Best management practices for golf facilities

These performance goals can serve as a reference point when developing your sustainability initiatives.

A cornerstone of golf's sustainability initiative, Golf’s Drive Toward Sustainability, has been the examination of existing best management practices (BMPs) and the development of performance goals. The performance goals are designed to be high-level performance/action based statements, not technical instructions. The statements are also broad-based and encompass the entire golf facility, including management of turfgrass, landscape, environmental resources, buildings, amenities and operations. These performance goals give you and your facility a resource from which to evaluate your current operations and design a plan for continuous improvement.

More about the BMP performance goals

The performance goals are focused in the following areas that have the most potential significant impact on the facility's operation and offers opportunities to improve the bottom line:

  • water conservation
  • water quality protection
  • pollution prevention
  • energy conservation

As you'll see, the statements are centered on the concept of continual improvement and incorporate the “plan, do, check and act” model. As a result, common throughout the BMP performance goals are the establishment of policy, adoption of goals and objectives, written action plans, tracking / monitoring and reporting practices.

Please note: These performance goals only encompass the aforementioned focus areas and do not specifically address every environmental issue. Issues such as wildlife and habitat management, air quality, noise and others are integral aspects of golf facilities and should be incorporated within your facility’s overall environmental plan.

How the performance goals were developed

The process engaged golf industry stakeholders, environmental advocacy groups, scientists and regulators to review existing BMPs. Five working groups, one for each of the aforementioned areas and an oversight committee then undertook the process to develop the performance goals. These performance goals are now being used to prompt the creation of new tools and resources, support existing programs and will be used to recognize and award performance by the EIFG and other collaborators. In addition, these performance goals are considered dynamic and will be reviewed and updated by the golf course industry to ensure continuous improvement.

How you can use the BMP performance goals

Your facility does not have to be 100% "environmental" or "in compliance" – just start where you are with what you have and move forward one step at a time. It is recommended that you focus on "low-hanging fruit" in the beginning to make a difference toward the bottom line, as well as managing environmental impacts. In today’s business climate, you may also want to make projects that can make an environmental advancement while reducing expenses or increasing profit a highest priority. You should strive for continual improvements through planning and budgeting processes annually.

You are also encouraged to adapt the “plan, do, check and act” model that incorporates periodic reviewing, reporting, communicating and updating processes. This process, in conjunction with industry BMPs, is considered the best model for continuous improvement and sustainability. You should also carefully consider your business environment, including your financial circumstances, when following the BMP performance goals. Your facility needs to ensure profitability in order to provide value within your community.

Additional industry BMPs

You may also wish to consult other golf-course-related BMPs that have been established by other organizations for additional information: