Arlette Anderson, The R&A’s Director of Sustainable Golf, discusses what golf clubs must do to welcome in a more sustainable future... Anyone who has glanced out of a window over the last month or so will need no reminding about the odd weather patterns that seem to be the norm. When we think about sustainability, we instinctively think about the impacts of climate change. The subject, though, is much wider – covering not only environmental aspects but economic and social too. Steering golf through such a vast and complicated topic is Arlette Anderson, The R&A’s Director of Sustainable Golf. Few have more experience in the field, having worked for a series of huge companies – including BNP Paribas Real Estate, RICS, Royal Mail, Balfour Beatty Rail, Gatwick Airport, and Vodafone – where she advised and supported those organisations to become more sustainable. The challenge facing her is considerable, not only in directing the sector and a host of governing bodies and stakeholders but also in spreading best practice and pressing home the importance of sustainability to thousands of golf clubs. Arlette sat down with the GCMA to discuss her role, how The R&A is leading the way in researching and promoting sustainable golf, and how our sport needs to adapt to some immediate challenges as well as those pressing on the horizon… Golfers can have a narrow interpretation of what sustainability is – can you define it for us? Sustainability means a balance between economic, social, and environmental aspects. Essentially, it's around what an organisation, or a club, can do in terms of meeting its needs now without compromising the future needs it has. When we’re looking at sustainability issues in relation to a golf club, let’s firstly focus on environmental issues of sustainability. That is what the outside space is all about. Members and players see environmental aspects of sustainability at their golf clubs. That is my primary focus around The R&A’s sustainable golf approach – the environmental sustainability issues and, in particular, the turf grass aspects, or the agronomy aspects: the presentation of that golf course and the facilities themselves. You’ve got considerable experience in sustainability… My experience covers a range of different sectors and environments - predominately around critical infrastructure. But when you're talking about sustainability, it has been around for about 25 years. There is now the realisation that it’s reached this critical point and particularly around the impacts of climate change. My experience is in a variety of different areas in terms of sustainability leadership and getting those organisations to become more sustainable. Whether that is aviation, telecommunications, or critical infrastructure, organisations are now realising the important part they play in addressing some of the sustainability challenges for them to continue in the future. What attracted to me about golf? It’s an outside sport and when you’re looking at the environmental issues of sustainability, I think golf has the potential to realise the positive impacts it can have in some of those challenges of the...
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