The Golf Environment Organization released approximately two years ago a “Voluntary Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard”. It is focusing on 6 areas:
- Site Protection,
- Resource Management: Waste Diversion, Water, Energy & Carbon,
- Access and Equity,
- and Community Legacy.
The pilot project of “Voluntary Sustainable Golf Tournament Standard” was the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open (held February 2-5th, 2017).
The 2019 Solheim Cup – a sustainable tournament
Now, it is up to the organizers of the 2019 Solheim Cup to prove that they can exceed expectations of GEO and the environment conscious golf fans.
They will try to implement some of the Scottish Government priorities:
- Reduce the carbon footprint: Public transport, car sharing, using the efficient park and ride service, clean fuels and by engaging with local suppliers and contractors;
- Achieve ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’: Avoiding single-use materials, making sure all materials are separated for re-use and recycling;
- Conserve nationally and internationally important habitats by protecting the 19 designated areas on Gleneagles Estate and the rare and iconic Scottish wildlife. Key fauna includes the red squirrel (UK Priority Species) and otter. Curlew & oystercatcher nest on the PGA, with good habitat also for reed bunting & bullfinch.
- Promote sustainability to more people. Engaging in, and promoting green activities
The good news is that the plan is also supported by all event partners and stakeholders, including The Gleneagles Hotel, IMG, the Ladies European Tour, LPGA, Scottish Golf and the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.
What is missing?
For me, this is a little bit vague and I miss very much from the above-mentioned list:
- Sustainability training;
- How staff and volunteers will be assigned to oversee specific objectives;
- It is nice that they want to reduce carbon footprint. Why don’t they define precisely the reduction rate?
- Do they know what will be the major sources of energy consumption and carbon impacts? How they want to handle them??
- Where are the policies, and practices in place to protect the surrounding environment, wildlife, habitat areas, and other key ecosystem services throughout set-up, staging, and teardown phases of tournament operations?
- What kind of wildlife and ecosystem services will they implement to mitigate the negative environmental impact of the 2019 Solheim Cup tournament?
- Where is the list of accepted and prohibited materials + food packaging guidelines promote recyclable and compostable foodware?
- I am totally missing the access and equity from their plan. How will they make the event accessible to disadvantaged people for instance? Let’s not forget about their accommodation as well!
- Will they provide affordable tickets for locals?
- Will they have a ‘Support locals’ initiative?
Even if I were an average environment conscious golfer, I would be disappointed with what I found on the 2019 Solheim Cup website about their golf tournament sustainability efforts.
I hope I just overlooked those plans, policies, and services highlighted above.