John Collier FAQ: Getting On Board

By Alistair Collier | From BG Magazine


I have been following various discussions, particu-larly those that relate to environmental and gover-nance matters. How important is it for us as a management team, and the board itself, to get ‘on board’ and embrace all of the requirements and how much time, money, and resources will this be likely to involve?


One of the most important things with the John Collier Survey, is that the structure will allow you to identify your own goals, and then set your own pace to achieve the objectives that your club has identified.

So, it is not a question of tackling all the challenges that your facility has at once – some of which may not even come into play at your facility – and this makes sense, because club’s budgets and staff structures vary enormously, as do the challenges that they face.

In terms of the specific questions, there are certain ‘must dos’, and examples of these, would be that every club, or venue, has a responsibility, both in terms of its environmental and governance policies, to re-cycle waste oil responsibly, manage water consumption, wherever, and whenever possible, and note the presence of and then remove alien vegetation. The John Collier Survey’s dashboard, allows you to track your club’s progress in specific areas and monitor results for as a long as the data is input. The last aspect relates to costs, because the only new costs, if any in terms of the survey itself, would be related to the small amount of time needed each month for the designated staff member / members to input the fresh data.

The upside of using the dashboard is that it allows you to track the progress made with interven-tions, such as collecting and storing run off water more efficiently. Over time, activities such as the modification in fertiliser programmes, the reduc-tion in the areas of maintained turf, will all make an impact on the bottom line and show as savings in terms of expenditure. The club’s board has an overarching responsibility and duty of care to ensure that the club is a good corporate citizen, which includes the need for it to be active in helping to protect the environment.

It is not surprising that Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate has been awarded the privilege of hosting the 112-year-old South African Open Championship, which is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and the Sunshine Tour, with Investec as the title sponsor for the next four years. The original farm was owned by South Africa’s greatest golfer and sports ambassador Mr Gary Player, and it was Mr Player’s fore-sight that sculpted the Blair Atholl golf course along the Crocodile River.

What we have witnessed, since it’s opening in 2007, is a layout that has consistently appeared in the top flight of golf courses in South Africa. Perhaps of even more importance, is how the property owners, club management, staff and members have, over the past 16 years, patiently built on their stewardship over the property.

The care has covered land usage, protection of heritage infrastructure, concern for nature, and the unique biodiversity of the area, management of water resources, turfgrass management, waste management, and an understanding of the club’s carbon footprint, in respect of the use of hydrocar-bons, electricity and an integrated pest management programme.

To validate this stewardship programme, the club recently went through a rigorous John Collier Good Governance and Environmental Compliance audit, achieving a GOLD LEVEL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE.

This is truly a noteworthy achievement, and an appropriate endorsement of GolfRSA’s decision to award the hosting of the Tourna-ment at Blair Atholl and to Investec for their sponsorship of the South African Open.

What Blair Atholl has done so effectively, is to understand the relationship between sport and the natural environment, sport’s poten-tial for making positive social and environ-mental contributions, the environmental impacts or ‘footprint’ of sport, and for its measurement and mitigation, to underpin good managerial decisions. In terms of environmental awareness, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP27 – came to a close on the 18th of November, with some positive outcomes. The primary focus of climate summits, remains to rapidly reduce emissions so that global temperature rises are kept to below 1.5°C.

The question posed most frequently, is what more can countries and their citizens do?

In respect of citizens, and more specifically golfers and golf clubs, the starting point is to understand your club’s carbon footprint. The best way to start developing this under-standing is to participate in the John Collier Annual Survey. The cost is minimal, and in reality, only the time it takes to collate the data, but there are many benefits.

Special thanks must be extended to all those clubs that participated in the 2022 John Col-lier Survey. The results will be published in the John Col-lier Annual Survey in March 2023 with the TOP CLUB award being made on World Envi-ronment Day, which is on 5 June 2023.

We extend an invitation to all clubs, through-out South Africa, to participate in the 2023 Survey.

In the event you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us via Cell phone, Email or through our website at