Carbon footprint: The most important facts for golf courses

The CO₂ footprint of athletes, sporting events and sports facility operators is increasingly becoming an issue. Golf is no exception. More and more golf courses worldwide are concerned with the question of what their CO₂ footprint looks like. Many golfers assume that due to the extremely large compensation areas of a golf course, the balance sheet should actually be positive.

Golf Sustainable summarizes the most important facts about the CO₂ footprint in golf in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

  • Accounting and reporting on the so-called corporate carbon footprint, i.e. the CO₂ footprint, is currently voluntary for companies. There are no mandatory specifications or uniform standards for calculation at the respective national level.
  • At the international level, the “Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard” and the “Corporate Value Chain Standard” of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) apply as standards.
  • These are divided into Scope 1, 2 and 3. Scope 1 includes the direct activities of a company, for example the vehicle fleet, company facilities and location. Scope 2 includes the indirect emissions from electricity, heat and steam that companies buy from utilities. Scope 3 includes the other indirect emissions in the supply chain, for example, the CO₂ footprint resulting from the production of a green mower. Scope 3 emissions do not necessarily have to be included in the calculation.
  • The calculation of the CO₂ footprint of golf events, rounds of golf or golf courses is currently based on different specifications, depending on the provider of the calculation. For example, the calculation in Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, is different from that in Germany. But even within Germany, the results of expert opinions or calculations are not 100 percent comparable if they come from different providers. That is why more and more sports are working on creating sport-specific CO₂ calculators that take into account the respective special features. One example is the CO₂ calculator for clubs that myclimate developed for swiss unihockey. In Germany, a golf calculator is currently available that the Bavarian Golf Association, together with the German Golf Association, also had developed by myclimate, a non-profit carbon offset organization.
  • There is currently no clear regulation as to how planting measures when building a golf course and the CO₂ binding of the plants are included in the CO₂ footprint. The same applies to the growth of shrubs or meadows and the build-up of humus in the operation of a golf course. While Swiss balance sheets positively include plants, this is not possible in Germany. Here, however, the positive effect of planting measures can be shown separately.
  • The journey of a golfer to the golf course can, but does not have to be taken into account. However, a sound calculation that does not want to be accused of greenwashing includes the mobility factor in its calculations.
  • The individual footprint of a golfer, which also includes the golf equipment, for example, is not included in the calculation of the course.
  • The mobility of all employees of a golf course as well as their business trips is taken into account.
  • The trips made by teams, caddies and their fans to a league game also count towards the CO₂ balance of a facility.

Conclusion for the golf course and the golf club

Everyone has the opportunity to have their footprint calculated. Comparability of the reports is only given to a very limited extent. In principle, however, such an appraisal can be used to get an overview of the CO₂ footprint and then to initiate initial measures to reduce the CO₂ footprint.