12 ideas to reduce CO2 emissions from a golf course

With conversations on sustainability on the rise, here are some ideas to think about to reduce greenhouse gas emissions both on and off the course.

2 mins

Increasingly, golf course managers and staff are being asked to consider sustainability in their day-to-day maintenance. This also includes questions on how to reduce CO2 emissions, which will improve the carbon footprint of the golf club. This article introduces 12 ideas to be considered to meet this requirement. Potentially some of these changes can be implemented at your course.


Reduce CO2 emissions at the golf course with these guidelines:

  1. Use electric or hybrid equipment: replace diesel-powered equipment at the end of its lifecycle with electric or hybrid alternatives that emit fewer emissions and rely on renewable energy sources. Fuel use is recognized as a major contributor to CO2 emissions from golf course maintenance.
  2. Adopt best practices for fertilizer use. The production, transportation and use of nutrients can add to emissions, so select efficient products. In terms of nutrient release, for example, choose controlled-release fertilizers and use them in the appropriate way to maintain your turf surfaces.
  3. Reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides by using integrated pest management techniques wherever possible. Having said that, the carbon cost of any integrated strategy you employ should also be considered carefully, especially in relation to the tolerance of weeds, and disease or pest damage at your site.
  4. Reduce water consumption: Implement water-efficient irrigation systems from sustainable water sources (on-site collection and re-use). Consider the total area irrigated, and implement an effective water management and wetting agent strategy for your high quality areas.
  5. Consider your top-dressing requirement. Excavation, processing and haulage of top-dressing has a carbon cost, and is a finite resource. Be mindful of this process, select a supply found close to your location, if possible, and check to see if sand materials can be recycled on your own site.
  6. Generate your own compost on site and consider mixing with top-dressing or utilizing it in garden areas. Avoid or reduce use of peat or fen-soil based materials.
  7. Evaluate your entire golf course estate. Identify areas for tree planting or undisturbed deeper rooting grasses for long term Carbon-capture and storage.
  8. Avoid unnecessary product applications. Ensure your maintenance program is suitable for your management area and have a clear plan for all products that are applied.
  9. If possible, use renewable energy sources: install solar panels or wind turbines to generate renewable energy that can power the golf course’s facilities, such as the clubhouse, maintenance shed, and irrigation system. Actively reduce your site’s energy consumption or consult with a certified “green engineer” to make a plan.
  10. Recycling is important. Implement a purchasing policy driven by recycled and recyclable products. All waste should also be sorted and managed by certified waste handlers.
  11. Incentivizing car share and green travel. Offer electric vehicle charging stations or consider operating a shuttle service to the nearest public transportation point.
  12. Select your partner companies and suppliers with sustainability in mind: do they also have a carbon reduction strategy in place, with which you can cooperate? It can be challenging to make a change on your own, but with the right partners and vision in place, major changes can be achieved.