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Golf is a game rich in tradition and heritage, which owes its origin to nature. The first golf courses were formed entirely by natural elements and the game evolved to fit what nature provided.

However, like in many other sports, the pressures of modern life have tended to move the game away from its natural origins, as courses have increasingly become concentrated near to large population centres. Moreover, the growth of the game has spread golf far beyond its original climatic region, which has led to the need to confront new challenges in the field of course design and construction, and the management of turfgrass and water resources. The television image of manicured perfection reinforces the risk of golf becoming more and more disconnected from its natural environment. This is having a fundamental effect on how the game is played and perceived.

Golf has an enormous global following. It has the capacity to motivate and inspire. At the same time, when pursued without the limitations of a guiding environmental ethic, it can impact severely on eco-systems and communities. Golf is both influenced by, and exerts an influence on, the society and the natural environment in which it takes place. By drawing on its traditions and values, golf has therefore a remarkable opportunity, and a responsibility, to play a positive role in moulding the attitudes and goals of the world in which we live and to set an example in environmental stewardship.

Over recent years the golfing bodies in the USA and Europe have achieved a greater understanding of the environmental aspects of golf course construction and management. By using science as a foundation for research and education programmes in the areas of turfgrass management, sustainable development and environmental protection, it has been possible to develop initiatives and partnerships for the benefit of golf, the environment and people.

These actions represent long-term commitments, embodied in the philosophy of a ‘Green Games’ ethic: a combination of environmental stewardship, economic efficiency and social responsibility, which together form the cornerstones of the international sporting community’s Agenda 21. By subscribing to this ethic, and by continuing to support the principles and practices of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program and Committed to Green, the golf community declares its commitment to sustainability and respect for its natural heritage.

Signed on behalf of the golf authorities by:

F MorganTaylor (President, United States Golf Association)

Peter Dawson (Secretary, Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews)

Dieter Usner (President, European Golf Association)

Also endorsed on behalf of sport and the environment community by:

Pàl Schmitt (Vice President, International Olympic Committee and Chairman of IOC Sport and Environment Commission)

Claude Martin (Director General, World Wide Fund for Nature International)

Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel (Director, Technology, Industry and Economics Division, United Nations Environment Programme)

James Currie (Director General Environment, European Commission)

at Valderrama Golf Club, Monday 8 November 1999