The Italian Golf Federation takes the protection of the environment very seriously, and is at the forefront in the promotion of awareness campaigns regarding the environmental sustainability of Italy’s golf courses.
Following the footsteps of English naturalist David Stubbs, who instituted the Committed to Green award twenty years ago, the Italian Golf Federation launched the ‘Impegnati nel verde’ eco golf certification program in the year 2000.
The Italian program is based on the principles of the Valderrama Declaration (1999), in which golfing bodies in the USA and Europe agreed to use science as a foundation for research and education programmes in the areas of turf grass management, sustainable development and environmental protection.
Even though Italy was not considered a golf destination back in the late 1990s, an Italian workgroup carried out a comprehensive research between 1996 and 1999 that resulted into two handbooks: “Eco-compatible construction of Italian golf courses” and “The eco-compatible maintenance of Italian golf courses”, confirming the country’s commitment to sustainability and respect for its natural heritage.
One of the aims of Italy’s Committed to Green program is to help eco golf clubs to obtain the prestigious GEO international environmental certification by the Golf Environment Organization. Other objectives include the development of policies for the eco-sustainability of Italian golf courses, the reduction and optimization of the use of natural resources, and the improvement of the image of golf, a sport that has been often attacked by environmentalists.
A variety of Italian eco golf courses have obtained or are on course to receiving the ‘Committed to Green’ certification in one or more of the following areas:
Only 4, so far as of September 2014, are GEO Certified and have thus obtained the most prestigious environmental award at international level: Golf Club La Pinetina (Lombardy), Golf Club Udine (Friuli Venezia Giulia), Golf della Montecchia (Veneto), Is Arenas Golf & Country Club (Sardinia) and Terme di Saturnia Golf Club (Tuscany).
BioAgriCert is another Italian certification awarded to the most eco-friendly golf courses: specialized agronomists evaluate whether the grounds are maintained with natural products, and certify that the golf course management is carried out with eco-compatible techniques. One of the golf courses that has the BioAgriCert certification is the Argentario Golf Club in the Maremma Tuscany, which also features an organic vegetable garden on its grounds.