Scientists tee up study into climate change impact on home of golf

The effects of climate change on the home of golf is to be investigated as scientists estimate almost £400 million worth of damage could be caused by coastal erosion around Scotland.

The Old Course at St Andrews will be investigated as part of a three-year project looking into challenges facing the sport. Picture: Getty

The Old Course at St Andrews is among several of the world’s most prestigious courses to be looked at in the three-year project.

The study will be led by Professor Bill Austin, from the University of St Andrews.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The move is part of an action plan by the R&A golfing body, which granted £90,000 towards the research looking into wider challenges facing the sport’s sustainability.

Mr Austin said: “The oceans and seas that surround many of the world’s top golf courses play a vital role in their future viability.

“Many are already seeing the impact of coastal erosion and flooding brought on by more storms and rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

“This research will allow us to consider all climate-related factors that will have an ever-lasting effect on the home of golf.”

The Coastal Change Action Plan is a key component of the R&A’s Golf Course 2030.

It was established in 2018 as an industry initiative to consider the impact of the changing climate, resource constraints and regulation on golf course condition and playability.

Researchers estimate almost £400m worth of property and infrastructure around Scotland’s coastline is at risk due to erosion.

The study will also look at opportunities for blue carbon – where the element is captured by coastal ocean eco-systems – and the role of long-term storage in Scotland’s shoreline habitats surrounding golf courses.

Scientists believe protecting these environments could reduce greenhouse gases that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

Steve Isaac, director of sustainability at the R&A, said: “We are funding these projects to develop best practice in sustainability and provide solutions to golf course managers that will help to sustain and improve the standard of golf course conditions and playability for the benefit of those who enjoy the sport.”

The Climate Coalition’s 2018 report that claimed Open Championship venues such as St Andrews and Royal Troon could be under water by the end of the century if sea levels rose even slightly as a result of climate change.

The Old Course at St Andrews is commonly known as the home of golf, with the sport first played on the links in the early 15th century.