Sustainability in Golf

A Program of

Experience Green

Experience Green hosted the nationally recognized Sustainability in Golf symposiums in 2013 and 2014 that provided education and connected resources to promote sustainable golf practices.  We now shift to evoke action for sustainability at Beaufort County, SC golf facilities through golf’s global eco-label, GEO Certified®. WATER and ENERGY are set as immediate topics for the data driven scorecard for sustainability approach. These align with global, but also local priorities as determined by EG's recent Baseline Sustainability Assessment of Hilton Head Island.

RBC HeritageOur efforts invite engagement of the Beaufort County, SC region, including the RBC Heritage PGA TOUR event.  We are pleased to share success with the 2016 RBC Heritage in generating the first RBC Heritage Sustainability Review. This collaboration facilitated by Experience Green, included the RBC Heritage operations team, RBC, Sea Pines Resort, GEO and i2Recycle.  It is the first of its kind in North America and on the PGA TOUR.


The Sustainability in Golf initiative seeks to support golf facilities' efforts to:

• Minimize environmental impacts in the areas of waste, water, energy and air quality.
• Give back to and engage the community with educational experiences that promote sustainable practices, the natural environment and the game of golf.
• Promote a supply chain that has responsible social and environmental practices.
• Create innovative approaches to measurably minimize negative environmental impacts, improve economic bottom lines and grow a community culture for sustainability.

CLICK HERE to read full Sustainability in Golf policy

WATER and ENERGY are set as immediate topics for the data driven "scorecard for sustainability" approach. These align with global, but also local priorities as determined by EG's recent Baseline Sustainability Assessment of Hilton Head Island. 

DOWNLOAD Baseline Sustainability Assessment Project Summary



The 2015-2016 Sustainability in Golf program will offer golf facility operators the following:

• Four (4) workshop sessions (Dec, Jan, Feb, March) featuring award winning golf facility practitioners on topics such as sustainable supply chain, value of data, waste management, communicating success and more
• Access to references tailored for the Hilton Head Island Area golf community
• Hands on support for the GEO OnCourse® program and full GEO Certification
• Inclusion in the Hilton Head Island Area profile for the first International Sustainable Golf Destination award application, garnering associated marketing benefits

Sustainable Golf Destination Award
In 2016, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators and GEO will present the first International Sustainable Golf Destination award. With your facility’s participation in this program you will be included in the Hilton Head Island Area’s application to be considered for this prestigious award.


Photo courtesy of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort


There is no cost to participate, but registration with Experience Green and in the GEO OnCourse® program is requested.

Workshop 1 of 4: Tuesday, December 8th, 3-5pm
Sea Pines Resort Testimonial and Case Study

Presented by Tony Wartko, Director of Facility Services, Sea Pines Resort and Mike Bennett, i2recycle
Sea Pines Resort is home to the RBC Heritage PGA TOUR event and is the first golf facility in South Carolina to become GEO Certified® at all three courses.  Among its successes is the impressive gain of 90 tons of waste diverted from the landfill in 2011, to 425 tons in 2014 through vermin culture, recycling, and other waste diversion methods.

Workshop 2 of 4:   Tuesday, January 5th, 3-5pm
The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay Case Study

Presented by Paul Carter, CGCS, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay
As recipient of the 2015 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship from the GCSAA, Paul has achieved specific success in reducing energy consumption.  In 2013, the facility’s innovative electric equipment initiative reduced annual gasoline consumption by over 9,000 gallons, point source carbon dioxide emissions by over 182,000 pounds of carbon and operational expenses for the State of Tennessee by over $21,000.00 annually.

Workshop 3 of 4: Tuesday, February 23rd, 3-5pm
Building Consensus for Sustainability in Golf

Presented by Clyde Johnston, ASGCA, Clyde Johnston Design, and Teresa Wade, MBA, CT Graduate Studies Sustainability, Sustainable Solutions
Learn how the parts of the golf facility affect the whole, via a case study of the River Landing facility in Wallace, NC. Learn how minor alterations to design, turf area and vegetation choices can reduce environmental and financial costs, and also enhance brand and member relations.  The workshop will also provide simple but effective strategies to strengthen your internal team and how to communicate to members, visitors and the community, the what, why and how for changes to advance sustainability.

Workshop 4 of 4:   Wednesday, March 16th, 3-5pm
Documentation that Delivers
Presented by Anthony Williams, CGCS
The value of sustainability initiatives is often difficult to communicate; decision makers need to “see the numbers” to consider ROI for projects. It is often said that “without proof, there is no truth”, hence, the need to document what, why, how and more of resource consumption, pilot projects, community response, etc.

Learn from Anthony’s 30 years of experience about documentation to support sustainability initiatives, reduce risk, support government relations and policy adherence, garner media, qualify for awards, communicate to stakeholders and more.

*GCSAA, CMAA and PGA continuing education credits available. All sessions held  at The Sea Pines Resort Welcome Center on Hilton Head Island.

Contact Teresa Wade to confirm your participation.

Include in the email if you have signed up for the GEO OnCourse program (no cost, takes about 15 minutes - click here). Your familiarity with the program will enhance the Dec workshop value for you. Once you are registered with GEO, we'll add you to the website as a program participant.

In your email, send names and email addresses of your team members that will be contributing to your progress so we can include them in communications.

We invite the Hilton Head Island Area golf community to join this effort (includes all of Beaufort County), and local golf associations, golf facility suppliers, community groups and individuals’ to support of this important effort.  This program is supported by sponsorships, grants and donations.



program partners

hosted by

Thank you to our event partners for supporting this important initiative for the golf industry and our communities' sustainability.



Johnston DesignsRBCSyngenta


Rain BirdLowcountry GCOASTI


Palmetto CoopCorbin Tiff

2015 – 2016 participants

We are proud of the leadership from our local golf community with efforts to ensure long term viability of the Hilton Head Area golf destination. Each has committed to continual improvement and measurement to manage for success. As of April 2016, only two facilities in SC and nine in the US have achieved the GEO Certified© status, golf's respected eco-label that is guided by international standards.
Find out who is doing what in the Hilton Head area for this Sustainability in Golf initiative as part of the Golf Environment Organization's global platform.

RBC HeritageA collaboration facilitated by Experience Green, that included the RBC Heritage operations team, RBC, Sea Pines Resort, GEO and i2Recycle resulted in the first RBC Heritage Sustainability Review.  It is the first of its kind in North America and on the PGA TOUR.  The primary purpose of this Review is to highlight sustainability initiatives in place at the 2016 RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing while simultaneously establishing an initial baseline report to support continuous improvement moving forward. Secondly, this Re­view provides recommendations of potential improvement areas, as well as outline the road to certification. 

Sea Pines

Harbour Town Golf Links, Heron Point, Ocean Course

Sea Pines Resort Certification Report – Sept 2015

Sea Pines Resort Achieves International Sustainability Award - Nov 2016

Beyond the Fairway Beyond the Ropes - April 2016

“Becoming GEO Certified prompted us to review our processes, but also celebrate successes and identify areas for continued improvement. It engaged team members from many departments, which was a valued connectivity exercise.”
Tony Wartko, Director of Facility Services The Sea Pines Resort

“While we do a lot for sustainability, we needed to find a way to keep score of what we are trying to accomplish. The free OnCourse© program managed by GEO does that in a format that makes you think, document, and look for ways to constantly improve. We saw the value of sustainability for our business, and we are working now on new initiatives ahead of applying for recertification in three years. We see every day as an opportunity to improve.”
Scott Adams, General Manager, Old South Golf Links
“We are proud to collaborate with community initiatives that benefit our facility, but also the Lowcountry destination that is known for golf and prioritizing care of the natural environment” said Andy Hinson, Director of Golf at The Legends.

L to R: Clyde Johnston, Golf Course Architect, Experience Green Board of Directors Teresa Wade, Founder, Experience Green Russ Hadaway, Golf Course Superintendent, The Legends Doug Moss, Golf Course Assistant Superintendent, The Legends Cody Carter, Assistant Golf Professional, The Legends Andy Hinson, PGA Head Professional, The Legends Colonel. Jeffrey Fultz, Chief of Staff, Marine Corps Recruit Depot. Parris Island

in the media

The Legends GC at Parris Island (S.C.) Earns Environmental Certification
The facility is the first military golf course worldwide to earn the certification through the Golf Environment Organization, which recognizes facilities for their commitment to the protection of nature, efficient use of resources and providing positive community value.
September 28, 2016

Legends at Parris Island receives Golf Environment Organization Certification
The course is also part of a wider sustainability in golf initiative in the Hilton Head Island area, joining 14 other local golf clubs working together on a collective sustainability in golf initiative.
September 27, 2016

Heritage Works to Improve Sustainability
The Heritage Classic Foundation has committed to taking steps to make the annual RBC Heritage PGA TOUR event more sustainable. It has set the goal to earn golf’s eco-label, GEO Certified in 2017.
September 23, 2016

Golf is Getting Greener (and we’re not talking about the grass)
Golf courses can have an impact on our natural environment. However, we are seeing more golf facilities embracing the economic, environmental and social benefits of responsible golf course operations. green@RBC,
September 2016

Beyond the Fairway Beyond the Ropes
The 2016 RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing and host venue GEO Certified© Sea Pines Resort shows their commitment to the environment and local community.
April 14, 2016

Old South Golf Links Celebrates Sustainable Golf Recognition
Old South Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, celebrates gaining golf's global eco-label, GEO Certified©
March 29, 2016

Sustainable Golf Destinations Award Launched
Hilton Head and The Algarve are Distinguished in the launch of a New Sustainable Golf Destinations Award Ahead of the 2016 IAGTO Golf Tourism Awards
January 26, 2016

Sea Pines Resort Achieves International Sustainability Award
The Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head Island, has been recognized for its sustainability efforts by gaining golf's global eco-label, GEO Certified©
November 2, 2015

Golf Courses Lauded in 2016 IAGTO Sustainability Awards
October 8, 2015

2016 IAGTO Sustainability Award Winners Announced
October 8, 2015

Who are these people? Teresa Wade, Founder of Experience Green
Superintendent Magazine
November 19, 2014

Golf Environmental Experts Meet in South Carolina
October 22, 2014

Zero Waste Workshop Added to Sustainability in Golf Event
Golfdom Magazine
September 11, 2014

Zero Waste Workshop Added to Sustainability in Golf Event
Superintendent Magazine
September 11, 2014