Vision 2050: The future of golf is positive
2050 is the year I will celebrate my own anniversary: 60 years as a golfer. At the age of 84, I realize that golf courses have become shorter, and the length mania of the turn of the millennium with its exuberant consumption of resources has long since come to an end. However, the game has not become easier. The golf course architects now make up for the lack of length with tricky greens.
2050 is the year golf is celebrated as an outdoor sport in many areas of the world. The sport has changed completely, adapted to climate change. Looking back, it is clear that the start of this transformation was difficult. The golfer also does not like to change.
Golf is a chameleon
But in 2050, we recognize: Golf is a chameleon. It is adaptable. Its greatest weakness, being completely at the mercy of the climate and nature, is at the same time its greatest strength: even in Queen Mary’s day in Scotland, golf didn’t need much more than sandy soil, grass, wind, sun and rain. This sounds rudimentary when we think about how much technical effort, how much investment, how much construction material and water we spent on new golf courses in the last 50 years. 2050 we know – smaller areas, resource-saving construction and maintenance, the conversion of water management have made the sport economical again and, on top of that, ensured public acceptance. Sometimes less is more.
All’ these are positive assumptions for golf in 2050. The year in which the European Union and the USA aim to be climate-neutral. Looking at the daily reports of droughts or heavy rainfall, fires or unbearable heat, it may be difficult for some people to believe in such positive visions.
Get out of reaction mode
Anyone who follows the current discussions about the challenges in golf is confronted with acute crises in the operation of a golf course: Less water, no more pesticides, criticism of land use, plus floods, fires, tourists failing to show up. The responsible players, whether in the association or in the club, are often in permanent reaction mode in the face of these difficulties. Reflection then becomes difficult. For those, it takes time.
We understand Vision 2050 as an invitation to the golf industry to look into the future of golf; to develop a long-term picture of a sport that has learned from its long history, reflects on its strengths, internalizes new technologies and scientific results. By the way, this goes far beyond the announcement of being climate neutral in 2050 – whether as a club, association or event. What matters far more than this announcement are long-term strategies.
Climate change will pose significant challenges for golf by 2100 with global warming at two degrees, with many a golf hotspot such as California, Florida’s coasts, Andalusia or Scotland already feeling the fierce effects. In other countries such as Germany, Switzerland or even Austria, climate change and its consequences have not yet come as close to golfers. This tempts one or the other amateur golfer, club manager or official to put off thinking about changes.
The status quo cannot be maintained
One look at flooded golf courses in Palm Springs or Florida, burned-down clubhouses in California and plumes of smoke over the golf courses of Athens or Tenerife makes it clear that the status quo is no longer tenable. It’s time to think about adaptation, about new technologies, different golf course architecture, the future of golf in fact.
Vision 2050 is designed to provide food for thought from golf specialists, researchers, industry leaders and players who believe in the future of a changed golf in a changed world. Once a month we want to talk to people whose insight and knowledge can help develop golf. We start in September with an interview with Niels Dokkuma, who is an agronomist at the European Golf Association and also responsible for sustainability.
The word advancement brings with it the essential message:Climate-friendly golf can be a better sport. Vision 2050 is a positive vision for us.