Which environmental certificates are there for golf courses?

Pure image cultivation or real added value? What exactly is the point of a certificate, which examines sustainability aspects in golf? Questions that many golf course operators may ask themselves after environmental and sustainability issues are also becoming increasingly important in the golf business. In fact, to date there have been few surveys that deal with the value of the existing sustainability certificates in golf.

Regional differences in certificates

But at least: Both a study by the German University of Bayreuth, which examined the added value of the German Golf Association ’s “ Golf and Nature ” certificate, and a Swiss work by the author Mirjam Fassold entitled “Market advantages for golf courses with a green image”, have in dealt with the subject in recent years. While the Golf & Natur certificate is the market leader in Germany , the certification of the English GEO Foundation is widely used in Switzerland. Austria also decided to introduce GEO in 2022. In Germany, the golf course habitat is also offered in the three associations of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse , a certificate that deals exclusively with the topic of promoting biodiversity.

Pure image cultivation or economic advantages?
According to the Bayreuth study, the starting point is as follows: Golfers have a relatively high affinity for sustainability, and climate change affects golf throughout Europe. On the one hand, golf courses are increasingly forced to save resources such as water due to official requirements, but a positive image in terms of ecology is also important. In addition, there is an effort to increase the value of membership through sustainability certificates. After all, consumers in both Germany and Switzerland are willing to pay a higher price for organic products, for example. Under certain circumstances, so the conclusion, the proof of an environmentally friendly golf club management can also lead to economic advantages.
The majority of the 69 German courses that took part in the study by the University of Bayreuth were obviously convinced of the usefulness of the Golf & Nature certificate. “All in all, it can be stated that the Golf & Nature certificate creates added value in the ecological sector and – with restrictions – also in the economic sector, especially from the point of view of the certified courses. The certified clubs benefit not only in the area of environmental protection, but also in the area of management,” the author Prof. Christopher Huth sums up his experiences. The credibility of the golf courses in terms of sustainability increases through participation in the Golf & Nature program, working and playing conditions are improved in the long term.

There are these sustainability certificates:
Golf & Nature: The certificate from the German Golf Association aims to “improve the playing and working conditions on golf courses while at the same time protecting nature and resources as much as possible”. It is three tiered from Bronze to Golf.

Habitat Golf Course: The Habitat Golf Course certificate is the German entry level for the promotion of biodiversity. It is offered in the Bavarian state associations via the Bavarian Blühpakt, in Baden-Württemberg and in Hesse.
GEO (Golf Environment Organization) : The British non-professional organization has developed a two-tier certification system. In Europe it is the certificate with the widest distribution.
Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf (Audubon Society) : The certification of the Audubon Society is extremely widespread, especially in the USA .