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All major sports events these days are expected to pay close attention to their environmental impact. To have thousands of people concentrated on one site for a few days creates many potential concerns: such as traffic generation, handling large volumes of waste, the amount of energy and water resources consumed, and disturbance to nature. The organisers of the World Golf Championships - American Express Championship are fully aware of this responsibility and are actively engaged in developing long-term environmental programmes and partnerships under the theme Committed to Green.

First priority must go to the golf course. Valderrama Golf Club is one of Europe’s finest tournament venues - it is also a proud advocate of good environmental practice. The playing surfaces are immaculate thanks to a carefully controlled integrated management programme, which balances water requirements, use of fertilisers and pesticides to minimise environmental impacts. Several wildlife sanctuaries within the golf course property provide valuable habitat for an impressive variety wild flora and fauna. In 1997, Valderrama was awarded the coveted title of ‘Fully Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary’, by Audubon International, a leading conservation organisation. In that same year, the Ryder Cup at Valderrama provided the launch pad for the European Golf Association’s Committed to Green campaign.

At this year’s American Express Championship, the tournament infrastructure, such as tents and contractor compounds are located away from ecologically sensitive areas. A feature of the World Golf Championships is their ‘clean’ appearance. Sign boards have been kept to a minimum, and where signage is used, it is of a standard look in keeping with the tone of the site.

To help reduce energy consumption and associated pollution, electric rather than petrol-powered buggies are used on the course, and increased mains power around the site means less diesel generators are required. The Costa del Sol lacks a public transport infrastructure but efforts to reduce private vehicle use include a shuttle bus service between Valderrama and the main hotels, and a courtesy car service for championship officials: VIPs, media, sponsors, players and staff.

The Championship office has also been communicating its environmental policies to suppliers and vendors as part of a wider ‘green’ purchasing initiative. In fact, communication is the key to making green policies work. At Valderrama there is a series of interpretative plaques situated around the course informing visitors about local wildlife and its interaction with the golf course environment. The Club has also published its own Environmental Statement and a book on the wildlife of Valderrama. For the Championship, waste recycling facilities are provided for spectators and contractors, so everyone can help make this a more environmentally friendly event.