Golf club members want greener games

Golfers are among the greenest of us, and are more likely to seek membership at golf clubs that have strong environmental policies, according to research published this week.

Research has shown that one third of British golfers would prefer to switch to another golf club if it upheld higher environmental standards and policies than their own

Research has shown that one third of British golfers would prefer to switch to another golf club if it upheld higher environmental standards and policies than their own

Research into golfers' attitudes towards recycled products and materials on golf courses launched by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) showed that they took environmental issues such as recycling very seriously.

A staggering 95% of respondents stated that they would want their golf course to use recycled products, assuming that there were no negative performance or cost implications.

Of the 200 golfers questioned, 93% agreed that golf courses needed to minimise any negative impact on the environment, and around two-thirds said they would feel more loyal to their club if they knew it was conducting its business in an environmentally friendly way.

In fact, environmental issues were shown to have a huge impact on golf club members' loyalty as nearly one third of respondents said they would consider switching golf clubs if another club had better environmental policies in place.

Moreover, those clubs adopting environmentally friendly practices could possibly benefit from increased membership as almost half of the golfers questioned said they would be more likely to recommend their club to other golfers it if used recycled materials and had "green practices".

"Although a number of golf courses have been using recycled products and adopting positive environmental practices for some time, the industry as a whole still has real potential to grasp the opportunities that this approach can offer," materials development manager at WRAP Bronnie Allen commented.

"This research has focused on the views of the people who can really influence how a golf course operates - the members. It has shown that adopting a more environmentally friendly approach enhances a club's reputation and may give it a competitive edge."

The survey's findings also demonstrated that golfers had a good understanding of the variety of recycling activities that golf courses could undertake. The most widely recognised recycling activity was using recycled woodchips for pathways, with over three quarters of respondents aware of this pratice. Other well-known recycling activities among respondents included:

  • Recycling grass cuttings into compost (70%)
  • Managing courses to encourage wildlife (70%)
  • Minimising the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides (62%)
  • Using compost in course maintenance (61%)
  • Having an environmental policy in place (61%)

    "The golfing sector is a key target market for WRAP and by commissioning this research we hope to highlight to decision makers the increasing importance of environmental issues in this sector," Ms Allen concluded.

    "We would encourage golf courses to look into the vast range of recycled materials and products that are available and, if they haven't already done so, consider running trials."

    By Jane Kettle

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