Greening the Green With GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf

Golf Course

According to the National Golf Foundation, there are around 39,000 golf courses located in 209 countries around the world. And, according to the GCSAA, an average 18-hole golf course covers 150 acres, with around 67% of that acreage maintained as turfgrass. That's a lot of land around the world, which the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf sees as an opportunity.

"The Decade of Ecosystem Restoration was launched by the UN on World Environment Day in June this year. To maintain and restore the ecological services on which we all depend (think: pollination, clean air, or water storage and supply), it is essential that managers of green spaces in urban and rural areas protect and expand natural habitats to the maximum possible. Fortunately for golf, this is a natural fit and is often a win-win, as enhancing nature can reduce costs, while enhancing the experience for golfers at all levels."

— Richard Holland, Director of Operations and Network Development, Wetlands International

The international nonprofit was founded 15 years ago "to help inspire, support and reward credible sustainability action and to strengthen and promote golf's social and environmental value." GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf collaborates with groups and people in and around golf to help strategize and recognize sustainable practices in golf. Online, the GEO Foundation provides programs, news, online events, sponsorship opportunities, carbon offsetting and more.


Recently, GEO Foundation and its partners have launched a range of new and updated resources that are designed to help golf embrace sustainability and climate action. This includes: launch of a website and community platform; launch of an upgraded knowledge sharing platform; announcement of Sustainable Golf Champions group, which includes high-profile and grassroots ambassadors; and more.

Along with its upgraded resources, GEO Foundation added a fourth pillar to golf's sustainability agenda. Building Climate Action joins the other three pillars, which include: Fostering Nature; Conserving Resources; and Strengthening Communities.

"The world is facing serious social, ecological and climate challenges, and there is a powerful sense of urgency to address these," said Jonathan Smith, founder and executive director of GEO Foundation. "The expectation is that everyone should play their part, from individuals to companies to entire sectors. A large, influential and high-profile global sport such as golf has a tremendous opportunity, and responsibility to step forward.

"Our future generations need golf to redouble its efforts to foster nature, conserve resources, strive for net-zero emissions and strengthen communities," he added. "The good news is that this is almost entirely a win-win for a land and community-based sport, where sustainability, great golf and vibrant business are synonymous."

The organization recently collaborated to create the second edition of the Sustainable Golf Development Standard, a simplified new edition that raises the bar on expectations while focusing on the most relevant issues and challenges in the current climate. The new edition emphasizes increased transparency, carbon impacts, flexible construction timelines, circular economy, and the impacts of agronomic decision-making.

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