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Preaching what they practice - Elmwood awarded GEO Certified label

February 6, 2013

From previously fertile agricultural land to a community club, training site, and sustainability centre of excellence, Elmwood Golf has been awarded golf’s international ecolabel, GEO Certified™. Sustainable golf at Elmwood is part of the curriculum for students from the UK and around the world and this new distinction for their course is a great example of teaching and leading by example.

The 18-hole course and practice facility in Cupar, just ten miles from the Home of Golf, is a maturing parkland course with a great variety of uses and involvement. Its multiple role as a society club, pay-and-play course and student base, within a woodland and grassland setting is unique and perfectly placed to deliver sustainable community, environmental and educational benefits.

GEO works with stakeholders to promote sustainability across golf, encouraging clubs to embrace sustainability, and rewarding those that meet high standards and set out continual improvement with the GEO Certified™ golf industry ecolabel.

Elmwood Golf Course

The sought-after GEO Certified™ ecolabel is awarded to courses which work through the free OnCourse™ sustainability support programme, and fulfil comprehensive criteria covering: Nature; Water; Energy; Supply Chains; Environmental Quality and Communities.

Following a third party on site audit, and committing to continual improvement actions for the next three years, Elmwood Golf Course can now proudly display its GEO Certified™ ecolabel as a leader in sustainable golf.

Carol Borthwick, SRUC Academic Development Manager Further Education said: “Since its conception, we have managed Elmwood Golf Course as an environmentally friendly training centre. We have won many ‘green’ awards over the years in recognition of this and we’re very proud to be able to add the prestigious GEO Certified™ ecolabel to our collection. The award is a huge boost to the staff and members, and sustainable golf course management will remain at the centre of our objectives.”

SRUC Greenkeeper Instructor Greg Kilgour said: “Achieving the GEO award means our work has really only begun - we have committed to continually improving and building upon the environmental aspect of golf course maintenance and sustainable business management. As the premier greenkeeping education institution, it is important that we encourage the next generation of greenkeepers to embrace environmental and community best practice.”

Some of the practical measures undertaken at Elmwood include:
• Creation of over 2ha of new ecological grasslands;
• Planting and management of over 9000 trees;
• Creation of new ponds and wetlands;
• Participation in Scottish Golf Union biodiversity study;
• Reused astroturf from St Andrews University sports pitches
• Use of timer-controlled lighting for driving range and car park
• Weekly coaching programme for local primary school children

From l to r: Jonathan Smith (GEO), Mike Wood (GEO Verifier), Greg Kilgour (SRUC Elmwood), Carol Borthwick (SRUC Elmwood), Richard Allison (GEO), Duncan Searle (GEO)

A team from the Elmwood course picked up the GEO accreditation at the recent annual British Turf Management Exhibition in Harrogate, organised by BIGGA (The British and International Greenkeepers Association).

After his on-site evaluation, Mike Wood, GEO Sustainability Associate (GEOSA), and accredited independent verifier said:

“The GEO Certified™ ecolabel adds to Elmwood’s established reputation for excellence, both in greenkeeping education in environmental stewardship. Their long-standing commitment to sustainability has paid off again, adding the GEO Certified™ ecolabel to awards they’ve received previously, showing that sustainability commitment is something to be to be upheld and improved over time. I was particularly impressed with the way that they successfully manage to balance the day-to-day functioning of a commercial golf facility with the unique demands of education and training.”

Richard Allison of GEO added: "Elmwood were equally strong throughout all six areas of their GEO Certified™ application, which is rare and impressive. They showed a wide range of sustainability initiatives and great attention to detail, with a desire to incorporate their continual improvement plan throughout the educational programme. "

Hamish Grey, CEO of the Scottish Golf Union concluded;

“This is a great example of what Scottish golf facilities can do in their local communities and landscapes day in day out. We encourage more clubs to follow Elmwood’s lead, embrace sustainability, make it part of their business and reap the benefits.”

You may use the following image (a higher resolution version is available on request):

(L to R) Jonathan Smith (GEO), Mike Wood (GEO Verifier), Greg Kilgour (SRUC Elmwood), Carol Borthwick (SRUC Elmwood), Richard Allison (GEO), Duncan Searle (GEO)

For more information about SRUC’s Greenkeeping and Golf Management department contact Audrey Peebles at or on 01334 658800. For details of the courses available at SRUC’s Elmwood Campus in Cupar, Fife, contact 01334 658856 or visit the website

Courses available at Elmwood: NC Greenkeeping, HNC/D Golf Course Management, as well as full-time and distance learning options, SVQ Level 2/3 Sports Turf Maintenance, PDA International Golf Course Management, HNC/D Golf Facility Management and PDA Golf Facility Management.

Elmwood Golf Course also currently holds the ISO14001 certificate, which is awarded to businesses that show strong commitment to operating in an environmentally sensitive way.

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