Muirfield, home to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, has recently joined all of the other Open venues in Scotland in achieving GEO Certified®, the global ecolabel for golf. The Royal St George’s Golf Club has become the first Open venue in England to be awarded this accolade. The certification is administered and assured by GEO (Golf Environment Organization), the not-for-profit group dedicated to sustainability in the golf industry. The standard is independently verified and publicly reported, making it the most credible and significant ecolabel in the world for golf courses.
Golf has been played since 1891 at Muirfield, which has hosted The Open on 16 occasions, the last being staged there in 2013. The golf course at Muirfield is 80 hectares in area and the club’s staff also manage 90 hectares of SSSI designated land.
Stuart Rennie, independent accredited verifier for GEO reported the following highlights from Muirfield’s sustainability activities:
- the promotion of sustainable grass species of local provenance which require less water consumption and pesticide and fertiliser application
- an overall increase in well managed grassland habitat which has enhanced birdlife and grassland biodiversity.
- continual work with external consultants with regards to landscape and habitat expertise allows for continual review and assessment.
- generally, Muirfield champions an environmental and sustainable way of thinking across the board.
The Open was last held at Royal St George’s in 2011, with the Club having hosted the championship on 13 other occasions. The course at Royal St George’s is situated in a landscape of high conservation value with multiple designations and diverse species of flora and fauna, many rare and unique to the area. These are carefully looked after by the greenstaff and the GEO Certified® accolade recognises this environmental stewardship plus a commitment by the Club to resource efficiency and community value.
Some of the highlights of the Royal St George’s sustainability achievements reported on by their GEO accredited independent verifier, Bob Taylor, include:
- regular ecological, habitat and landscape surveys
- no phosphorous or potassium applications to turf in the past three years
- an approximate 20% reduction each year in applications of inorganic nitrogen since 2012
- provision of a herb garden within the club grounds which provides organic herbs for the clubhouse
- investment in modern, fuel efficient technology which resulted in a 50% reduction in diesel consumption between 2012 and 2014
- the formation of the St George’s Trust Fund to make charitable donations to local community groups in need of support.
An ongoing commitment to sustainable operations is evident at Royal St George’s, with a 30-year plan to upgrade and improve facilities in an efficient, environmentally beneficial manner. Also looking to the future, plans have been approved for the construction of an irrigation reservoir, which will provide a self-sufficient supply of water for the course while also creating new wetland and open water habitats.
The certification and verification reports for both Muirfield and Royal St George’s can be found at www.golfenvironment.org