Delivering a keynote address at an Asian Golf Industry Federation-organised Club Management Mini Summit, Jonathan Smith, Founder and Executive Director of the not-for-profit Golf Environment Organisation (GEO), said that golf can be a leader in sustainable sport and business, universally valued for its positive role for nature and people.
Staged at Sentosa Golf Club during the SMBC Singapore Open, Sustainable Practices in the Club Industry was the theme at the Summit which attracted more than 40 influential individuals from the regional golfing industry.
Smith, whose 20-year career in golf and sustainability has spanned strategic planning, development of internationally accessible tools and solutions and grass-roots advisory, outlined how sustainability is becoming integral to successful and profitable businesses, consumer expectations and government policies and regulations.
Using a range of real world examples, Smith highlighted how much value individual golf facilities could gain from being proactive leaders in their communities, and how their work to foster nature, conserve resources and support communities could benefit the bottom line.
He also described the significant upgrades made to the on-line OnCourse programme for sustainable golf facility management, including how it helps club and course managers to review, plan, track and promote their best practices, key data and highlights across course, clubhouse and maintenance facility operations.
Smith, who acknowledged the support of long-standing strategic partner The R&A, as well as other valued partners, the Vidauban Foundation, Toro, Textron Golf and Rain Bird and the Asian Golf Industry Federation, said: “In so many ways, from eco-system services and conservation of wildlife, to health and well-being for all ages, volunteering, outreach, jobs and supply chains, golf is good for nature and communities.
“Now, as regulation threatens, as resource costs increase, as communities and consumers expect more, and as new financial incentives emerge, it makes every sense for golf facilities to explore their practices and look for new ways to increase value and reduce costs. There really isn’t anything in sustainability that isn’t good for golf businesses.
“As an organisation founded to help golf step forward as a proactive and valued leader in sustainability, we are very pleased to see the new OnCourse programme being utilised by grass-roots facilities as well as national golf associations. It is particularly exciting to work in close partnership with associations who are seeking to present a custom-built member service to clubs, as well as being able to quickly demonstrate credibility, data and results to governments and the public.”
Backing up Smith’s assertions, Golf Course Agronomy Consultant Chris Gray delivered a case study on Suzhou’s Jinji Lake Golf Club, one of the first China clubs to receive GEO-certification.
To conclude the Summit, Smith and Gray participated in a panel discussion that also featured Andrew Johnston, General Manager and Director of Agronomy at Sentosa Golf Club, and Patrick Feizal Joyce, Vice President Golf – Asia at Lagardère Sports, a Full Business Member of the AGIF.
The panel session was moderated by Spencer Robinson, the AGIF’s Chief Communications Officer.
Eric Lynge, the AGIF’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Jonathan and GEO are globally recognised as being among the leading not-for-profit advisors on environmental and sustainable practices for golf courses and clubs at all stages of development.
“We were delighted that Jonathan could be with us to discuss environmental protection and sustainable practices, which are key issues that the golf industry in Singapore and Asia would be well served to learn more about and commence implementation to protect the environment which clubs occupy.
“As Jonathan and Chris outlined in their presentations, sustainable practice guidelines are available and do not have to involve incremental financing to implement.”
The Mini Summit was sponsored by AGIF Executive Members Club Car, Rain Bird and Toro and supported by the Singapore Golf Association, the Club Managers Association of Singapore, Sentosa Golf Club and Lagardère Sports.