GEO Certification

Golf de Lavaux achieves GEO Certified® certification!

On September 27, 2023, Golf de Lavaux was awarded GEO Certified® certification by the GEO Foundation, making it the 39th Swiss golf course to be so certified. This is a remarkable achievement and a milestone for our club!

The "Golf Course 2030 Switzerland" strategy stipulates that by 2027, all clubs affiliated to the Swiss Golf Federation must be GEO or ISO 14001 certified, or have anchored their commitment to sustainable development in their bylaws. 

Sustainable development is based on the three pillars of economy, ecology and society. For Swiss Golf, sustainability has become a cornerstone of golf culture and will shape the future of the sport in Switzerland. Swiss Golf aims to showcase the ecological, economic and social aspects of golf, and to raise awareness among golfers of the importance of sustainability for their favourite sport. 

The Golf Environment Organization (GEO) Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Scotland, developed and manages the OnCourse® digital tool, which is the world's leading system for measuring sustainability in golf. It was this tool, chosen by Swiss Golf for Swiss golf courses, that was used to assess sustainability at Golf de Lavaux. The assessment was carried out by GEO-accredited independent expert Hector Forsen, on the basis of a detailed questionnaire submitted to the club in advance. On September 7, Mr. Forsen was also at Golf de Lavaux to carry out an in-depth audit of the facilities and course before finalizing his report. The report is structured around three main themes: nature (biodiversity, course maintenance and pollution prevention), resources (water and energy management, use and recycling of materials), and community (public relations, multifunctionality of golf facilities, inclusiveness and integration into the local fabric).

The report notes in its introduction that Golf de Lavaux "is professionally managed, continually improves sustainability, considers and protects nature in its activities, collaborates effectively with local stakeholders and authorities, and contributes to the development of golf in Switzerland."

Golf de Lavaux's ecological balance sheet is an important part of the evaluation. GEO® certification recognizes all the efforts made by our club since its creation in the field of environmental protection. The final report notes the creation of ecological compensation areas in collaboration with the cantonal authorities, the planting of numerous trees (including high-stemmed fruit trees under the aegis of the Pro Specie Rara foundation), the existence of ecological zones and other refuge areas for wild fauna and flora on the course, and the installation of numerous nesting boxes for endangered species. Among other initiatives taken by the club in recent years, the report highlights efforts to limit the use of fertilizers, the use of plant waste in a local biogas production facility, and the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new caddy room.

GEO certification is a dynamic process, subject to periodic review. The final report contains a number of recommendations that will help our club to further improve its sustainability record in the years to come. 

The Board would like to thank our Director, Mr Alexander Brülhart, our Course Manager, Mr Richard McGlynn, and all our staff for their commitment and efforts in this venture.

  • 2022 : finalizing the certification application
  • 2023 : Certification GEO Fundation

Nature in Lavaux

Nesting boxes for endangered species

In recent years, in collaboration with the Groupe des Amoureux de la Nature en Lavaux (GANaL,, a number of nesting boxes have been installed on the golf course. These nesting boxes are mainly intended for the hoopoe and the wryneck, two species that had disappeared from our regions, victims of habitat modification.

The hoopoe is one of our country's most beautiful bird species. It is a medium-sized bird, with orange plumage and rounded black and white wings. It has an erectile hoopoe with black tips and a long, arched beak with which it searches for larvae and insects in the ground. The hoopoe winters in the Sahel and migrates north to nest. It prefers high-stem tree orchards and dry-stone walls, which provide cavities where it can raise its young. The hoopoe can be seen in Switzerland from mid-March to September. Since the 1970s, it had disappeared from the entire Plateau. Today, it is present mainly in Valais; a few pairs have also been observed in Ticino, Graubünden and the Lake Geneva region, notably on the Golf de Lavaux course.

The wryneck, a small bird with bark-coloured plumage providing excellent camouflage, is a woodpecker unlike any other.  It feeds almost exclusively on ants, which it catches on the ground with its long tongue. Like the hoopoe, it winters in the Sahel and returns to our region in mid-March. This fascinating bird has developed the ability to imitate a snake to ward off potential predators: when it feels threatened, it contorts its body and swings its head, twisting its neck; if this is not enough, it even sticks out its tongue and hisses, like a snake ready to attack!  Over the last few decades, the number of wrynecks has declined significantly, mainly due to the uprooting of high-stem tree orchards. In recent years, thanks to the implementation of targeted protection measures, wrynecks have once again been observed in the Lavaux region.

Both the hoopoe and the wryneck are identified as endangered species on the red list of the Swiss Ornithological Institute in Sempach. The installation of nesting boxes specifically adapted to these two species on the Golf de Lavaux course, as well as the presence of high-stem fruit trees, contribute to the conservation of viable populations in Switzerland.

Ecological zones

Playing golf has an impact on the environment around us. Fairways, greens and other playing areas are not conducive to the flourishing of flora and fauna. It is therefore important to create "resting areas" for nature, as we can see in our ski resorts. The Golf de Lavaux has set up what are known as ecological zones at various points along the course. These currently cover an area of around 3 hectares.

These zones offer nature havens of peace and allow the development of high-quality biotopes. They contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity on the course and beyond. Ecological zones require very little maintenance. They receive no water or fertilizer, and are mowed late in the season, allowing plants to complete their life cycle and certain animals to reproduce. They foster the development of a wide variety of flora and are home to numerous insects, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and birds, which find food and shelter there. They also help protect against soil erosion, regulate the water cycle and store carbon. They offer a highly varied palette of colors, adding great aesthetic value to the landscape.

The local rules of Golf de Lavaux prohibit anyone from walking in these ecological zones, which are marked with red and green stakes. Players may not enter these areas, even to retrieve a ball. They must drop another ball in accordance with rule 17.1 of the Royal & Ancient St-Andrews.

In addition to these strictly regulated ecological zones, the Golf de Lavaux course includes areas of forest and meadow, which are subject to limited maintenance. These areas, totaling around 20 hectares, are located outside the playing areas and provide a valuable refuge for flora and fauna. They enable wild flora to thrive and animals to move around the Golf de Lavaux site without necessarily coming into contact with players. Finally, as part of its ecological commitments to the cantonal authorities, Golf de Lavaux also participates in local ecological projects outside the perimeter of the course. For example, as part of these "external" ecological compensations, Golf de Lavaux has participated in the renaturation of a stream in the commune of Puidoux.

Rare fruit trees

The Golf de Lavaux boasts more than 200 fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, quince, cherry and sour cherry), at least half of which are high-stem trees. Most of the fruit trees were planted almost 25 years ago under the aegis of Pro Specie Rara, a Swiss foundation dedicated to safeguarding the genetic heritage of plants and animals (

Over the past three decades, changes in agricultural practices and consumer habits in Switzerland have led to the disappearance of two-thirds of traditional orchards. This phenomenon has been even more marked in French-speaking Switzerland. Due to their size and longevity, the majestic high-stem fruit trees that once made up the bulk of these orchards are of great ecological value. They provide shelter for many species of birds and small mammals and are home to various types of lichen and moss. High-stem fruit trees are also a valuable genetic reservoir, as they are made up of rare, old varieties.

Fruit trees planted on the course are protected, with Golf de Lavaux providing a safe environment for them in designated areas of the golf course. Measures are taken to ensure that these trees remain in good health or, if necessary, are replaced. In fact, it was to replace some of the fruit trees lost due to the drought in summer 2018 that, in collaboration with the "Rétro pomme" association, which is responsible for the conservation of local fruit trees for French-speaking Switzerland (, a dozen trees of different varieties were grown in a dedicated nursery from seeds collected from rare species. These trees were then replanted on the course.

The preservation of local and ancient fruit varieties, to which the Golf de Lavaux contributes, ensures that future generations will have a wider choice of fruit in a variety of shapes, colors and flavours.