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Keeping it Green

The game of golf holds a distinctive place in the Australian sporting landscape with its origins dating back to 1822 when Scottish settlers of the Tasmanian township of Bothwell first established Ratho Golf Links. Ratho is not only known as the oldest golf course in Australia, but the oldest golf course outside of Scotland. From these humble beginnings, the game grew rapidly in popularity, especially from the early 1900s onwards.

Today, golf is the highest participant sport in the country with over 8.2% of the population playing at least once per year, while as an industry it employs over 20,000 people, generating over $1.1 billion in club revenue each year (Australian Golf Industry Report, 2004). A major appeal for many who play the game is the setting of the golf course. Australia is well known as a golfing mecca with a plethora of world class golf courses which have inevitably been shaped by the surrounding landscape and accompanying harsh climatic conditions. As a result, our golf courses have a unique Australian character, with many set in a bushland location, dominated by indigenous flora and fauna.

The golf course and its surrounding environment is very much intertwined and can provide many positive environmental benefits. It is well known that golf courses preserve open spaces and remnant vegetation within urban environments while also providing valuable wildlife habitat. Many degraded sites have also been successfully rehabilitated by the establishment of a golf course, not to mention the potential for courses to act as carbon sinks. An often understated benefit is the sense of wellbeing experienced when out on the golf course. Not only is it a great form of exercise, but for many, the relaxing walk around the golf course and experiencing all its wonders is the major appeal. More so than the challenges of the game.

To counterbalance the many benefits of golf courses there are groups who argue that the construction and maintenance of golf courses present a number of environmental concerns, particularly in relation to the use of water, fertilisers and pesticides. The golf industry has been well aware of its environmental responsibilities for many years.  The Australian Golf Union in 1995 released a report entitled “Environmental Strategy for Australian Golf Courses”. The aims of the strategy were to identify issues, collect information and promote awareness of golf clubs as environmental assets and to develop national guidelines for the environmental management of golf courses.

In 1996 the Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association (AGCSA) also formally recognised the importance the environment plays in their members’ day-to-day activities by launching the AGCSA Claude Crockford Environmental Award. Named in honour of the former Royal Melbourne Golf Club greenkeeper, the award recognises excellence in golf course environmental management.

Moving forward from these initiatives, in 2005 the AGCSA, in conjunction with Golf Australia, launched the Australian Golf Environmental Initiative. The purpose and activities of the environmental initiative is to increase the environmental profile of Australian golf courses. A key part of the initiative is maintaining regular communication with those involved with golf and the wider community.

To meet this end the Ausytralian Golf Environmental Initative publishes a newsletter called Keeping it Green which provides a range of information and advice on environmental issues affecting golf courses, while also offering a forum for golf course personnel to communicate the environmental initiatives that are taking place at their golf course.

Keeping it Green is produced monthly and sent out in a PDF format. Regular features include:

  • Editorial news
  • Environmental updates
  • On course news
  • e-par updates, including case studies
  • Golf course regeneration and revegetation case studies
  • Contributions from the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects
  • Recent publications
  • Contributions on biodiversity, land management, water management and wildlife and habitat management
  • Research articles and updates
  • Contacts list

No doubt everyone would be aware of countless individuals within their club who are champions of their course environs, with many clubs having long established flora committees or a recognised ‘Friends of the Course' group. Keeping it Green would be delighted to hear of your club’s or company’s activities, or any other projects you have on the go. So if you think you have a story of interest, please drop us a line and a few photos.

For all editorial enquiries please contact AGCSA environmental agronomist John Geary
Email: jgeary@agcsa.com.au
Phone: (03) 9548 8600 or 0412 293 125

Click here to view the December 2009 edition of Keeping it Green

Click on the links below to view past editions of Keeping It Green
July 2012
October 2009
August 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
December 2008