Swiss Golf is strongly promoting the topic of sustainability

Switzerland, often notorious as a country of prudence, has stepped on the gas. We are talking about the sustainability initiative that Swiss Golf committed to in 2018. Since then, just four years have passed, in which the Swiss have developed into one of the frontrunners in the European golf community in terms of sustainability. “We initiated and implemented a variety of projects,” sums up the President of Swiss Golf Reto Bieler with satisfaction. The public did not want to be accused of greenwashing when the sustainability goal was set for 2018. It should be backed up with documented initiatives. Since then, a clear program has been built up with a lot of systematic work as a pillar of the association’s work.

Golf Course 2030 as a vision

The basis for this is the Golf Course 2030 paper, which explains how “the course conditions and the playability of the Swiss golf courses are to be secured for present and future generations”. Swiss golfers have problems with climate change just like other golfing nations. “The lack of water is less of an issue for us here,” sums up Jan Driessens, who has been in charge of sustainability for the past four years. The mountain sites in particular are struggling with questions of erosion or heavy rainfall. Nature conservation issues are very important in Swiss construction projects, as is securing so-called crop rotation areas for agriculture. Here, as in many other European countries, golf is viewed critically by the public and the authorities.

“In the meantime, our position here has really improved,” sums up Bieler with satisfaction. “We are well integrated at Swiss Olympic and here, for example, it is recognized that we make a significant contribution to nature conservation, even compared to other sports. We are definitely listened to in the committees.” Cooperation with the circular economy hub at Swiss Recycling, Pusch or the Sempach ornithological station starts at points such as promoting biodiversity, waste separation or resource protection, where the golf courses themselves can be even better.

In the Swiss golf clubs, the issue of sustainability, which is promoted above all through certification with the British program GEO , has developed strong dynamics in the past two years. The program was signed in 2019, and all Swiss courses should be certified by 2027. 54 resorts have already committed to participate, which corresponds to more than 50 percent of all clubs. In terms of environmental certification, this achieves a significantly higher rate than England, France or even Germany.

Strong promotion of certification

This may also be due to the fact that Swiss Golf strongly supports the facilities in the GEO project. The association contributes a total of CHF 2,500 per system in two stages up to successful initial certification. In addition, the certificate must be confirmed in sections of three years and then only five years, as long as the plants document their projects. The golf clubs are supported by Alicia Moulin, a qualified agronomist who was hired by Swiss Golf to competently support the topic of sustainability.

The golfer’s life cycle assessment drawn up

Swiss Golf will have enough projects for the next few years: In addition to anchoring the GEO program across the board, which should ideally also include the certification of Swiss professional tournaments, Swiss Golf has already intensively examined the issue of the golfer’s ecological balance. As part of a study, the “ Life cycle assessment and eco-efficiency analysis (SEBI) for six GEO-certified Swiss Golf courses ” was examined and the environmental impact of the Swiss golf area was assessed. As part of this study, not only were the biggest sources of CO2 identified, but options for action for the golf courses were also recorded. Alicia Moulin and Jan Driessens agree that the issue of ecological balance and CO2 neutrality will continue to accompany Swiss golfers in the years to come. Especially since in Switzerland, just like in Germany or Austria, the majority of all systems are not close to the city and the topic of car mobility thus has a significant impact on CO2 emissions.