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ALL TEN OPEN VENUES ACHIEVE GOLD STANDARD FOR SUSTAINABILITY

22 April 2016, St Andrews, Scotland: All ten host venues for The Open have achieved golf's coveted global eco-label, GEO Certified®. The certification recognises clubs which have shown a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, resource efficiency and community value.

The certification is administered and assured by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), the not-for-profit group dedicated to sustainability in the golf industry. The independently verified and publicly reported standard is internationally recognised as a credible and significant distinction.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, "The Open is played over many of Great Britain and Ireland's most cherished links courses. We are delighted that all ten host venues have demonstrated a long-term commitment to sustainability best practices by achieving GEO Certified® status. This is very much in line with The R&A's approach to sustainability and is certainly a key priority for us in the years to come."

Royal Troon, host venue for The 145TH Open from 10-17 July, was the fourth host venue to earn the certification, meeting criteria across the categories of nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community, while working closely with ecology experts to enhance the habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

This commitment to sustainability will be underpinned at the ninth staging of the Championship at Royal Troon through The Open's GreenLinks programme, which addresses the broader sustainability considerations around staging a major sporting event. It includes sustainable and ethical procurement policies for food and beverage, waste reduction initiatives, energy efficiency measures and a commitment to conserving the natural links landscapes which play host to the Championship.

The other Scottish host venues to achieve GEO Certified® status are St Andrews Links, which was the first Open venue to earn the designation and was re-certified in 2015 before staging The 144TH Open on the Old Course, Carnoustie, host of The 147TH Open in 2018, Muirfield, and Turnberry. In England, Royal Birkdale, host of The Open in 2017, Royal Liverpool, Royal St George's and Royal Lytham & St Annes have all earned the certification.

The most recent venue to achieve the certification is Royal Portrush, which will host The 148TH Open in 2019. The Northern Irish links will welcome golf's oldest and most international major championship for the first time since 1951. Course changes are being made in preparation for The Open with a focus on conservation of the natural dune habitat.

"This is a fantastic achievement and an impressive show of leadership from the ten Open venues and The R&A," said Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO. "As well as providing stable and safe habitats for some of the UK's rarest wildlife, and demonstrating some of the most sustainable turfgrass management in the world, a great deal of innovation is taking place on these Open venues. Solar power, rainwater harvesting, electric and hybrid machinery and partnering with local environmental and community groups are just some of those. This announcement is symbolic of growing momentum in the advancement of sustainability through golf and a very fitting way for the industry to celebrate Earth Day."

GEO provides tools, guidance and support through the OnCourse® programme which is available free to clubs worldwide. OnCourse® and GEO Certified® raise understanding and facilitate tangible progress in sustainability across the industry, as well as providing credible recognition.

Notes to Editors:

The Open is golf's oldest championship. Played since 1860 on links golf courses, it is the sport's most international major championship with qualifying events on every continent. For one week each year, the pursuit of the famous Claret Jug trophy is the focus of the sporting world, followed globally by millions of fans.

Organised by The R&A, The Open delivers an annual economic benefit of up to £100 million to its host region, while the Championship's commercial success supports the development of the sport, worldwide.

About GEO and GEO Certified®

GEO is a stakeholder-funded, not-for-profit organization, dedicated to helping the global golf community establish leadership in environmental enhancement, resource efficiency and community integration and value.

GEO Certified® is golf's internationally accredited and widely supported eco-label and is a member of ISEAL Alliance, the global assurance body for standards in sustainability.

OnCourse® is a free web-based tool available to golf facilities worldwide, guiding them around the priorities and resources for sustainability in golf, helping them easily and credibly share their efforts and value, and leading to GEO Certified®.

For more information, please visit www.golfenvironment.org

Certification and verification reports for all ten host venues for The Open can be found at www.golfenvironment.org

Further information:

The R&A - Communications

+44 (0) 1334 460000

media@randa.org