Foshan Golf Club, host venue for this week’s Foshan Open on the European Challenge Tour, has become only the third golf club in China to receive the prestigious international award for sustainable golf – GEO Certified™.
The ecolabel is presented to golf facilities for their commitment and practical contributions to the environment and communities.
Following a significant renovation by Tony Cashmore Golf Design, the owners and staff at the 18-hole facility have demonstrated clear voluntary action across a wide range of sustainability issues, including the conservation of nature, water and energy.
Keith Hardman, General Manager at the Club, said: “We are delighted to receive this accolade, especially at the time of this week’s Foshan Open on the European Challenge Tour. Achieving GEO Certified™ is the culmination of almost two years work by many people, and is a source of great pride for us.
“When Canton First Estates considered how we wanted our golfers, caddies and other staff to enjoy the golf course and estate, we felt strongly that enhancing the natural beauty and nature was vitally important. It feels natural to manage the entire property and our business affairs in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
“One of our biggest successes has been in water use. Surface water is now collected in onsite ponds and the new TORO irrigation system enables us to water only the areas of turf that show signs of drought stress. Water use this year is down more than 30% from last.”
Ben Cowen, Deputy Director of International Policy for The European Tour, said: “Foshan Golf Club is a wonderful venue for both amateur and professional golfers, and tournaments like the Foshan Open play a very important role in the development of the game. This award for sustainability emphasises the wider value golf can bring, and matches our own desire to lighten the impact of tournaments and leave the best possible legacy.”
Other sustainability highlights at Foshan Golf Club include:
• The creation of ten acres of natural Bahia grass in out-of-play rough ecological areas, as part of large ecological corridors through the course;
• The re-location and re-planting of indigenous trees and vegetation for natural landscape appearance;
• The creation of more than eight acres of ecologically-designed pond and wetland;
• Strong educational links with local high schools and universities for regular field trips, and close advisory from South China Agricultural University;
• The installation of energy and water saving devices throughout the clubhouse, including air conditioning and lighting;
• The focus on use of local materials, including course signage made from on-site stone;
• High quality working conditions for staff, with emphasis on hand weeding programmes to minimise the use of chemicals.
Dr Micah Woods, the independent verifier who performed the evaluation, said: “The management team at Foshan Golf Club has shown a commitment to best practice across many aspects of environmental management and community engagement. This will be noticed by any visitor to the club. From the low-energy and low-water fixtures in the clubhouse, to woodlands, natural water features and open meadow areas on the course, to the interns from a local university that are seen working and studying on the course, it is clear that this club is at the forefront of sustainable management.”
Dr Aylwin Tai, CCM, President CMAA-China Chapter, said: “We hope that Foshan's example will encourage many more golf clubs to use the educational and supportive GEO program to strengthen their businesses and make a positive environmental and social difference.”
Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO, commented: “Congratulations to Foshan Golf Club for approaching this in such a positive and comprehensive way, and credit to the European Challenge Tour for their supporting efforts and for making this such a large focus of the week.”