The R&A - Working for Golf

Planning for changing climate

Be aware of the challenges of extreme weather and plan for change.

We are all seeing more extreme weather which brings challenges for the course manager and the golf business, but a sustainable approach to course management will prepare you for what we will face.

The planet’s climate is shifting and we can all expect more extreme conditions and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns in the future. This will have a major impact on the way golf courses must be managed and it is important to ensure that the management approach at your golf club can cope with whatever the weather throws at it. A sustainable approach to course management offers the best chance of stability in unpredictable times.

Some of the issues the industry can expect to face as a consequence of climatic extremes include:

  • water availability and restrictions on usage
  • the ability to cope with extreme weather, e.g. providing adequate drainage and storm protection
  • extension or shortening of the plant growing season
  • increases in the number and variety of weeds, pests and diseases 
  • the need for a budget contingency for repair of weather related damage 
  • increasing cost of energy and fuel supplies.

To be aware of the implications that climate change may have to your golf course, the following steps will prove valuable:

  • gather available information on the climate change predictions for your area so you can prepare for the type of issues that you will face 
  • examine all your established operational practices to ensure that they stand up to the more frequent extreme weather conditions which you can expect
  • start the process of promoting the concept within the club that dry, firm and healthy turf creates the best playing conditions
  • open discussions with regulatory authorities on your options regarding the impact of coastal erosion, flooding and drought.

Golf courses can play an active and positive role in limiting the impact from climatic change by reducing energy consumption and making a commitment to becoming more energy-efficient. As a matter of course you should always record your management of energy, water, pesticides, fertilisers and waste so you can demonstrate your responsible approach towards the threat of climate change if challenged by regulators or pressure groups.