Eco-responsible golf

As an outdoor sport played in idyllic settings, golf exudes an image of respect for nature and for the environment... Yet golf and ecology do not always make for good stable-mates. Golf is unjustly felt to be a sport lacking in eco-responsibility. Now, though, there is growing awareness of the problem and initiatives are springing up in all directions. Explanation.

Moving towards eco-responsible golf courses...

To shrug off this poor reputation, some golf clubs are now claiming to be environment-friendly sites. Their idea is to preserve nature by using recycled water from purification plants rather than drinking water, by restricting the use of chemicals or by using bird droppings as fertilizer.

The Golf de Dinart in Brittany is one of the flagships for this new green wave. It claims to be environment-friendly and explains why on the club’s web-site: “Dinard Golf is located in a ‘sensitive natural area’. Rare species of animal and plant life have been identified. This is why we have taken the appropriate measures of protection that are fully compatible with the game of golf.” It adds: “Furthermore, the course is watered using recycled water. With this process, we no longer draw on ground water, the reserves of which are fragile and limited, but recycle water that in the past would have been dumped into the sea.

Many equipment manufacturers have followed suit and now propose environment-friendly products, tees made from biodegradable material and garments designed using recyclable materials, etc.

...and the Fédération Française de Golf setting an example...

To cope and deal with this disputed image, the Fédération française de golf is keen to set an example and communicates the work it carries out for the environment via its web-site under a heading entitled “Golf et environnement”. It has taken a certain number of measures, most notably a water charter signed in 2006 with the Ministries for Ecology and Sport. It guarantees the survival of courses, unless there be real shortages of drinking water, especially in times of drought. In return, club administrators have made a commitment to reduce the amount of watering and irrigation.

...with by the work achieved at the Golf National

The Golf National in association with the Museum of Natural History has drawn up an inventory of wild-life species (animal, fauna and flora) making their habitat on golf courses. The list gives no fewer than 782 species! It also emerged that the Golf National acts as a refuge for certain species and plays a role in terms of local ecological continuity. The course’s location on the edge of an intensive farming area and urban zone constitutes a gain in terms of biodiversity and confirms the site’s positive role for biodiversity.

Using these documents, teams from the Golf National and the museum were able to agree on a certain number of actions to promote biodiversity such as later cutting of long grass to leave plant species the time to grow and seed, no grass cuttings to be dumped in ponds or lakes (this practice was suspended in May 2008) but turned into compost, no clearing of undergrowth in wooded areas outside the playing areas, diversification of water hazard banks, careful selection of fish species...

The Golf National, which hosts the French Open and hopes to organise the Ryder Cup, has today taken on a new look and there is no doubt that in the future we will all have a new and “greener” view of the water hazards, rough and undergrowth...

The growing awareness of the need to protect the environment is beginning to bear fruit. Watch this space.