Thursday, May 21, 2009
GEO is my Hero
Ha, that's the best title I could come up with. Why my "hero"? Well, the Golf Environment Organisation (yes that is a S not a Z) have created what appears to be a great resource for golf courses to learn about environmental issues. Our industry needs this.
Recently GEO released a new website and certification program. To bring you up to speed as to who and what the GEO is, I've covered them a couple times before - here and here. After an hour of perusing the program, much of which is not yet on the site, this post covers my initial impressions.
Basically any golf facility, new development or tour/event can sign up. For a facility the process is pretty simple, and I've compared it to Audubon Internationals (AI) Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses program to give some perspective.
* Upload basic data & environmental policy - They're not kidding when they say basic, but it does give your club the opportunity to show what your environmental goals are.
* Make a commitment to responsible management. - A commitment that puts you on the map, literally. A little side note from my ego, I used google maps for this purpose before anyone else, just saying. haha.
* Use GEO Knowledge and EMS Toolkit - This stuffs pretty good, probably the best overview of all things golf/environment on the web, behind gorforethegreen.blogspot.com . I'll dive into it a bit more in the future, perhaps in an interview.
* Get support from golf federations / local NGO's - This is an interesting step, I like it a lot. I'll find out more.
* Upload detailed data within three years - From what I've seen of this, it's comparable to what AI asks within their certification criteria. I'm going to interview some of the clubs that are already certified and I'll give you specifics on this in the future.
* Appoint GEO accredited verifier for assessment visit - I'm getting more info on this too, stay tuned.
* On-site evaluation with constructive feedback - I love that this is done by an accredited GEO verifyer and not a volunteer like in AI's program but you've got to wonder, if you are paying between 1,200 and 2,900 Pounds per certification cycle (3yrs.) are they likely to fail you? Audubon International requires volunteer reviewers to have no connections to the golf course (members, employees, owners), it's easy to see the transparency in that.
* Certification awarded / pending / rejected - Sounds good.
* Repeat steps 2 - 4 within three years - As a matter of perspective, Audubon International requires that you reach the next step every two years with an annual due of $250 USD. This ends up being at least 1/4 of the price of the GEO program.
* GEO Certification requires continual improvement - Excellent! I hope the requirements will increase through time to reflect what the industry has learned. 5 Years ago the market was very different, and this change will grow exponentially within the next five.
So, is the GEO program better than AI's? No. Comparable maybe, but I don't yet see the significant advantage. If I discover otherwise I'll post a review.
Do we need another certification program? Perhaps. Some Superintendents tell me that AI's program falls short, and why else would companies like Kemper Sports create their own program?
Overall, I'm thrilled to see this new development in our industry and the fact that they've included events is ground braking. Good on them, and I wish the program great success.
Here's another source for you, europeantour.com