As sustainability and responsible travel become more and more popular, golfers around the world are looking for ways to ensure their golf trip has as little an effect on the earth as possible. So how does one find eco-friendly, sustainable golf courses? First, it starts with an understanding of how much work goes into ensuring that BC golf courses use a minimum of resources, especially water, as well as how golf courses can create a net benefit to the local ecosystem. For example, turfgrass (as found on golf courses):

  • Prevents erosion
  • Regulates temperature
  • Replenshes the air
  • Sequesters carbon
  • Reduces runoff

Golf courses in many cases use effluent water, aka grey water or reclaimed water for irrigation purposes, as well as surface water, well water and storm-water rather than relying on potable water.

The golf industry allocates significant funding to research programs and training that help ensure golf courses are being managed in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. 

Victoria golf courses highland pacific

We have a host of British Columbia golf courses that are taking even more steps towards limiting their effect on the environment, and tips for planning your sustainable golf vacation. Here’s what to look for:

Geo Foundation Sustainable Golf is sponsored by GEO Foundation, the international non-profit entirely dedicated to helping accelerate sustainability in and through golf. Alongside many partners and friends, the Foundation is proud to support, recognize and celebrate the growing sustainable golf community around the world.

The GEO Certified label can be achieved following successful completion of the OnCourse programmes for golf facility operations, new golf development, or golf tournaments.

British Columbian golf courses that have achieved certification include Copper PointOlympic View, Highland Pacific, and The Golf Course at Sun Peaks. View a full list of certified golf courses here.

Audubon Certification

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf is an award-winning education and certification program that helps golf courses protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf. By helping people enhance the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide, improve efficiency, and minimize potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations, the program serves an important role in environmental stewardship worldwide.

Golf facilities applying for Audubon Certification have to prove compliance with strict guidelines set by the Audubon Society in each of the following six areas:

  • Environmental Planning
  • Wildlife and Habitat Management
  • Chemical Use Reduction and Safety
  • Water Conservation
  • Water Quality Management
  • Outreach and Education

Whistler Golf Courses

Featured Audubon Certified Golf Courses in British Columbia:

Fairmont Chateau Whistler: The golf course at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort became certified by Audubon in 1998, and was recertified in 2014.

Highland Pacific Golf: Certified in 2011, this Victoria golf course sits on 190 acres of land nestled between Thetis Lake Park and Francis King Park, home to hundreds of species of plant and wildlife, including several rare and endangered species. The course superintendent and maintenance crew take their responsibility for environmental stewardship very seriously to protect wildlife at Highland Pacific and enhance the environment.

Honourable mention - Arbutus Ridge: Certificate in Environmental Planning.

BC Green Business

The BC Green Business Initiative identifies practical and affordable ways for businesses to take climate action. From reducing environmental impact to enhancing social initiatives, they provide individual ways for businesses to help the planet, people, and community.  Currently Table Nineteen at Olympic View is a member.

Vernon Golf Courses

Other Environmentally-Friendly Initiatives

Predator Ridge Resort has committed to a range of eco-friendly initiatives, including EV charging stations, biodegradable packaging, and joining the world's largest sustainable tourism certification program. They are an EcoBase Certified Company - working to cut down their consumption of fossil fuels, waste and water. The golf course operations are "water bottle free," with ECO water coolers and biodegradable cups, while the resort diverts all food and beverage compostable waste away from landfills. They are part of the Clean the World movement; geared to collecting and recycling discarded soap and hygiene products, while all menu ingredients are locally and responsibly sourced from local farmers and vendors within 100 miles of the resort.

Whistler golf courses

Tips for Travelling Responsibly on Your Golf Vacation

Now that you have a selection of sustainable BC golf courses to choose from, take the extra steps to make your golf vacation eco-friendly and supportive of local economies with the following tips:

  1. Pack sustainably: Reusable utensils, water bottle, coffee mug, straw, and reusable grocery bags to cut down on single-use plastic.
  2. Eat local: Look for restaurants that focus on sourcing local, sustainable ingredients.
  3. Fly with the environment in mind: Fly direct as much as possible, purchase carbon offsets, and compare flights to find one with the lowest carbon emissions.
  4. Rent electric: If you can (and have a convenient charging station at your golf course/accommodations) consider renting an electric vehicle.
  5. Consider slow travel: Stay longer in a single location, rather than hopping around to cut down on emissions. Check out our suggestions for micro-vacations for inspiration.
  6. Pack light: Cut down on emissions with lightweight but quality luggage and choose carry-on over checked baggage.
  7. Select green accommodations: Look for eco-friendly accommodations dedicated to reducing water usage, embracing energy efficiency, and cutting back on single-use plastics and harmful chemicals.
  8. Seek out local experiences: Help keep tourism dollars in the local economy by choosing experiences owned and run by local operators.
  9. Dress natural: Ensure your golf and travel wardrobe is primarily natural fibres.
  10. Reduce water usage: Ensure you use a minimum of water for things like showers and laundry. Stick to a single towel during your stay (depending on length of visit) or pack your own quick-dry towel.

If you’re flying in, we’d recommend renting electric if you are able, with a variety of options available (and more entering the market all the time):

Where will your responsible golf vacation take you? Feel free to download or order a BC golf map, browse popular golf vacation packages, or talk to our golf travel experts to craft a customized itinerary!