The Australian golf industry has flagged its intent to address external sustainability factors in releasing the Golf Course 2030 Australia roadmap.GC 2030 Australia is the result of two years of work lead by Golf Australia and the Australian Sports Turf Managers Association with support from the PGA of Australia, the WPGA, Golf Management Australia
and Australian Golf Course Architects.

It comes off the back of the landmark GC2030 report released by the R&A in 2018, and has been endorsed by the R&A as Australia’s adaptation which aims to steer the sport through factors such as the changing climate, resource constraints and regulation on course condition and playability. Almost a dozen countries have picked up the challenge since the R&A’s call to action four years ago, with Australia now joining in.

The document identifies issues for golf clubs and facilities relating to environment and sustainability, with hypothetical scenarios to study and potential solutions to consider. The scenarios include extreme weather and restricted access to chemicals causing potential closure of some clubs and facilities. In each case, a way forward is suggested.

Topics such as climate change, resources, water conservation, pesticides, labour and land are all covered. Australian golf facilities have experienced both flood and drought conditions in recent years, emphasizing the need for action by golf to protect itself in the future.

The roadmap was announced ahead of the Golf Management Australia/ASTMA Conference and Trade Exhibition, held this week at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Golf Australia’s Senior Manager-Clubs and Facilities Support, Matt Chesterman, said the document provided a way forward for the industry in an era when sustainability had emerged as a massive issue for golf clubs.

“We’ve developed a document which will guide research to positively impact the environment in which we play golf, while striving to maintain optimum playing conditions on golf courses around the country,” said Chesterman today.

“We’ve consulted with clubs and facilities around the country through workshops, we’ve taken feedback and developed a series of priorities, and we’ve come up with some solutions. Our job now is to get some of these solutions in play.”

Chesterman said attitudes to environmental sustainability had already changed within the game, but added that golf had not necessarily told its story well.

“External stakeholders and Government are inclined to think that golf courses are not environmentally friendly, but the reality of that is quite different. There’s a perception out there, and we probably need to change it. There are good things happening out there with our superintendents and it’s our job now to educate our external stakeholders as well as internally educating people so they make the adjustments that they need to make.”

Chris Gray, the R&A’s Head of Sustainable Golf and Agronomy for the Asia-Pacific, welcomed Australia’s move. “It has been a pleasure working with Australian Golf’s stakeholder to develop the GC2030 Australia document to this point,” he said. “The global challenge that we are facing is real and the effort that has been put into this point is a credit to Australian golf. The R&A look forward to working with Golf Australia and the ASTMA to develop the first project and realise positive outcomes from GC2030 Australia.”

Mark Unwin, Chief Executive of ASTMA, said: “The ASTMA is proud to be a key partner in the GC2030 Australia project. Golf course superintendents, and for that matter all maintenance staff, are passionate about the environments in which they work. The GC2030 Australia program will give them a platform to showcase environmental innovation, leading to positive impacts where it matters most, on our golf courses.”

Golf Course 2030 (GC2030) was established by the R&A in 2018 as an industry initiative to consider the impacts, both positive and negative, of the changing climate, resource constraints and regulation on course condition and playability.

Its aim is to produce a roadmap that will steer the sport to mitigate the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that these issues present.

The GC2030 plan for Australia will promote greater resilience through appropriate management practices which address the challenges and opportunities. It will meet strategic needs at regional, national, and local level, and the operational needs at golf facility level.

Australia’s GC2030 plan is intended to align with The R&A’s purpose: to make golf more accessible, appealing and inclusive, and to ensure it is thriving 50 years from now. Our golf courses are our sport’s foundation. Without conditioning and playability, suitable to the venue’s customer base and location, that is appealing to golfers, the game will not thrive.

Chesterman called on industry people attending this week’s conference to take in the document as well as presentations by the R&A.