The fifteenth edition of the John Collier Annual Survey on Environmental Compliance and Good Governance for South African Golf Courses is due for publication shortly. Notwithstanding the COVID 19 pandemic impacting upon golf clubs in South Africa, many clubs found time to participate in the 2021 Survey.

A brief summary of our research findings indicate that little progress has been made in formal compliance of the principles of good governance as set out in the King IV by organisations such as Golf RSA and the PGA. Our research further indicates a continued decline in the number of registered golfers in South Africa and more importantly a decline in the overall percentage compliance level for Golf Clubs in South Africa. These declines are compounded by the lack of the golf industry in giving closer attention to two major strategic risks facing golf in South Africa, namely governance risk and climate change risk.

In respect of governance risk, recent international scandals and misgovernance by certain sports organisations in South Africa have attracted several stakeholders to demand greater public scrutiny to restore public trust and reduce the risk of further unethical behaviour. The King IV principles encourage the introducing of more effective, transparent, ethical and democratic management, participatory governance processes and structures with participation of stakeholders.

In terms of climate change risk, more and more research has highlighted that Nature is declining at an unprecedented rate and we are fast approaching the cusp of irreversible tipping points with far-reaching effects on the economy, society and life as we know it. The consequences are just as alarming for business and humanity as they are for the environment. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are ranked as one of the top five threats humanity will face in the next 10 years. The window for action is narrowing at an alarming rate, while the cost of inaction is increasing.

The abovementioned two strategic risks need attention urgently, as ‘Business as usual’ is no longer acceptable. The fifteenth edition of the John Collier Annual Survey challenges GolfRSA and the PGA to lead the way by becoming more involved and vocal about the issues of governance risk and climate change risk.

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