By Rowan Rumball, GEA ecology consultant
The Golf Environment Awards (GEAs) have now been part of the golf industry for over 25 years. So we thought it would be the perfect time for a bit of a freshen up.
From its inception in 1995 to today, the GEAs have celebrated the work of hundreds of clubs, their projects and their people, all of whom are conserving the natural landscape within golf courses and beyond.
The GEAs have also proved a success story for many people, and a springboard for bigger and better things in their career.
Over ten years ago James Hutchinson won Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year. His achievements were more than the plaque he received. He has been able to capitalise upon his conservation interests through working with St Andrews Links Trust and more recently with BIGGA.
More recently Mark Broughton won Environmental Golf Course of the Year in 2019 for an outstanding course that blended golf and nature perfectly. And at the 25th awards ceremony I had the pleasure to present Amanda Dorans of Dundonald Links with the Environmental Project of the Year for the nectar network initiative she set up. Which involved massive cooperation between golf clubs and other land uses to provide habitat for wildlife along the Ayrshire Coast.
Banchory Golf Club claimed the award for Operation Pollinator this year due to their dedication to conserving pollinating invertebrates through the provision of extensive areas of wildflowers.
With this in mind it is my pleasure to announce that the Golf Environment Award 2021 are now open for applications.
We understand that it is a difficult and uncertain time at the moment, however we also understand that nature does not stop whilst we sit in wait. The current situation provides more time to plan and to consider how, with additional input, we can all do even more for our native wildlife.
Now is the time to recognise the golf clubs and greenkeepers that are making a difference. It’s time to spread some positivity about the work greenkeepers do for the environment.
We are also using the current situation as an opportunity, to restructure the awards slightly and introduce some exciting new changes.
New for 2021 we will be introducing a panel of judges to decide the winners from the shortlisted of the finalists. This panel will be made up of representatives from the sponsors, greenkeepers, governing bodies and those that have aided environmental aspects of the golf industry. We hope that this change will give greater transparency through the judging process.
The main prize, other than the prestige of winning, will now be a £750 grant which may fully or partially fund an existing or proposed environmental or ecological project. We will also be offering each winner two places on the foundation BASIS course run by STRI. Finalists will all be offered free tickets to the awards night itself where the winners will be announced.
The four categories award will remain unchanged – Environmental Golf Course of the Year, Conservation Green Keeper of the Year, Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year and Operation Pollinator.
Any club may enter as many categories they would like for FREE. Shortlisted finalists will be chosen from these categories and receive visits from an STRI representative who will perform an onsite assessment depending on the current advisements from the government in relation to COVID-19. If onsite assessments are not possible alternative methods of assessment will be used.
I would like to take this moment to remind potential applicants that the awards are sponsored by The R&A, Aquatrols, Tillers turf, Wiedenmann, Syngenta and Ransomes Jacobsen and as such are completely free to enter yet are able to offer some amazing prizes.
All applications will have to be submitted by August 7th if you want a shot at winning the 2021 Golf Environment Awards. The awards are open to any club large or small and all entrants will be assessed upon their own merits, meaning everyone has a chance to win.
I look forward to reading your applications.