Perhaps you’ve never thought about golf’s impact on the environment – or perhaps you don’t care. But the reality is, golf courses make a tremendous impact on our environment and we should be doing all we can to help minimize that impact.
Meanwhile, Marriott Golf announced its ESPA award initiative last week. The ESPA (Environmental Sustainability Performance Award) program is the hotel chain’s way of implementing “greener” golf courses at its resorts around the world – and others should take note.
At first glance, hardcore environmentalists (who have long criticized golf as extremely anti-environmental) might dismiss the ESPA program as nothing more than a good public relations piece with only a minor impact to the environment. But the fact that Marriott – a corporation that manages several golf courses in multiple countries – has implemented an initiative towards more sustainable golf is a good sign for the environment.
This is actually the second positive step Marriott Golf has taken with regards to the environment. In 2008, the company mandated that all its golf resorts become Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries – a designation that protects areas of wildlife habitat on its courses.
This latest step (implementation of the ESPA) will take their eco-friendly initiatives a bit further: For starters, Marriott Golf will require 60 of its golf courses across the globe to complete the ESPA program by the end of this year.
All 60 courses must (in addition to being certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries) implement a water conservation strategy (specifically focusing on reducing irrigation water consumption); reduce their overall carbon footprint (by completing a program Marriott and agribusiness corporation Syngenta created in 2011 – more HERE); and achieve a set of conservation standards (established by the Marriott Golf Conservation Scorecard – “a newly developed exclusive evaluation of nearly 100 key conservation standards”).
So, is this ESPA program the most comprehensive environmental initiative for golf that could be implemented? No. Not by a long shot. There is so much more that could/should be done (to that end, see GolfStinks’ previous posts about golf and the environment HERE). But the ESPA program is a step in the right direction – and one that was sorely needed in golf. Kudos to Marriott Golf – let’s hope this trend catches on and expands exponetially.