Golf Country Club De Servanes

GEO Certified® 01/2017
Telephone: 0033490574079

Executive summary (English & local language)

The Golf club of Servanes is situated in the Regional Nature Parc of the Alpilles. This natural park was established in 2007. The Alpilles form the last relief starting from the Mediterranean before the great delta of the Rhone. It covers the Pre-Alpine calcium based massif and the outlying area of the Crau and the banks of the River Durance.
The territory of the Park offers a complementarity of natural habitats rarely observed, where wetlands (canals, temporary pools ...) intermingle intimately with the dry spaces of the hill which have a rich history of waterways and contructions with a delicate balance of the ecosystem of the Mediterranean Flore and Faune. This ecological richness is the result of exceptional natural conditions, shaped and diversified by more than 4,000 years of civilization.
Still a great diversity of arboriculture (Olive trees, Fig Trees, Almond trees, and Heathland) is present.

The golf management opted this a good opportunity to better integrate its natural environment to this typical Mediterranean natural environment. The golf has some woodland, a spring and an old water irrigation system. The golf is also split by an ancient road that is still accessible for members of the community as well as tourists. Currently efforts are planned to make the golf course better mingle with the surrounding nature of the regional nature park. The plans to further improve its facilities add up to the steps previously taken to minimize its environmental foot print. These were just the needed steps to apply successfully for GEO recognition. As this label also expresses not only the environmental oriented approach but also the respect for the local community.

A major factor for a golf course in this warm, dry Mediterranean climate is the need for irrigation and this sometimes combined with the heavy mistral winds make that maintaining a healthy turf on the courses a real challenge. The selection of stronger grasses in combination with specific fertilization treatments and maximization of mechanical maintenance activities, make the need of fungicidal treatments minimal. Also the planned construction of a state of the art washing station with water pre-treatment installation will further minimizes the environmental impact of the golf club.

The golf started cooperation with the local schools to give the local youth the opportunity to enjoy the nice environment and learn about nature at the same time. The results and actions are regularly communicated to the public so that everyone can see how golf and nature can easily co-exist by developing and safeguarding the botanical and faunal wealth typical for this area, even in a club that aims to make golf easily accessible for everybody. As such all criteria are met to grant the GEO recognition for a sustainability conscious golf club.

Le golf de Servanes est situé dans le Parc Naturel régional des Alpilles.Le parc naturel régional des Alpilles est un parc naturel régional français créé en 2007, en Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur dans le département des Bouches-du-Rhône. Il s'étend sur le massif préalpin calcaire des Alpilles et sur ses abords immédiats (Crau, rives de la Durance) au riche patrimoine bâti et fluvial, et aux écosystèmes fragiles, typiques de la faune et de la flore méditerranéenne.
On retrouve une grande diversité de milieux (arboriculture méditerranéenne classique avec oliviers, figuiers, amandiers, garrigues pelouses … sur le golf. Cette diversité est génératrice d’une grande richesse faunistique qui se révèle par la présence de l’ensemble des grands rapaces typiques de Provence
La direction du golf a opté pour une bonne occasion de mieux intégrer son environnement naturel à ce milieu naturel typiquement méditerranéen. Le golf a quelques bois, une source et un vieux système d'irrigation de l'eau. Le golf est également divisé par une ancienne route qui est encore accessible publiquement pour les membres de la communauté ainsi que les touristes. Actuellement des efforts sont prévus pour mieux intégrer le terrain de golf mavec la nature environnante du parc naturel régional. Les plans visant à améliorer encore ses installations s'ajoutent aux étapes précédemment prises pour réduire au minimum son empreinte environnementale. Ce ne sont que les étapes nécessaires pour appliquer avec succès la reconnaissance GEO. Parce que ce label exprime non seulement l'approche environnementale mais aussi le respect pour la communauté locale.
Un facteur important pour un terrain de golf dans ce climat méditerranéen chaud et sec est le besoin d'irrigation et cela, parfois combiné avec les vents forts du mistral, faire que maintenir un gazon sain sur les parcours un véritable défi. La sélection de graminées plus fortes en combinaison avec des traitements de fertilisation spécifiques et la maximisation des activités d'entretien mécanique rendent le besoin de traitements fongicides minimal.
De plus, la construction est prévue d'une station de lavagemoderne à technique de pointe avec une installation de pré-traitement de l'eau, minimisera encore l'impact environnemental du club de golf.
Le golf a commencé la coopération avec les écoles locales pour donner aux jeunes locaux la possibilité de profiter de l'environnement agréable et d'apprendre sur la nature en même temps.
Les résultats et les actions sont régulièrement communiqués au public afin que chacun puisse voir comment le golf et la nature peuvent facilement coexister en développant et en préservant la richesse botanique et faunistique typique de cette région, même dans un club qui vise à rendre le golf facilement accessible à Tout le monde.
En tant que tels, tous les critères sont remplis pour accorder la reconnaissance GEO pour un club de golf durable.


The course maintains some natural zones as woodland and some natural grassy-herbal zones. Of course also some more ornamental garden-like elements are available (oleanders) as well as some cultural heritage elements (olive trees).

Not all dead wood is removed. The pollarded trees need regular maintenance, but dead trees are not replanted.
The course mingles well with the landscape (white rock, olive trees and evergreen woodland) and just add some exotic elements to the course (e.g. pampass grass). The non native species of trees are replaced with native trees when the opportunity presents itself.

Some plans exist to transform some grassy areas, not used for the golf sport, to wild flower areas, to support the wildlife (bees/butterflies,...)

The club tries to plants trees typical for the Mediterranean woodlands and develop more open grassy-herbal vegetations as typical for the grazed Mediterranean areas.

The club uses grass varieties that thrive best under the local conditions to minimize the need of treatment against fungal diseases. The golf is consulted by an external company to come as close as possible to a none treatment of the turfmat.


The irrigation water is coming from the Canal des Alpines Septentrionales, managed by the Syndicat Intercommunal des Alpines Septentrionnales (SICAS), and that brings water from the river Durance via two different branches all over the region of the Alpilles.

Water is brought by gravity to the golf where it is stored in a system of connected ponds that hold about 12000 m³.

No water audits have been undertaken at this golf facility.
The water is measured when pumped from the pond for irrigation.
The water is acidified (dosatron) as the pH is often to high (up to 7.2)

Drinking water is obtained from the public mains water.

Waste water is connected to the public sewer.

The field toilets is a dry toilet and waste is collected by an external company when necessary.

Regular toilets are fitted with a dual flush.

The current washing zone is not equipped with water pre-treatment tanks (sludge, hydrocarbon separator) and is directly connected to the sewer system. An investment plan is lined out to built a state of the art washing zone.

The piping has the last year been replaced so that the performance of the irrigation is improved.

Irrigation is done at night to reduce loss by transpiration, and so that soil can buffer sufficient water so that the topsoil will not get hot and dry before the end of the day as this would also be negative for the survival of the grass. Greenkeeper balances the need volume (computer) based on the weather forecast (temperature, wind) and own meteorological station.

When the mistral wind blows a lot of water is lost due to fast evaporation so that in that case irrigation volume has to be increased. By rain or thunderstorms the irrigation is stopped due to sensors.


Electricity is obtained from the mains network (EDF), which is for 14.4 % coming from sustainable sources (rest is mainly nuclear in France).

Heating (and cooling) is done by an zircon system (electricity).

Most of the buildings have large windows, so that natural light is entering the building.

No photovoltaic or sun-boiler are installed. No plans to do so are currently considered.

Diesel is used for the maintenance vehicles. Stored in a tank with a second containment. Petrol is stored in small jerrycans.

Low energy lamps have been installed. Internal policy has been introduced of 'out of the office = lights out', which is illustrated with labels above the switches.

Practice and roads on the golf have no lighting (opening hours only during daylight) so that no energy is needed for artificial lighting.

An air-conditioning device has been installed to combine heating and cooling in one installation. This means better comfort with a reduced energy consumption.

Energy saving lighting has been installed. Lights out policy has been introduced.

Machines are maintained in optimal condition to reduce repair costs and save on energy consumption.

Supply Chain

As the golf is part of the Open Golf organization, they have the advantage of using preferred suppliers to reduce price, however they can use also local suppliers, which they favor the most. This helps to promote the golf club locally (everybody knows each other) as part of the local economy. So about half of their suppliers are located in the close environment (30-100km).

They are in favour of environmentally certified suppliers (ISO) and short chain products.

They buy mainly locally as this reduces stocks and is faster when they need support.
About half of their supplies comes from the nearby area (30 km). More specialized products need often to be purchased from the nearest dealer but these can be located in other departments.

The kitchen and hotel are not owned by on the golf, but there is a close cooperation, and the owner tries also to work with regional products and suppliers.

The course uses strong and disease tolerant turf varieties as advised by their consultant.

They add fertilizers and sometimes herbicides which they purchase from the nearby located supplier.
The consulting, from the supplying company, tries to achieve a zero spraying regime by increasing the health of the strong grass varieties. This is based on US-based research and seems to give a good turf quality, but currently no zero spraying has not yet been achieved.

The golf course is currently looking in alternative supplier that uses only organic (bio-certified) products. But as they now manage the golf course very well it is a major step to take as the current supplier also helps them with analyzing the soil and brings them new knowledge.
The green-keeper has also a good feeling for his golf-course and is favoring more mechanical treatment to improve the root zone of the turf as this proves very helpful to become more solid grasses. However parts of the golf have a stony layer close to the surface what makes mechanical treatment quite difficult (damage to some equipment).

Currently certain soil treatment equipment is shared with the two other Open golf courses, what is sometimes a burden for planning the maintenance work. It is currently studied whether the purchase of own equipment is feasible.

The grass clippings are left on the fairway. The clippings from the greens and tees are sometimes stored and later used for mulching the neighbouring olive trees.

They would like to compost all the clippings, but currently no adequate method or system has been determined for implementation (but currently it seemed only a vague idea they did not really explore).

Wood is chipped and distributed around the base of woody plants.

Pollution Control

Only limited quantities of pesticides are kept on the premises (special cupboard as required by law) as most products are supplied when needed, whereas the local supplier also advises about the best suitable products (see above).

Waste is collected by the municipal services and waste water is treated on site of municipality. Certain waste products are separated and are collected separately by the municipality.

Waste collection bins on the course are also divided into three waste streams (two recyclable streams and non recyclable waste)

Incoming water and used spraying water is analysed yearly.

The water storage pond has a population of (large) carps, and so vegetation is destroyed and water is not clear. This might also have an influence on the maintenance of the sprinklers, and is not reflecting a very natural ecological balance in this pond.

There is a population of sweet water mussels, which the golf claim the eggs cloth the tubes and sprinklers, but no objective data about this aspects are known (note: is very unlikely as eggs hatch in the mussels itself, possibly they mean the very small glochidia larvae that normally fixate to the gills of a specific fish species... so these might be pumped up when they release themselves after a few weeks when they leave the fish unharmed, but is in fact an indication that the environment is not balanced - lack of plants, host fishes.... It is certainly an indication that the problem has not been understood... however it seems that the water treatment they apply (acidifying the water) has overcome the problem...)

The dry toilet on the course are emptied by an external company when needed.

Drainage system on the golf is directed to the (old irrigation) creeks that pass the site and as such products used (fertilizers/herbicides) can be filtered by vegetation before reaching any open water systems. Correct application minimizes this risk and as water carries fish and other organisms the effect seems negligible.

Currently waste water from the club facilities are connected to the public sewer system.

The planned washing facility will have a precipitation and hydrocarbon separation tank before it will be released to the sewer system. So in the near future risks of pollution will be further limited when the new washing station comes into usage (planned 2017) and washing of the vehicles on the course will be stopped.

Pesticides are used according the guidelines and only by certified persons (green keeper and qualified assistants), there is only a limited risk for accidents.

Currently filling and rinsing is done in the open. In the future this will be done on the new washing site facilities, till then this is not an optimal situation. Spill prevention materials are available in the storage room.
Spill absorbing materials are also present in the mechanical room as well as at the diesel pump.

The municipality offered some waste bins for the golf course for selective disposal of waste by the players.

The new washing installation will have separate tanks to avoid that possible polluting materials (such as hydrocarbons from grease on the machines or fuel) will be discharged to the sewer. Also the diesel storage and fuel handling will be done on that zone.

The people using dangerous products are trained with regular updates, as is legally required for handling pesticides. Absorbing materials are available where dangerous products are used.
Where possible environmental friendly alternatives are used (nematodes e.g.).

Storage of products is according to the legal requirements.

Most liquid products are stored on a containment containers.


The golf tries to link with the local neighborhood by regular open doors for the public (meant to let them discover the golf sports).

The golf course is however not open for non-golfers except for the restaurant/hotel.

Due to a closed fence (one has to push a button to get in), that gives view to a very long entrance lane this does not invite visitors to enter (fence was built against theft from the visitor's cars).

Possibly a better information sign would decrease this entering frontier, as now it is confusing and non golfers might turn back.

They have every year an apprentice to learn the work on the job.

Staff (full time and seasonal) are regularly informed and trained to work safely and have attention for the environment (as is legally required in France).

A sustainability working group was established in the decision and process to GEO certification, but, as with most processes in the golf, no formal structure is given to such a group (two persons). Depending on the theme external help is brought in (other golf, companies, consultant).

They work together with two schools so that local kids can be brought into contact with the local nature and do some nature related work.

The land of the Golf course actually belongs to an amalgam of Local Councils in the Baux Alpilles Valley. The golf management participates actively in the meetings between the 12 participating local councils with the goal of working together and conserving the micro region trough sustainable development efforts.

There is an ancient source located within the premises of the golf connected with an aqueduct that still is in use and brings water to the castle and village. It is owned by the drinking water company.

There still exist some old irrigation canals that in earlier times were used to bring water to the fields and olive groves. One of these canals is bordered with a line of pollarded trees.

A communal road passes through the golf and is accessible to the general public. Walking routes pass via this road trough the golf.

Although the golf has an electrified fence (against the wild boars), there is a cattle grid at both sides of the road with a entering fence for the pedestrians.

There exist also a temporary source that only flows for some months after a rain period.

No information about these items is available for the visitors.

Internal communications are direct and informal (no memo's, written procedures...)

There is a regular newsletter for the members and display with information for the visitors.

Press releases, articles in the local-golf press.

Documentation Reviewed


Golf de Servanes has put a lot effort to comply with the GEO standards, and with the planned environmental investments and continued attention they are a good example of how to combine using an area for sport/recreation and dosing that in a sustainable way with respect of the local environment, heritage and people.

Certification Highlights

Golf de Servanes started working according the voluntary industry standards that GEO introduced for a sustainably managed golf club. With its lean staff most communication is done informally internally and with the companies that support them (pesticides, fertilizers...).

In general the golf has taken a major step to implementing sustainable criteria in the day to day activities and should be considered as a GEO golf club and although they can still improve they should be granted GEO status.

Water consumption is monitored by measuring the pumped water from the pond that is filled with the supplied river water, and is irrigation is optimized based on meteo measurements..

In general there is a high environmental awareness, and the club is mainly oriented to the local community, and as such is well integrated and offers opportunities to local schools to bring environmental awareness into practice.

The golf has no real management plan, but has brought all information together in a file that contains some information that was not considered in the GEO dossier.

With a little effort this could lead to an integrated environmentally oriented management plan, manly specific data about biodiversity elements present on the golf are lacking today.