According to the British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) website there are currently some sixty million golfers worldwide. Whilst numbers are growing, various surveys conducted over the past few years show that the rate of growth worldwide has been affected by the global recession. In China, which embraced golf comparatively recently, growth has also been hindered by Government regulation in respect of the siting of golf courses.
With these restrictions in mind it is perhaps all the more remarkable therefore that the world’s largest golf club is situated in China. With twenty two championship courses spread over two sites the Mission Hills Resort has been developed with sustainability and environmental best practices in mind from the outset. Built on wasteland, the golf courses themselves have been developed using the contours of the land augmented by natural drainage systems.
Land management has been carefully planned with wildlife areas planted alongside the courses using flora and fauna which is naturally suited to the local environment. Natural alternatives to pesticides have also been used to minimise environmental impact. Other best practices include the use of solar power, treatment and recycling of all waste water and ice chillers in place of air conditioning. Together these are estimated to result in the saving of 3.5million tons of water and 2.56million kilowatt hours of power consumption per year.
The Mission Hills Resort team also see it as part of their responsibility to give something back to the local community. Mission Hills employs 15,000 people full time and have held over 450 workshops for employees on environmental best practices. As a result Mission Hills has succeeded in not only providing significant benefit to the local economy but also by attracting tourists and golf championships has helped to boost the broader Chinese economy. Along the way the project has planted over 280,000 square metres of trees and flora thereby transforming desolate landscapes into thriving ecological environments.
The Mission Hills Resort vision was to “build a community for international goodwill through golf and to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly leisure complex that harnesses the power of sport and leisure to make a positive economic cultural and environmental impact on the local community and the whole region.” That it has achieved its vision whilst gaining ISO 14001 certification and gained a worldwide reputation for quality and service is a tribute to the way in which the vision has been put into practice and it is therefore a worthy winner of a Green Apple Award.