playing conditions for golf.
The ‘Golf & Natur’ programme is operated as a five-stage process:
1) Free registration
2) A survey conducted according to the criteria of nature and landscape, maintenance and playing quality, health and safety, and communication and infrastructure
3) The establishment of a development plan which outlines priority targets for each of the four criteria
4) Implementation through actioning the recommendations specified in the development plan. If required, assistance is offered through the DGV’s agronomic and environmental consultants
5) Review and certification. DQS act as professional external auditors to certify the achievement of required standards; their involvement helping to bring credibility to the programme.
Upon achieving agreed standards, golf clubs are presented with a certificate of achievement which is valid for 2 years from the date of issue. There are three levels of award; bronze, silver and gold. Across Germany, there are currently 117 participating facilities with a total of 43 gold, 28 silver and 46 bronze certificates.
The DGV provides financial assistance in the early stages of the certification process in order to encourage more clubs to move forward in the programme.
Across Germany, there are currently 117 participating facilities with a total of 43 gold, 28 silver and 46 bronze certificates.
‘Golf & Natur’ was one of the winners in a 2011 nationwide competition ‘365 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas’, which aims to raise public awareness of outstanding German ideas and projects, while providing a platform to promote them. ‘Germany – Land of Ideas’ is a nation-branding initiative, run in cooperation with Deutsche Bank, to reward ideas and projects that make a lasting contribution to Germany’s future viability. Each of the winning ‘Landmarks’ will organise a regional event to present its projects to the public. ‘Golf & Natur’ was selected as a winner by an independent jury, consisting of scientists, business managers, journalists and politicians, from approximately 2,600 individual applications.