New Territories, Hong Kong - The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course (Kau Sai Chau), Hong Kong, has become the first golf facility in Asia-Pacific to achieve the coveted GEO Certified™ award - an internationally recognised sustainability assurance from the Golf Environment Organization.
The award, which recognizes Kau Sai Chau as one of the most sustainably managed golf clubs in the world, is a significant landmark in the transformation of the island landscape, a former military firing range that was shelled repeatedly between 1930 and 1975.
Opened in 1995 and now featuring three of the busiest public golf courses in the world, it has become a shining light of environmental innovation featuring solar-hybrid ferries for transporting golfers to and from the island, and the world's first fleet of solar powered electric golf carts - both projects being part of a US$45 million environmental project initiated by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, in response to the pressing issues of global warming and climate change. These environmental initiatives have resulted in a restored landscape and thriving ecology at Kau Sai Chau which offers 54 holes of world-class golf, including the North and South Courses, designed by nine-time Major Champion Gary Player, and East Course, designed by golf course architects Nelson & Haworth.
Mike Carey, Head of Golf Operations at Kau Sai Chau, explained: "As a community project between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Hong Kong Government, the mission of Kau Sai Chau is to promote golf to the people of Hong Kong at affordable levels. In addition to this Kau Sai Chau has been restored into a healthy living landscape with diverse habitats through environmentally sensitive golf development.
"In addition to the practical challenges of developing island golf - rainwater capture, storage and reuse being the most significant - the vision for Kau Sai Chau was to provide the golfing public of Hong Kong with a world-class facility managed to the highest agronomic and environmental standards.
"The GEO Certified™ award recognizes the success of our efforts and, hopefully, is an inspiration for others, as the need for sustainable golf leadership in the booming Asian golf economy is more important now than ever."
The GEO Certified™ award is the most accessible, credible and comprehensive sustainability certification in golf, benefiting the environment, communities and golf businesses. The award is earned after a golf facility works through the GEO OnCourse™ programme of practical step-by-step, on-line guidance, making improvements appropriate for their site and facility. At the end of the process, an independent, GEO-accredited Sustainable Golf Expert visits and verifies each golf course, and creates a three-year Continual Improvement Plan with targets to be achieved before re-certification three years later.
Ross Perrett, part of GEO's global network of third party verifiers, undertook the on-site evaluation at Kau Sai Chau. (A full on-site evaluation report can be found here) He summarized his impressions by saying:
"With the vision and commitment of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, it's been possible to restore biodiverse habitats to Kau Sai Chau and a number of rare, protected and notable species are now thriving in the healthy environment.
"The investment was significant but the result is very impressive - and positive for the environment."
Benjamin Warren, GEO Communications Director, said: "It's clear the Kau Sai Chau team is dedicated to the continued realization of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's vision for sustainable golf. In 15 years, the surface of the island has been transformed into a living landscape that now hosts a huge diversity of indigenous plant and animal life, including many rare and endangered species, with hundreds of thousands of people experiencing this richness."
Cameron Halliday, General Manager of The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course "Our courses average in excess of 180,000 rounds every year, making our facility one of the busiest in Asia - and the sustainable golf experience sits at the very heart of what we offer. This includes transporting our customers to and from the island via our solar-hybrid ferries, offering them use of our solar canopy golf carts, and providing an opportunity for all to enjoy the natural environment of the island.
"Achieving this prestigious award enables Kau Sai Chau to showcase its commitment to providing environmentally friendly golf facilities on the world stage. Our team is very proud to demonstrate that well designed and well managed golf facilities can make a real contribution to biological diversity and environmental quality - and raise awareness of sustainability among golfers."
Gary Player, 9-time Major Champion and golf course architect "Working with The Hong Kong Jockey Club to improve the ecological health of Kau Sai Chau's landscape was a great privilege. I'm proud to learn that the management team has now achieved international recognition through the GEO Certified™ award, recognising as it does that both their world-class environmental stewardship and the sustainable development approach we applied to the site has resulted in such positive outcomes.
"For the billions of people in Asia the challenges of land and water availability are significant. Golf at Kau Sai Chau is affordable and accessible, with both the North and South courses easily walkable. The popularity of this public facility demonstrates that with the right site and the right approach to golf development, it's possible to achieve outcomes that benefit people, the environment and the game of golf."