Fife Golf Trust recognised with sustainable accolade

Fifes council-owned golf courses have achieved sustainability recognition. credit - Fife Photo Agency.
Fifes council-owned golf courses have achieved sustainability recognition. credit - Fife Photo Agency.

Fife has become the first local authority in the world to have all of its council owned courses achieve golf’s highest level of sustainability recognition.

All seven golf courses managed by the Fife Golf Trust (FGT) have achieved certification from the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), making Fife the first local authority to have all of its council owned courses gain the accolade.

Fife Golf Trust is a registered charity which was established in 2011 to manage and operate Fife Council’s seven public courses. FGT management is led by a chief executive and courses manager, supported by a Board of Directors, which includes specialist golf expertise from other Fife-based organisations including The R&A, St Andrews Links Trust, Elmwood College and local councillors.

As a committed custodian of the public courses, FGT aims to meet Fife Council’s objectives on sustainable management, covering biodiversity, waste, climate change, pollution prevention and social inclusion.

Paul Murphy, FGT courses manager, said: “We are delighted to attain this recognition, which marks a key milestone in our journey to demonstrate continuous improvement. I see the award as a legacy which will drive Fife Golf Trust to continue to improve on its environmental management and become even more sustainable.

“The achievement demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to nature protection, resource efficiency and providing value to the community. Undergoing this work was also an opportunity to make the clubs more efficient, enhance the golf courses, demonstrate golf’s leadership, and make a positive difference to the local environment.

“Utilising OnCourse®, the sustainability programme for golf clubs, and becoming GEO Certified® go hand-in-hand with these aims and were therefore an ideal vehicle to achieve these goals.”

The criteria for the certification span nature, water, pollution control, supply chain, energy and community. Good examples of the work undertaken to fulfil the nature criterion include habitat creation, such as bringing rough into management as well as pond creation and naturalisation of watercourses during drainage works. The habitat creation also contributed to objectives in the Fife Local Biodiversity Action Plan. As a partner of the Fife’s Buzzing project, schoolchildren from four local schools helped to plant wildflower meadows for pollinators.

Mike Wood, the independent consultant who assessed the seven courses for the GEO accreditation, said that “the ability of the Fife Golf Trust to combine outstanding playing surfaces (described as amongst the best tested by the Sports Turf Research Institute in 2015), with a clear commitment to the conservation of nature and resources, is a model example for the efficient and responsible management of golf courses”.

Steve Isaac, director of Sustainability at The R&A said: “Our congratulations to Fife Golf Trust in achieving GEO Certified® for all seven of the courses it is responsible for, setting a wonderful example that we hope many others will follow. Using OnCourse® to provide the evidence for certification also delivers a platform to turn sustainability theory into practice, making a positive difference to course condition and profitability.”

Carolyn Hedley, environment manager at Scottish Golf said: “Scottish Golf are delighted that Fife Golf Trust have achieved this credible and independent recognition for the positive value that their courses bring to the environment and the local community.

“The leadership and forward thinking that Fife Golf Trust have shown in gaining the international GEO Certified mark is a fantastic example for others. And we encourage more clubs and municipal courses in Scotland to follow their lead. We congratulate Paul and the team on their achievement and look forward to continuing to support their good work.”

The FGT full GEO Certified® independent verification report can be found at www.golfenvironment.org