The Links golf course at Fancourt, a prestigious leisure resort in George, has taken top green honours, becoming certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for the third consecutive time in five years. The 18 hole-golf course is the only course in Africa and one of only 890 courses in the world, currently awarded sanctuary status by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, a program helping management at golf courses to protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf.
The Links golf course, inspired by the famous links courses of the British Isles, is set in endless lush countryside against the majestic Outeniqua Mountains and is considered a masterpiece of golf courses. It was designed by dynamic team Gary Player, a golfing icon, and Dr Hasso Plattner, Fancourt estate owner, and features undulating, windswept terrain with a dune-style landscape.
Tara Donadio, director of cooperative sanctuary programs at Audubon International, the United States non-profit organisation facilitating environmental education and sustainable management of natural resources, says to qualify for the accolade, the team at The Links golf course had to demonstrate dedication to environmental responsibility in a number of categories. She says this included environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, water conservation, chemical use reduction and safety, water quality management, as well as outreach and education.
According to Donadio, the project at The Links golf course involved three years of environmental dedication driven by Chris Gomersall, Grounds and Gardens Manager at Fancourt, and was implemented by Jacobus Fortuin, golf course superintendent at The Links golf course. She says the team established an environmental management system improving performance in management of water, electricity, waste and invasive alien vegetation species, provided a safe habitat for wildlife along lakes and educated golfers on the importance of natural areas at the course.
“The Links golf course team have shown a strong commitment to the environment and have had success with many projects including building native habitats and implementing a strong outreach program. We commend the fine example they have set protecting environmental quality, promoting efficient operations, providing a sanctuary for wildlife and conserving natural resources for future generations,” says Donadio.
Lloyd Martindale, Golf General Manager at Fancourt, says the team is honoured to receive this coveted certification and trusts it demonstrates that golf courses can have a positive impact on the environment if constructed and managed properly. He says the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses is a vital resource for golf course management teams helping to enhance the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide.
“We will continue to drive sustainable management of our land, water, wildlife and other natural resources, minimising potential harmful impacts, reducing waste and improving efficiency of golf course operations. We aim to continue ensuring natural resources are sustainably used and conserved to preserve our eco-system for generations to come,” says Martindale.
With Fancourt having achieved a number of awards including The Links golf course being voted number one in South Africa in Golf Digest SA’s Top 100 Golf Course rankings for 2015 and 2014, as well as being listed in Golf Digest US as one of the 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World in 2014, the team is delighted to add this green recognition to their collection. Fancourt was also awarded Top Luxury Golf Resort in Africa in the eighth annual World Luxury Hotel Awards in December 2014.