Collaboration key to sustainability?

Canterbury Golf Club

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” goes the famous quote – and it is never truer than when applied to golf’s approach to sustainability.

Canterbury Golf Club in Kent, England is the latest course to succeed through collaborating with experts for the benefit of its green space, creating a biodiversity management plan which won ‘Ecological Project of the Year’ at the STRI Golf Environment Awards in January. 

In 2020, Natural England asked the club to produce comprehensive plans for the woodland and grassland areas outside the in-play areas of the course, prompting Anthony Dance, a member and retired landscape architect with a passion for wildlife conservation to offer his services.

Nearly all of the course lies on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is home to an abundance of wildlife and habitats. 

Dance, the club and Natural England worked together to create a comprehensive Biodiversity Management Plan, also consulting with the Forestry Commission and eventually securing funding from DEFRA in 2022 to realise the project.

Work takes place between late November and the end of February in order to avoid disturbing nesting birds and other wildlife, and the greenkeeping staff plus volunteer members form a taskforce.

Many other golf clubs around the world have harnessed the knowledge of experts in a similar collaborations to protect and enhance its environment.

In Canada, CommonGround Golf Course sought advice from Denver Botanic Gardens about a project to create wildflower meadows alongside fairways and around greens.

Wildflower pilot blooming at Colorado course

Luxury golf resort Kiawah Island may be well known for hosting Majors and a Ryder Cup, but environmental protection is at its heart, having worked closely with the Kiawah Conservancy since 1974.

Kiawah Island's 50 years balancing tourism and conservation

And almost as important as the work itself is the communication of collaborative projects like these.

Golf's relationship with the environment is under increasing scrutiny, and it is more important than ever to demonstrate the positive impact it can have on wildlife, flora and fauna as well as providing a sanctuary for golfers.

Golf needs to “speak up” on sustainability

By sharing insights, stories and best practice advice, golf can improve its image.