PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Gaze to the north of Royal Portrush Golf Club and there’s water as far as your eyes will take you. At least, that is, when your head isn’t stuck under an umbrella dodging the rain that comes and goes almost daily in these parts.
Water, water, everywhere. But at this year’s Open Championship, there is one place you won’t find it: being sold on the Dunluce Links.
For the first time at the Open, the R&A has removed single-use plastic water bottles for purchase in all concessions areas. Spectators, instead, have been encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles and make use of five purified-water stations located around the course for a fill-up. For those without, more than 5,000 special Open-edition BPA-free stainless-steel bottles were handed out early in the week, with ticketholders also able to buy them (£4.50) for use each day.
R&A officials believe the initiative, which has the support of the U.N. Environment’s Clean Seas campaign, will save 120,000 bottles from being used this week at Portrush.
According to organizers of Bluewater, a Stockholm-based group that helps develop water solutions, the Open is the first major global sporting event to remove plastic bottles. It only makes sense for the R&A to be conscious of the impact of plastic bottles on the world’s oceans. Each year, the governing body takes the oldest tournament in golf to a seaside links.
“For a number of years we’ve looked at whole concepts of recycling, reducing to as close to zero the waste to landfill,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said. “This year was a step forward on single-use plastic water bottles. We will look to do more on plastic in the coming year.”
Soda, juice and energy drinks in plastic bottles are still available in the spectator villages, but there could come a day when their sale is also restricted.
The R&A’s initiative also has targeted the golfers competing this week at Portrush; each was given a players’ edition bottle laser-engraved with their name.
“Sports offers a unique opportunity to engage with a global audience on environmental issues,” said the U.N. Environment’s Daniel Cooney. “The Open offers a powerful platform to influence how people think about drinking water and its associated impact on the natural environment.”