Starting point for sustainability at LPGA and LET

Christopher Chandler doesn’t mince his words: “We’re at point zero. We are starting from scratch.” The executive director of the golf tournament Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on the LPGA Tour speaks of the new cooperation between the American chemical company Dow and the two professional tours for women LPGA and LET in Europe. The chemical company based in Michigan, USA, is already the title sponsor of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. In 2019 it was the first tournament on the American LPGA Tour to be certified by the British institute GEO for its sustainability efforts.

Now, during the four-year cooperation, Dow will act as the official sustainability resource of the two professional organizations and will primarily help them with the implementation of projects. While Dow brings in the experience from material science, the certifier GEO should contribute knowledge in the golf sector.

To date, few concrete projects at the LET

Little has happened so far: Europe’s LET launched the “Celebrating the Green” campaign in cooperation with GEO last year, but did not actually implement any major sustainability projects, relying largely on the appointment of two ambassadors from the Player stock limited.

“For us, the first thing to do is to take stock,” explains Chandler. “We talk to players, sponsors, organizers and do surveys to see how they feel about sustainability.” Then it’s about implementation. “In fact, it must be clear that turning to the subject of sustainability is not an option in the event sector, but is urgently needed.”

LPGA to date more focused on girls golf projects and inclusion

On the LPGA Tour, the tournament organizers are usually active when it comes to involving the local population, integrating minorities, the disabled or promoting golf for girls. A large part of the efforts and funds have gone into this area in recent years. On the other hand, when it comes to avoiding plastic, recycling waste or reducing CO2, the balance sheets are usually sparse. “To date, next to nothing has happened in this area,” explains Chandler. He also admits that the organization of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in 2019 was viewed with a little suspicion by LPGA officials when they tried to score points with recycling measures, resource savings and, above all, the communication of the sustainability topic. At least there is a sustainability report from the event in which the project can be understood.

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Recycling rate should be significantly better

Chandler is well aware “that we are lagging behind here in America compared to Europe.” The proportion of recycled beverage cans and bottles was less than 30 percent. But now we want to change that. At the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational tournament, for example, together with the plastic recycling company KW Plastics, they managed to recycle all the rink material from the 2019 golf tournament into tees. These will be issued to the players in 2021. A small start from which more and more projects should grow. “Society is changing rapidly,” explains Chandler. “We see many opportunities here to bring about changes step by step.” In any case, they want to leave level zero as quickly as possible with both the LPGA and the LET in Europe.