GEO introduces new standards for sustainable golf development

There is a new voluntary sustainability standard for golf course development, thanks to Golf Environment Organization (GEO).

The standard is designed to provide golf developers with a framework for new developments and renovations. It covers everything from site selection through to opening day and is designed to maximize social and environmental value.

GEO, a European-based nonprofit organization, worked on the standards for 18 months with a host of groups, including the R&A, World Wildlife Fund, the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects; American Society of Golf Course Architects; The European Institute of Golf Course Architects; The Golf Course Builders Association of America; European Commission; Beijing Forestry University; Australian National University.

“Bringing diverse stakeholders together to produce credible and accessible sustainability standards is no easy task,” said Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO. “We acknowledge The R&A’s leadership, vision and investment; WWF’s engagement; the support of the major golf architect associations worldwide; and the further backing of valued corporate partners, Jacobsen, and sponsors John Deere and Toro.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A said there is more evidence that sustainability is key to the growth and vitality of golf.

“Voluntary sustainability standards have an important role to play and we are delighted to see this significant milestone being achieved,” he said. “We would encourage people involved in golf development to utilize this resource as they create the profitable facilities of the future, serving golfers and wider society and enhancing the image and reputation of the sport as they do so.”

Central to the credibility and rigor behind the standards is The ISEAL Alliance’s code of good practice for standard setting. GEO earned full ISEAL membership status in 2015 and followed the codes throughout the development of this standard document. These same codes of good practice are followed by other well-known sustainability bodies including Fairtrade, The Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council.

“Golf is the only sport to have representation, via GEO, in  ISEAL,” said Amy Jackson, ISEAL’s Senior Manager for Learning & Membership. “Following our Standard-Setting Code shows a commitment to transparency, multi-stakeholder balanced input and, along with our impacts and assurance codes, helps to ensure that this standard will produce positive and measurable environmental and social impacts.”

The document and further explanation can be viewed at


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