How to make public golf facilities sustainable?

By: March 26, 2019

When I read recently the Golf Environment Organization’s (GEO) ‘Sustainable Golf Development – Public Facilities Guidelines’ Olivier Denis-Massé’s (Chief Marketing Officer, French Golf Federation) guest article came to my mind.

In regarding hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup, he wrote:

A plan for the construction of 100 small urban or peri-urban golf structures has been put in place and 10 years later, this goal has been achieved.

These Practices, Pitch & Putt or compact courses have put golf in the heart of cities and offer easy and inexpensive initiation formulas to attract new audiences.

OCDev-Public Golf Facilities-kids

I thought to highlight this as the above-mentioned guidelines for public golf facilities is recommending something very similar:

  1. Golf is a sport that can contribute more value to more people. Every public golf facility can and should aspire to be accessible, profitable, connected and healthy.
  2. Open-space networks of green infrastructure are the lifeblood of a city. Protecting, connecting and strengthening them helps to future-proof cities. Golf facilities can be a valuable contributor to a city’s green infrastructure.
  3. Flexibility in ownership and business model can lead to opportunities to redefine a facility’s purpose and goals. Inspiration can be taken from partnership or sponsorship models to deliver more value than a simple sports pitch.
  4. The public good and the accessible ethos of public golf facilities create an opportunity to deliver on government policy and targets, joining funded initiatives that could not be accessed by private facilities.
  5. It is important to know that spending more money does not necessarily equal a better golf facility.
  6. Creativity and resourcefulness in design and construction can have significant positive impacts on a project’s budget and the long-term maintenance costs of the facility. Early decisions should be made about the expectations of the course’s owner, the end users and the market position the facility will occupy relative to courses around it.
  7. Learn the local golf market and understand its expectations before deciding on the level of course presentation the facility should aspire to – this can save a lot of time and money later on.
  8. Having a diverse base of customers is highly beneficial. Golf courses can serve more than just golfers. Non-golfing activities can generate revenue and help sustain the financial health of the overall facility.
  9. Public golf facilities can look at energy supply as a way of contributing towards national or regional targets and improving the profitability of their operations. Actions facilities can take include switching to renewable energy suppliers; using hybrid or electric vehicles; installing micro-renewables such as wind or solar; and using low-wattage electrical fittings.
  10. Public golf facilities can be seen as a land resource and possible location for community composting sites, where green garden waste can be stored and processed either to be used in the maintenance of municipal courses and parks to reduce costs or to be sold locally to gardens and allotments.
OCDev-Public Golf Facilities-air photo of golf course