The Carbon Neutral Golf Course project
received an environmental award

The Golf Gala event, held by Suomen Golfliitto (the Finnish Golf Union), handed out awards for success in the field in 2019. The recent leading project of Golf Course Association Finland, the Carbon Neutral Golf Course project, received the environmental award for 2019. The carbon footprint measurement of golf courses, which started as a pilot project at Meri-Teijo Golf, has been well received by the industry.

Text: Jukka Rimpiläinen. Photo: Juha Hakulinen

A calculation method specifically tailored for golf courses measures the courses’ carbon footprint and creates a proposal on how to reduce it. The measurement is based on the global warming effect caused by golf courses, utilizing life cycle assessment methodology and international calculation standards. The measurement results of different golf courses will also be compared with each other, allowing any deviations to be addressed immediately.

The project inspires people
Tommy Skogster, Chairman of the Board at Meri-Teijo Golf, who accepted the award at the Golf Gala, looked back on the moment the project was born in his thank you-speech.
– Five years ago, I was playing golf at Meri-Teijo with Jouni Keronen, Executive Director of CLC (Climate Leadership Coalition), and the conversation turned to Jouni’s expertise in environmental issues, said Skogster at the start of his speech.
– We strongly agreed that golf courses could act as pioneers in the issue. The Lappeenranta University of Technology implemented the calculation method used for the pilot project at Meri-Teijo Golf, he adds.
After receiving the results from Meri-Teijo Golf, Skogster decided to present the project to the Board of GCAF, of which he was a member. The GCAF Board took a closer look at the project and saw that it would fit in perfectly with the association’s strategy – the desire to increase the vitality of the courses.

An international project
Dozens of Finnish golf courses were involved in the project very quickly, so people started looking into the international potential of the project. In February 2020, the calculation model was presented at a conference of the Golf Course Association Europe to 150 European golf influencers.

The GCAF also hosts an annual golf climate seminar, which has been attended by leading experts from various fields.

– Everyone has to do their part when it comes to environmental issues, emphasizes Antti Hiltunen, Managing Director of GCAF. Golf courses have several ongoing environmental programs around the world, but the Carbon Neutral Golf Course project provides a clear number that can be easily calculated. And, as the saying goes, if you can measure it, you can improve it! We already know that using renewable biofuels in the diesel-powered maintenance equipment of golf courses reduces their carbon footprint by more than 80 %.

Let’s save the planet – one golf course at a time!
For more information on the event and the Carbon Neutral Golf Course project, please contact Managing Director Antti Hiltunen, GCAF.
Tel. 0400 355 434,

Carbon Neutral Golf Course

Golf Course Association Finland (SGK) launched a project in 2017 to measure the carbon footprint of golf courses with Meri-Teijo Golf as the pilot course of the project. The project received substantial backing from Chairman Jouni Keronen from Climate Leadership Coalition and the 50 member courses of our association. Following seminar speeches underlining the importance of the topic, already about twenty Finnish golf courses have initiated measures to calculate their carbon footprint.

The presentation by Jouni Keronen, expert in climate change, in the autumn seminar 2017 opened the eyes of many to see what climate change is all about. The impact of greenhouse gases on, for instance, rising seawater temperatures is already causing extreme weather conditions around the world. Each of us is responsible for the environmental friendliness of our own actions, and golf courses can lead the way in this process. Carbon footprint measurements provide golf courses with a tool for developing their activities towards the aim of becoming carbon neutral golf courses.

Aiming for an Environmentally Friendly, Carbon Neutral Golf Course

Measuring the carbon footprint of golf courses was kicked off on a larger scale in spring 2019. The ambitious goal was to measure the footprints of 20 Finnish courses, which would produce an interesting set of data for comparing the courses with each other. Ten or so courses had already signed an agreement with SGK in March 2019, and the same number of interested courses were waiting in line, which shows how the field wishes to take a leading role in this crucial matter. The announcement of the Finnish Golf Union (6 March 2019) about establishing a climate fund supports the goals of a carbon neutral line of business.

Strategic Tool for a Golf Course Board

The carbon footprint is calculated by measuring the global warming impact of a golf course using the life cycle assessment method and international accounting standards. The calculation is based on a measurement according to the GHG Protocol, where the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the activities of the golf course are divided into the following: 1: GHG emissions, which are a result of own activities, 2: GHG emissions that come from the production of purchased energy, and 3: GHG emissions, which are an indirect result of the company’s activities, but which the company cannot directly control.

Process that Fuels Results
The carbon footprint of a golf course is calculated as easily and clearly as possible from the customer’s point of view. Our experts take care of the data collection on golf courses in cooperation with the customer, measuring the carbon footprint of the golf course in its current state. In addition to the current state, a separate reference result is also calculated for the course, which takes into account the impact of potential development measures on the overall carbon footprint. The calculation criteria and results are delivered to the customer in the form of a carbon footprint report. Due to the standards and restrictions, the measurement results of different golf courses are mutually comparable.

How to Get Involved

Carbon Neutral Golf Course is a key project of Golf Course Association Finland, and you can get involved in this important environmental work by contacting the Managing Director of the Association Antti Hiltunen. As part of the project, we will organize high-level regional environmental seminars together with public authorities, cities, municipalities and influencers in the golf industry.
The project has also sparked interest abroad and will be presented in the seminar of SGK’s parent association, Golf Course Association Europe, in Cascais in February 2020.

More information about the project is available from:
Antti Hiltunen
Golf Course Association Finland
Tel. +358 (0) 400 355 434

Climate change threatens the future of golf

This video was filmed at the end of March and the tempereture in Finland was 13 ° celcius. Some golf courses where all ready open for players. Sounds good, but is it? What does global warming mean to golf? Listen what Jouni Keronen, Executive Director of Climate Leadership Coalition, has to say.

Watch the video!