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A national strategy, which will place Scotland's golfing environment at the forefront in Europe, was unveiled today...
A national strategy, which will place Scotland's golfing environment at the forefront in Europe, was unveiled today at Gleneagles.

The strategy outlines ways courses can enhance Scotland's environment by:

- Enhancing course management practices to attract more wildlife

- Reducing the unnecessary use of pesticides, fertilisers and chemicals

- Placing more emphasis on environmental training for greenkeepers

- A management programme which sets a benchmark and awards those courses who show an awareness of environmental factors.

Deputy minister for environment and rural development, Allan Wilson, who was also presenting the 2002 Golf Environmental Excellence Awards, said the strategy was a 'beacon for the sport'.

The minister added:

'The rules of golf were constituted in Scotland and now our golf courses are showing that the game is more than just a sport but a hugely important contributor to Scotland's natural and environmental heritage.

'Our golf courses are renowned the world over for their quality and scenery. The natural obstacles which have evolved over generations have fostered immense challenges for professional players and flustered many an amateur.

'Scotland's golfing organisations have been working tirelessly on the green credentials of this strategy which will provide for a unique platform in Europe.

'The 530 golf courses in Scotland are hugely important for the challenges they afford for the environment. Those courses cover more than 74,000 acres and are home to a rich variety of wildlife.

'The effective management of those courses is a key test to sustainable development and the strategy embraces much of the executive's commitment to improve the environment both for our enjoyment now and for generations to come.'

The 2002 Environmental Excellence Awards are the second batch of the awards, the first being announced in February 2001. Four clubs in Scotland, and 12 in total across Europe have achieved this benchmark. This year's awards were presented to:

- Mortonhall Golf Club, Edinburgh

- The Duke's Course, St Andrews, Fife

- Pumpherston Golf Club, West Lothian

These three courses are following on from Elmwood (Cupar, Fife), Gleneagles, Kilmacolm and Linlithgow golf courses, who were among the first 12 in Europe to receive the award in 2001. Many other courses across Scotland and throughout Europe are now working towards this standard.

The Scottish Golf Environment Group was born out of partnership set up in 1996 between the Scottish Golf Union, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and governmental and non-governmental agencies to improve the environmental performance of golf courses. It acts as a conduit for feeding information between the golfing and environmental sectors. It is a unique resource for improving the environment of Scotland's golf courses, not found anywhere else in Europe.

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