St Andrews – A Sustainable Open

Creating a Sustainable Open

This week The Open 2015 comes to St Andrews, welcoming the world’s best golfers and over 200,000 spectators for one of the year’s biggest sporting events. A big challenge for the organisers is making sure that an event of this size is as sustainable as possible…so how do they do it?

The Open 2015 venue, St Andrews Links, holds golfs global ecolabel, GEO certified®, and the event itself operates a “GreenLinks” programme for sustainable development, making sure that the natural environment around the courses is protected, that sustainable procurement practices are used, and that waste is disposed of responsibly. The GreenLinks programme is mentored by GEO (The Golf Environment Organization).

Visitors are encouraged to travel to the event by public transport or by car share in order to reduce the carbon footprint of their journey. Once on the Links, they will be reminded to keep to the official walkways to avoid trampling and damaging habitats, and will be provided with designated recycling points to allow waste to be segregated on site, diverting it away from landfill.

Scottish producers will be supplying The Open’s food, ensuring a sustainable menu by keeping produce local to reduce food miles. Items that cannot be sourced locally (e.g. tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas) will be Fairtrade to ensure that growers receive a fair wage for their produce, as well as a premium that is invested back into their local community.

As well as this, the management of the golf courses themselves will ensure that they remain important habitats for many important species of flora and fauna that have a year-round home in St Andrews. By tending to the gorse, heather, and grassland that borders the Links courses, their growth is kept in check to ensure a diversity of wildlife can thrive – from brown hare, stoats, and weasels, to skylark, goldfinches, and barn owls. Grass clippings and gorse chippings are then composted and given away for free by The Links Trust, returning this vegetation to the soil. The Links Trust also run a fantastic Environmental Blog, where you can stay up to date on wildlife sightings on the courses.

The commitment from The Open to deliver a sustainable event is clear to see. If you’re heading to the Old Course this week have a fantastic time – enjoy the local food, drink lots of Fairtrade coffee, and be sure to keep an eye out for native species hiding in the rough!


Be sure to check out the map of the Old Course, which highlights where wildlife can be seen at The Open.

For more information about wildlife management on the Links, download the Links Environmental Conservation Leaflet.