Saadiyat Beach Golf Club earns coveted Audubon sustainability certification

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, has become the first club in the Middle East to be awarded the coveted international Certification as an Audubon Certified Cooperative Sanctuary, thanks to an unwavering commitment to sustainability efforts over the past year. Owners VIYA Golf has also announced that this will pave the way for its other golf clubs in Abu Dhabi – Yas Links and Yas Acres – to follow in its sustainable footsteps.

Audubon International is a global leader for environmental and sustainability certifications. The organisation helps educate courses and staff to protect and preserve the natural environment and sustain their heritage sites, as well as recognising outstanding sustainability efforts that golf groups and courses are implementing.

Corey Finn, Golf Course Superintendent, Abu Dhabi Cluster at VIYA Golf, said, “We are delighted to have achieved the re-certication of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and this prestigious industry recognition. We’ve enjoyed working with Audubon and our stakeholders over the last few years and will continue to work on this project to preserve and enhance the natural habitat of Saadiyat Beach with their consultation. Thanks to all the team in Abu Dhabi for supporting this important initiative.”

Since opening in 2010, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has prioritised protecting and enhancing the natural wildlife and habitats in the area. The surrounding area is home to a number of animals such as humpback dolphins, hawksbill turtles and most famously mountain gazelles. In recent years, the club’s owners have implemented protection plans which have resulted in an increase of migrating birds and a growing population of mountain gazelles. Visits to Saadiyat Island are not only packaged as golf visits but entire golf and wildlife experiences and the club educates its members and visitors be aware of and stop play for wildlife while enjoying the golf course.

To gain this recognition and re-certification a course must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in several areas. These categories include environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management.

Gaining this recognition and certification takes significant effort and commitment from management, agronomists, and the superintendents on site. Some examples of how Saadiyat Beach Golf Club satisfy these categories are reusing, recycling, and saving water onsite. The club have also created designated habitats on the course for animals and are working on an accelerated plan to become plastic free.

One of the key stakeholders of golf in Abu Dhabi is VIYA Golf, which alongside Dubai Golf has ownership of many of the best golf courses in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including Emirates Golf Club, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, Topgolf Dubai, Yas Links, Yas Acres as well as Saadiyat Beach.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has hence been able to implement their sustainability efforts and ideas across surrounding golf clubs. By sharing superintendents and management groups, the sustainability model created will be replicated across other facilities. Additionally, VIYA Golf is prioritising sustainability and environmental protection on its website and social platforms which demonstrates a commitment to sharing best practices and putting Abu Dhabi on the sustainability map.

Christine Kane the CEO of Audubon International commented, “Saadiyat Beach has shown a strong commitment to its environment programme. They are to be commended for preserving the amazing natural heritage of Saadiyat Island by protecting the local watershed and providing a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property.”

The team at Saadiyat Beach have ambitious plans to keep encouraging their positive environmental growth. In the next few years all diesel buggies and vehicles will be replaced with electric and a huge effort will be made to reduce waste across the club.

The COP 26 conference will take place in Dubai in November which is a great opportunity for the team to celebrate the sustainability practices of Saadiyat Beach and recognise its importance in the world of golf and broader sustainability in the Middle East.  Furthermore, the implementation from VIYA Golf and Saadiyat Beach continue to bring recognition to its forward-thinking sustainability efforts and the Audubon re-certification helps highlight its importance in the golf course community.