In a lengthy statement posted on the French Golf Federation’s website, ffgolf president Pascal Grizot wanted to respond to attacks targeting golf courses and practitioners as the country is experiencing an unprecedented drought, and said the federation has not relaxed. their efforts towards ecological transition.
Dear graduates, dear graduates,
In the summer when France is facing a period of intense drought, I sent you a message about watering our golf courses.
This message was designed as a response to the unfair and sometimes violent attacks on our sport by certain politicians.
I have given you the actual figures on the water consumption of our clubs so that you can form your own opinions and opinions on this obviously sensitive issue. I have also brought to your attention the strict rules governing the watering of courses in the event of a major crisis.
While some of our areas suffered terribly from lack of water, pushing for extreme solutions, golf course managers kept pace. They acted as responsible and supporting actors. This is an undeniable fact.
Where necessary, they tried to preserve only the greens, ie 1-2% of the total surface of the golf courses, all over France. The remaining 98% was severely damaged by the lack of water.
Because it was necessary, some stopped watering altogether. 71 of our golf courses were affected. Citing the framework agreement signed with the Ministries of Ecological Transition and Agriculture that allows for green conservation, if some of the states have requested exemptions from governors, those in the surge zones naturally abstained.
The French media took over this nascent debate and appealed to us all. Of course, we responded to them in an individual and transparent way, supporting them with scientific and technical data. Ffgolf never refused to argue and was not withdrawn into himself. He didn’t because he didn’t have a reason.
If golf still needs to make progress and accelerate its ecological transition, it has nothing to be ashamed of or hide. Golf courses have already reduced their water consumption by 40% in two decades, often leading to very significant investments. And the industry is on the move. On our website and social networks, we regularly highlight our golf courses’ commitments to this and many other issues. In particular, I think about the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, in which golf courses play an important role, especially experts from the National Museum of Natural History and the National Office of Biodiversity with whom we actively work.
Golf not hidden
Golf is not reserved as it is good for the planet, as it is for many French. Our enemies better watch out.
Do they know that golf courses are a fortification against over-urbanisation, especially in various particularly dense demographic areas?
Do they know that golf courses help fight against artificial soiling?
Do they know that golf courses have fire barriers as has been proven time and time again in different places recently?
Do they know that golf course grasses are carbon capture sinks like forests and plants that limit them in most cases?
Do they still know that golf courses are cool islands in the event of a heat wave?
They don’t know any of this.
Because they ignore or pretend to ignore that golf is not a sport for the privileged. In fact, in France in 2021, football was the 4th sport in terms of number of licensees, after tennis and equestrian.
And it is this combination of ignorance that drives them to pronounce words that are irresponsible and extremely harmful to our sport.
Our critics ignored this fact and rushed to erroneous numbers to launch their attack. The disclosed water consumption of our sites was 36.5 times the actual national average and deliberately referred to an old parliamentary report because it contradicted two recent reports, both serious and professional.
Ignorance hurts. It hurts our executives, who employ a total of 15,000 people every day, and who, like any French company, are trying to grow their business and ensure it survives when they have to deal with the opposite elements. It’s hurting an industry that doesn’t wait until the summer of 2022 to accelerate its ecological transition.
That’s why I invite politicians and everyone who targets us to be restrained and measured. Analyzing rather than cursing. They also face problems that require answers. Christophe Bechu, the French Minister of Ecological Transition and Regional Adaptation, recently reminded that one billion m3 of drinking water is lost every year due to leaks in the aging networks of our municipalities.
After all, it’s not because we believe these attacks are unfair that the golf course has nothing to do with water management. Climate change, resource scarcity and the prospect of tightening regulations are forcing us to do more. Our managers are fully aware of this. And with the Federation’s momentum and support, you can be sure that they will take on this great challenge.
Solutions over and over
There are solutions. Some are at hand. In particular, I think:
– the formation of rainwater reserves: catchment basins, watersheds, etc.
renewal of irrigation systems: elimination of leaks, selective and economical irrigation system and adoption of new technologies.
– Use of grasses that consume less water, are resistant to water stress and diseases.
– use of all effective means to limit evaporation in water bodies.
These are not the only solutions. There are others, but they are not solely dependent on us. Changes in legislation are necessary in many cases. I am mainly considering using treated wastewater for irrigation.
What goes on in some of our neighbors should inspire us. The example of Spain interests me. It rains much less there than in France. However, especially thanks to recycling, the effect of drought is less. In our neighbours, 14% of wastewater is treated against less than 1% in France. Their agriculture and golf courses lack water.
No danger. If I have made an ecological transition to French golf in one of the three pillars of the project I am running with the steering committee members, it is because this question is decisive for the future of golf. Jérôme Paris, former vice president of ffgolf, made this clear when he included the French Golf Federation in this dynamic in the early 2000s.
Urgency, we know that. Bets, we know them. We are already taking action and will continue our efforts.
Rest assured of our full commitment. Together with the federation teams, we work tirelessly to put forward our arguments for the development of our sport in harmony with ecological problems. Our determination is unshakable.
I also count on all of you to stand behind your clubs and support them in this ecological transition where we must all be players. To that end, we will have to change our perspective and practices to protect our common good, the planet.
head of ffgolf