Sustainability and golf made in Italy – an international pride
Many people do not know this, especially abroad, but the Italian golf system is excellent in environmental sustainability. A result that was possible thanks to a far-sighted path that began in the 80s, demonstrating how the problem of sustainability was considered in Italian golf well before it became the topic widely discussed today.
And so, despite the Coronavirus, the project “Impegnati nel Verde” (INV, “Committed to the Green”) by Federgolf (the Italian Golf Association), has also shown great acceptance in 2020: of the 13 nominations, 9 deserved the Environmental Recognition in the different categories Water, Energy, Biodiversity, Landscape and Cultural Heritage.
These GCs have been able to look at this as an opportunity that allowed them to stand out and have a better relationship with the context. Furthermore, it allowed them in obtaining concrete savings.
Also, many of the Italian golf courses arise in areas of great environmental interest, with particular reference to issues related to biodiversity, but also cultural, historical, architectural. To give an example, many are the cases in which Renaissance palaces have been used as clubhouses, rather than the golf course being set in a European Nature Reserve or a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Golf is a sport that requires significant energy consumption with maintaining the conditions of the playing field: in addition to the ability to significantly reduce this consumption with smart technologies and choices, consideration can be given to the possibility of establishing golf courses in derelict areas, compromised areas, former quarries, former landfills and thus the recovery and improvement of the environment.
Further testimony to the attention paid to environmental issues in Italian golf is the fact that almost every Italian golf course has for years abolished the use of pesticides. That’s why some golfers complain that abroad certain courses are in perfect condition, with Scottish green grass despite the air temperature exceeds 40°C.
In any case, a golf course has many chances to join a path of sustainability: from the choice to use turfs with “macroterme” (also called “Bermudagrass“), grassy surfaces more suitable for the Mediterranean climate, that bear better the annual temperature range and that require much less water (up to 70% less, according to the statistics of Golf Della Montecchia, Veneto) than those “microterme” typical of Northern Europe.
Other important actions that have made it possible to win these awards in the latest edition of INV by the technical-scientific committee specialized in FIG (Italian Golf Federation), are those aimed at the recovery of rainwater for irrigation (Golf del Ducato, Emilia; Golf Club San Michele, Calabria), the promotion of biodiversity, for example with the planting of local plants (Ugolino Golf Club, Tuscany; Albarella Golf Links, Veneto), the internal production of organic vegetables, the creation of photovoltaic systems (Golf Santo Stefano, Emilia; Golf Città D’Asti, Piedmont), the extension of uncultivated areas to allow local wildlife species to proliferate, and then there are the equally important activities aimed at enhancing the local historical and cultural heritage (Bellosguardo Vinci Golf Club, Tuscany; Golf Club Tirrenia, Tuscany).
Special mentions also go to the Tuscan Golf Club Terme di Saturnia which has been again GEO certified (the international certification of the Golf Environment Organization), the Gardagolf Country Club in Lombardy Geo Certified since 2018, and to the Venice Open U.S. Kids, which for the second year-in-a-row earned the GEO Tournament certification, the first amateur golf tournament in the world to reach this milestone.
In conclusion, perhaps the Italian golf system is not the best in the world, but it can certainly boast true excellences that stand out on the international scene for ecological sustainability and understanding of how, today more than ever, it is essential to develop and continue to improve the relationship with the environment, because it is this same relationship that determines its space of existence and survival.
Albarella Golf Links, Bermuda grass, Biodiversità, Federgolf, FIG, Golf Bellosguardo Vinci, Golf Club San Michele, Golf Club Tirrenia, Golf del Ducato, Golf Santo Stefano, golf sustainability, Impegnati nel Verde, macroterme, microterme, pesticides, Unesco