Fife Golf Trust - Driving The Green Across Public Golf Courses

Following in the footsteps of the world’s most famous public course - St.Andrews Links, the Fife Golf Trust has stepped up its commitment to environmental and social performance. The trust enrolled all seven of its public golf facilities in the GEO OnCourse™ programme, to work toward the international ecolabel for sustainable golf, GEO Certified™.

Confirming the commitment at a seminar on green golf held in St. Andrews, Paul Murphy, the new head of golf course management for the Fife Golf Trust said:
“The seven courses we oversee across the Kingdom of Fife are fantastic recreational resources, very well used by local people of all ages and backgrounds. Our vision is to make them even better by deepening the positive impact in their communities, for golfers and non-golfers; to make them as ecologically rich as we can; and to be even more efficient in our use of resources such as water, energy, fertilisers and pesticides.

We considered a number of ways to achieve our vision, and quickly agreed that the GEO On Course™ programme is far and away the best means to help us plan and coordinate the effort, encouraging and making it easier for Greenkeepers and other staff to make improvements that bring practical results. And for us, overseeing several courses, the “management group” tools are a good way for other managers and me to track and support the work going on at each site. 

Fife Council's policies on sustainability - covering biodiversity, waste, climate change, pollution prevention and social inclusion are very strong and our golf facilities are well placed to meet them.

We'll be working hard to be the first municipality in the world to have all our clubs and courses GEO Certified™ in the year ahead”.

Kelli Jerome, GEO Director of Programme Management said:

"Municipal golf courses are vital for good quality, affordable and accessible golf in local communities. We’re pleased that the OnCourse™ programme has been selected to help Paul and his team reduce operational costs and improve the golfing and ecological quality of the courses. 

Everything the GEO Certified™ ecolabel stands for matches well with government policies in climate change, biodiversity, waste, social inclusion, health, youth recreation and environmental quality. It will be great to see more municipal golf courses following the example Fife Golf Trust is setting.” 


About GEO

GEO is a stakeholder-funded, not-for-profit organization, dedicated to helping the global golf community establish leadership in environmental enhancement and corporate responsibility. GEO Certified™ is the world's most constructive and credible ecolabel for golf course and club management.

GEO works with golf, government and environmental organizations worldwide, including The European Tour, United Nations Environment Programme, The R&A and the Club Managers Association of America. For more information, please see:

Media Enquiries: Kelli Jerome, GEO Director of Programme Management
T: +44 1620 895100E:

Turkey Feeders at Bear Trace

Several years ago when a flock of wild turkeys showed up at the golf course one morning we were all really excited. An occasional single turkey had been seen on the golf course in the past but never a flock this size.

In an effort to try to entice them to stay and take up residency on the golf course we looked at our habitat and resources for them to thrive. The habitat of the golf course is very adequate for their survival with several movement corridors, native grass corridors, and plenty of trees to roost in for the night. The part we were missing was a good food source so we created some supplemental turkey feeders to provide them with shelled and cracked corn until we could install some food plots for them.

The Sustainability Hat-Trick

How integrating the three pillars of sustainability in to your decision making will make you a winner every time.

A History Lesson
In 1835 an English Cricketer by the name of Heathfield Harman "HH" Stephenson was the first to take three wickets in three balls. Later HH Stephenson was awarded a hat for his achievement and the term “Hat-Trick” was coined. Since then the term has been adopted to explain significant achievements that come in threes, like three goals in Hockey, Football/Soccer, or as in golf three consecutive wins of the same Tour event constitutes a “Hat-Trick”.

In March of 1987 the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations agreed that the definition of “Sustainable Development” is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Later in 2005 at the World Summit held in New York City, it was agreed upon by the participating nations that to attain sustainable development it would require reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands. This became known as the “Three Pillars” of sustainability, but also referred to as the 3 P’s: People, Planet, Profit.

Image Source 

Integrated - It’s not just for Pest Management anymore!
The “reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands” means that development, or in our case individual projects or products, must account for each of these areas. A single focused solution is a temporary response to a problem and is based on a system of cheap and easily accessible fuels, materials and labor. This is the difference between “sustainability” and single focused methods of making something just “green”, “cheap” or “aesthetically pleasing”. The old linear decision making process of “I have one problem and therefore need one solution” does not take into account the effect on the inputs and outputs of the 3 P’s. At this time in our game, economy and environment, we need a major win. I believe that sustainable planning can deliver us this win.

So what are the dimensions of the Cultural, Economic and Environmental functions related to a golf course?

Cultural Dimensions of Golf Course Management

  • To provide recreational opportunities
  • To make golf accessible
  • To promote the rules of golf
  • To make golf fun, playable and provide advancement opportunities
  • To embrace the historic cultural aspects of the game
  • To provide a venue and activity for community events and functions
  • To provide a social venue for special occasions (banquets and weddings)
  • To preserve and protect the health of peoples

Economic Dimensions of Golf Course Management

  • To provide employment opportunities
  • To provide services to local businesses (catering, conferences and banquets)
  • To use the services of other local companies to advertise, maintain and supply the golf course
  • To provide a fundraising opportunity for local charities
  • To generate electricity, fuels, materials for local use
  • To increase efficient use of resources
  • To reduce overhead costs

Environmental Dimensions of Golf Course Management

  • To provide functional habitat and embrace biodiversity
  • To contribute to the naturally occurring water cycle (recharge groundwater reserves, direct high flows, preserve low and seasonal flows)
  • To filter water and improve overall water quality
  • To sequester carbon and preserve air quality
  • To cool surface temperatures and reduce the heat island effect of urban areas
  • To process and use local green waste products

It is with the integration of these three dimensions that I believe golf can be a truly “sustainable” sport.


And just for the fun of it, here's a game every Leaf fan remembers featuring the "Greatest" Hat-Tricker of them all, #99. 

Dirt vs. Soil: What is under your turf?

A key principle of sustainability is to cooperate with nature instead of competing with it, are you doing this with your soil microbiology?

In this video from, Dr. Elaine Ingham talks about soil fertility and the role of soil microbial life. Dr. Ingham is a world-renowned soil biologist who pioneered many of the currently used biological soil amendment techniques and the testing of soil microbial life as an indicator of soil and plant health. Her position on soil management is controversial in some circles, while gospel in others.

What is your take? Comment below or use #soilfoodweb on twitter or G+

Environmental Efforts at New Albany GC

Discussion with Adam Troyer and Brett Foster about New Albany Country Club's recent Audubon Certification. Produced by the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation.

Newcastle Experiments with Composts

"We did some trial work on compost and have been pretty happy with the results. We have found some of the batches vary in freshness so where and when you use it could be a concern. Overall though, using it in our divot mix has been great for speeding up germination and divot recovery. It is also showing significant promise in our high wear and droughty areas." - 

From Scott M. Phelps on the Newcastle Turf Maintenance Blog

Check out Cedar Grove for more info on their Compost Products

Sustainable Golf in the Algarve: Espiche

According to a recent Golf Travel Insights report published by KPMG's Golf Advisory Practice, 60% of golf tour operators experienced an increase in bookings in 2011, vs only 38 per cent in 2010. Spain and Portugal continue to be the most popular destinations and even saw an average price drop of 10-20 per cent for golf holiday packages in 2011.

Environmental sustainability has become a center focus of many of these resorts that must appeal to today's eco-conscious traveler and prepare for times where resources will become less available and more expensive. For an example we go to Espiche golf course, in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Sustainable Golf in the Algarve: Espiche
Polly Allen

Golf is a very serious business in Portugal, thanks to its international status as a top golfing destination for both professionals and amateurs. Golf holidays in the Algarve region are increasingly popular, but one new club has decided to go the extra mile and provide a sustainable course experience for every player. Espiche is set within an ecological reserve in the western Algarve and respects the local landscape by using key sustainability principles in the design and running of the course.

Bruce Beach Golf Club Native Grasses

Despite the warmest, driest spring on record I should have suspected an early opening of my local pasture golf course wasn't in the cards, which of course was certainly the case this past weekend. However, the luxury of having golf flags in and holes cut didn't faze me one bit, as I was really just out for the exercise and fresh air combination. Knowing the course like I do, helps a lot too with knowing where to approximately chip the ball close to the hole in the sand greens where the cup has a permanent home in for the playing season.