Golf goes greener

October 29, 2012

Golf goes greenerGolf has, in recent years, experienced some difficult challenges. The changing social and economic environment has necessitated a need for the industry to change its approach to managing and maintaining a golf course. Syngenta is seen as a thought leader in developing innovative solutions for the sustainability of golf courses and was invited as a keynote speaker at the recent KPMG Golf Business Forum to contribute to this important topic.

The time when golf was a “Country Club Elite” sport is long gone. To some extent, golf course owners have had to change their business models to attract a more diverse playing population who are looking for a different playing experience than in years past due to the effects of the volatile global economy. From September 17-19, thought leaders in the golf industry came together in Italy for a 3-day working session during the KPMG golf business forum to discuss the issues and challenges that the industry faces today. Seen as an innovator for today’s golf course, Syngenta participated in this thought-provoking event.

Golf has long been accused of being detrimental to the environment, using resources that could be used better elsewhere. Water restrictions, climate change and food security have fueled these arguments. But nowadays, golfers are increasingly environmentally aware. A majority like playing in a natural-looking course and being able to observe wildlife and birds.

A lot of people don’t know that golf course superintendents genuinely have a real passion for the environment and are extremely proud of their courses but also in finding and taking initiatives that improve sustainability,” explains Mike Parkin, Head, Turf and Landscape, Syngenta at the KPMG Golf Business Forum where sustainability and innovation are high on the agenda. “In an increasingly urbanized world, they should be seen as guardians of a modern oasis and golf courses as a place where people can connect with nature.”

During the last two years, Syngenta has been researching solutions to help golf superintendents to use less water, protect and enhance biodiversity and landscapes while better managing current resources to avoid pollution and waste. Syngenta’s philosophy is about creating a more holistic and integrated approach that will help address the needs of sustainability. Examples range from online disease prediction modeling, to finding solutions in using less water, to participating in our “Operation Pollinator” project to promote biodiversity.

Parkin explains: “Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator will change people’s mind about the golf industry. It is designed to create habitats on the golf course with wild flowers rich in nectar and that will attract bees. Instead of thinking that golf is destroying the environment, people will realize that they are actually an integral part of finding sustainable solutions, that golf courses can be an ecological resource and promote biodiversity, as well as providing a leisure activity for players. Operation Pollinator is hugely popular within the player’s community and greenkeepers.”

Sustainability is really a mindset, it’s just a different optic through which to view your business,” concludes Parkin. “Once you get used to looking through these glasses, there will be many small things you can start working on today, some with immediate benefit for players and the golf industry. It’s an exciting and changing time and I think we will definitively see the golf industry evolving.

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