Golf facilities, whatever the size, are facing increasing operating costs and can impact on the environment. But you can take practical steps to manage and improve your environmental performance, ensure legislative compliance and save money.

Good practice

Businesses in many other industry sectors manage and reduce their environmental impact by using an environmental management system (EMS). An EMS helps you to identify your impacts and then manage your activities, for example the energy or water you use or the waste you produce. This can help you to improve your environmental performance.

Leading golf sector organisations (link here to golf association’s page) all promote sustainability in golf and would encourage clubs to implement an EMS such as the OnCourse® step-by step online programme run by Golf Environment Organization. This programme enables the recording of environmental data along with previous environmental achievements and current environmental practices. Information is recorded across the following categories:

  • Nature – Biodiversity, turf and pollution prevention data and activities
  • Resources – Water, Energy and Waste Management
  • Community – Education, Communication and wider community activities

To register go to

Recording current environmental data and activities

Accurate records should be kept for all turf products used on the golf course, water consumption, energy use, office, kitchen and pro shop products and waste production. Surveys and audits can be obtained for nature and biodiversity records. Netregs checklists can be used to ensure legislation compliance.

Having a good understanding of your environmental performance across all these aspects can then act as a baseline from which reduction and improvement targets can be set.

Producing an Environmental Action Plan

Having a Club Environmental Policy and having an Environmental Action Plan at your golf facility will ensure that and future planned projects and improvement targets are properly understood, documented and coordinated to ensure positive progress is achieved. In the long term, it will assist in resource and financial planning for activities and aid communication and continuity with staff and committee members.

Report on your environmental performance

Your golf facility can benefit from reporting on its environmental performance. For example reporting will:

  • Enable you to share information about your current performance, and whether you are complying with legislation with your committee and other stakeholders.
  • identify where you could improve your activities and use resources more efficiently saving you money and assist with future budgeting.
  • involve your staff and help increase their environmental awareness
  • demonstrate your commitment to improving your environmental performance to your staff, members, visitors and the public.

To find out how you can measure and report on your business' environmental performance see:

Defra: Guidance on environmental reporting Global Reporting Initiative: Resource centre

Communicate with your staff

Encourage all your staff to work together to improve your environmental performance. The day-to-day actions of your staff can significantly reduce your environmental impact. Ask someone to volunteer at your golf facility as the environmental champion.

Engage with your club committee to gain their support for environmental policies.

Raise awareness among staff and members about your policies and update them regularly on your progress and what you've achieved.

You can use the NetRegs e-learning tools to get a good overview of key issues. These tools are free to use and cover the essential points of each topic. They might be useful as a refresher course, or to make sure that staff have a good understanding of their environmental responsibilities: e.g.

  • Preventing pollution – a general guide
  • Duty of care
  • Sinks, drains and sewers
  • WEEE

All are available at: NetRegs: e-learning tools

Gaining recognition

Completion of the OnCourse® programme and undertaking independent verification can lead to the GEO Certified® ecolabel, an international mark of trust certifying your commitment and achievements to sustainability. Being GEO Certified® will help your club promote your sustainability achievements, bringing valuable business benefits and showcasing leadership. 

Further Information

Scottish Golf - Environment  for best practice advice, assistance with recording, monitoring, action plans and support with GEO OnCourse®.

Golf Environment Organization for the OnCourse® programme and GEO Certified®.

Find business support in Scotland for Government funded support on water, energy, materials and waste management.

Zero Waste Scotland:  Circular Procurement

NetRegs EMS guidance:

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

You can use the Environmental management toolkit to help manage your environmental impacts.

Northern Ireland environmental management toolkit

Scotland environmental management toolkit

In this guide

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