Coastal golf courses face climate change threat, claims report

Royal Troon was named in the climate change report as a course under threat. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Golf's governing body has stressed that the game needs help to tackle the "wider issue" of climate change after a report highlighted the risk to coastal courses, including Open Championship venues.

Wetter winters and coastal erosion linked to climate change are threatening the future of golf, according to a report from the Climate Coalition, which was published Wednesday.

Golf is facing an increase in unplayable holes, winter course closures and disruption to professional tournaments due to increased rainfall, while rising sea levels could jeopardize all of the world's coastal courses by 2100.

That would have a massive impact on the 10-strong rota of Open Championship venues, with the Old Course at St. Andrews and Royal Troon singled out in the report.

In a statement, a spokesman for the R&A said: "The effect of coastal erosion on links courses is something that golf has been actively dealing with for many years.

"Through the GEO Foundation, and our own experts, we support sustainable management of golf courses and it is important that they take whatever measures they can to protect their courses.

"Broader climate change, particularly the impact of sea levels, is a much wider issue, however, and ultimately it is not something that golf or any other individual sport can tackle by itself.

"We have to continue to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and encourage policymakers to consider the impact it is having on our coastline."

One in six Scottish golf courses are on the coast, where they are at risk of erosion due to rising sea levels, caused by melting glaciers and oceans expanding as they warm, and more intense storms.

Royal Troon secretary Stephen Anthony stated the club has taken the issue of climate change seriously for many years.

"It's an alarming headline, and we will continue to monitor the situation as we have done for 30-odd years," Anthony said. "We have things in place to protect ourselves in the future.

"It's a legitimate concern and a global issue that needs addressing, but it's probably more of a concern for other courses. While we are close to the sea, it's more of an estuary and not the same as other venues that have the sea crashing against the coast.

"We are continually talking with the R&A and the other Open Championship venues and receive support from the R&A."

Steve Isaac, director of golf course management at the R&A, said in the report: "There is no question it is becoming a huge factor. I believe golf is more impacted by climate change than any other sport aside from skiing.

"We are feeling it now with increases in unplayable holes, winter course closures and disruption to professional tournaments. And the future threats are very real."

Cricket is also facing "disruption at every level" of the game as a result of wetter winters and more intense summer downpours driven by climate change, the report said.

UK football is also affected, particularly at grassroots level, by adverse weather, while the Scottish skiing industry could collapse within 50 years as winters become too mild for regular snowfall.