Executive summary (English & local language)
Kungsbacka GK has for many years been one of the leading clubs and driving forces in Sweden when it comes to sustainability. Thus, the sustainable thinking and acting is deeply rooted in the soul of the club and also a natural part of the everyday management. One way of point this out is to look at the thorough IPM-thinking and acting by the course manager in order to constantly reduce the use of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation, and all this without reducing the standard of the course, maybe on the contrary. Maybe the fact that himself being a former golf player on the higher level gives him the right feeling of how to manage the course in a constantly more sustainable and at the same time always have the players in mind while managing the course. The use of a new biological wetting agent containing humus is a great way to develop the management and the playing fields and at the same time conducting strong efforts to reduce the amount of irrigation water needed in the future. The last thing mentioned will probably rise as one of the most important issues in the Nordic countries as the restrictions for using water for irrigation will increase, not at least because of the climate changes causing both less rainfall in the summer and a decreasing level of groundwater. Another issue deeply connected with the climate change is of the course the use of energy. Also in this area the club shows its will to act more sustainable with the new heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps. I am sure that the club in the near future also will change to renewable grid electric, all because it will fit very well with the soul of the club.
The club is located between road 158 and the sea at the Swedish west coast, not far from Gothenburg. The surroundings consist of beautiful forests and at one end of the courses the North Sea meets up with grazed shore meadows.
Two new ecological surveys were conducted in 2014, one concerning meadows and ponds and one concerning choosing right plants and the management of them. Despite trying hard to get the meadows really growing there is problems reaching that goal but the club is continuing trying according to the suggestions from the survey. The ponds are, according to the survey, conducted in a good manor. The survey about choosing plants points out that it is important to choose a wide variety of plants, much due to the global climate change, in order to build resilience in the different ecosystems. The course manager wanted to cut down some trees but a lot of members protested. The club hired an arborist to tell them what kind of trees to cut down and what to plant and after that the members were satisfied.
As the oaks on the course is designated by the municipality the club is regularly thinning out the vegetation around them, which is a general action in order to keep them healthy. The course has a large variety of surroundings, which gives good prerequisites for several species of amphibians. Many parts essential for overwintering and spreading of amphibians, such as stonewalls, woods, ditches, hedges and dead trees exist on close distance to the ponds.
Poa annua is the natural grass species but it has low possibilities to survive the harsh winters and therefore the club will rebuild the greens with creeping bent (Agrostis stolonifera L). Creeping bent has been put on 17 of 18 greens and now have appr. 25-30% creeping bent. It is very difficult to keep poa out of the greens. But, due to lesser irrigation in the future (much because of the new biological wetting agent) the amount of poa will probably go down.
The club is still preserving the forest edges. The edges are very important for many species in order to survive as the edges in many ways have function of refuge. The ecological management plan from 2002 was gone through thoroughly together with the course manager in 2016 and the club found that they were doing most of the things but some things were decided to have a larger priority, among other things how to manage some rare flowers like heath spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza maculate (L.) Soó) and rock cinquefoil (Potentilla rupestris L.).
The surrounding nature reserves influence the club’s management of the large oaks as oaks are very important for the reserves. They reserves also influence because of the wild boars in them and the club has now put up fences because of them. There are cows grazing on the shore meadows, but as they can’t graze enough, the club is permitted to harvest parts of the shore meadows in order to keep the sight to the sea free. The club is cleaning the southern parts of the ponds, all according to the management plans from the survey.
The greenkeeper has a deep understanding of the irrigation need and is very aware of the need for reducing the amount of irrigation constantly in the future, not at least because of the climate change.
The water is gathered from the surrounding hills, cleaned wastewater from the maintenance hall and from the municipal water system. The water used in the maintenance hall comes from the ponds.
Wetting agent is used approximately one time a month, but the club is going to change to a biological agent with humus, which works very, very well. Because of this the amount of irrigation for the greens will go down very much and the amount of wetting agent used will go down, maybe to the half.
The greenkeeper is changing the nozzles in order to get the right proportions of irrigation. It takes a lot of work to measure the amount of water in the greens. The fairways are not irrigated during dry season and the turf will then get dry and brown. This gives that the roots are seeking themselves further down in order to get water. The restrictions for using water will grow and the club is constantly trying to reduce the amount of irrigation.
The club is now seriously thinking of changing from non-renewable grid electric to renewable. This will be a big step towards increased sustainability.
After having used direct energy for several years the club have installed five heat pumps in the clubhouse in order to both minimize the cost and act sustainable.
The fairly new machine hall is equipped with geothermal heat pumps, a splendid renewable energy source. The machines are using biodiesel, which is a good starting step towards a more sustainable managing of the course.
The staff is using cell phones when communicating with each other while on the course in order to minimize transport during managing the course. The club did have a large truck, which used a large quantity of petrol. When the truck was changed to a smaller one the amount of petrol used sank a lot. A new ventilation system has been installed a couple of years ago. The old one was very energy demanding. The club is discussing a rebuilding of the clubhouse.
The club really has serious goals in keeping the amount of fertilizers and chemical pesticides down to an absolute minimum. This will surely pay of in the long run.
The club has purchasing policy and is preferably using accredited suppliers (e.g. ISO 14001). A good example of this is the entrepreneur IL Recycling, which takes care of the waste management.
The club is trying to buy their products as near the club as it is possible and most of the products used for the course are bought at a supplier very near the course.
The amount of pesticide used is kept at a minimum and all of the weeds that appear on the greens are removed in a mechanical way. The use of fertilizers is also kept on a minimum level. These two facts together means that the turf sometimes is allowed to turn dry, the reasons (mostly sustainable) for this is well communicated with members and guests. The greenkeeper use some organic fertilizers but it is difficult to measure it to write it on the On-Course. But, the greenkeeper wants to expand the use of organic fertilizers.
The insecticides are used to fight cranefly larvae (Tipuloidea) and garden chafer (Phyllopertha horticola). Especially the cranefly larvae dig themselves down during autumn when the greenkeeper has piped the greens. The larvae wake up during spring and eat the roots. The club has now changed to smaller diameter on the pipes in order to keep the larvae out of the holes. The herbicides in the rough are used in order to reduce the amount of white clover (Trifolium repens) because it makes it easier to find the balls. Herbicides are never used on greens and tees.
Since several years the club is conducting a full-scale waste management, which means that most of the waste is being re-cycled or re-used. Wastebaskets are installed on all tees since a few years and the club’s caretaker empties them and sort out plastic bottles etc. The company taking care of the waste has made a thorough waste report, including the CO2-savings due to the waste management.
As the club has two nature reserves as neighbours the pollution control on the course and at the clubhouse and maintenance area is vital, and the club shows that in every aspect.
Since more than 10 years the club conducts water analysis yearly, conducted by a professional entrepreneur. The analysis shows no release of either hazardous chemicals or high amounts of nutrients to the surroundings.
At the machine hall the club has its own water treatment, which in the beginning had some issues but is now working well. The purified water is subsequently released to some of the ponds where it is used for irrigation.
The handling of hazardous materials is done in a correct way according to Swedish law. All the hazardous waste is being taken care of by a professional entrepreneur, the same that takes care of the other waste.
An oil separator is placed in the maintenance area and if any spillage is made there are special blankets to cover it up.
The mowers are hydraulic driven. That is, a diesel engine drives an electric motor, which drives the mowers. This makes it easy to avoid spillage on the turf.
The club has been conducting serious sustainability work for 15 years and has for many years been one of the driving forces, both in its own district and on national level concerning sustainability in the golf sector.
Regularly sustainability education is being conducted for the staff and sometimes also for the members. Twice a year the staff is participating in meetings concerning changing experience with staffs from other golf clubs. Many of the permanently employed of the course staff have undergone both ground level and high-level education for greenkeepers.
The sustainability group has since many years the status of a proper committee, which is a very good fact and the committee is compiled of members and the course manager.
The club has a very good relationship with local NGO:s, the municipality and authorities on all levels and it also have good relations with the neighbours and the local road community association and have regularly meetings with neighouring golf clubs. A annual report is produced to the municipality and the club also have an annual meeting, inspection at the club, with it where they discuss sustainable issues and the municipality comes with suggestions of measures in order to improve the sustainability work.
The club has collaboration with the local ornithologists, mostly when it comes to handling the 125 bird nests and to see what bird species that have lived there. They also give food to predator birds during winter and conduct ringing of nestlings.
The club takes well care of the intriguing Stone Age settlement on the course and it is good to see that the old stonewalls are preserved and restored.
The club has a splendid sustainability section on its website. There you can see the clubs sustainability goals, annual reports, plans for the future, surveys, information about the nature on the course, the last GEO certification report and a lot of other things concerning the club’s sustainability work.
Three new boards telling members and guests about the nature on the course have been produced and set up on the course. The boards inform about the flora, bird life and other fauna. The signs also inform that the club is GEO-certified.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Minutes of Meetings
- Register of Accidents
Although the club took more than the stipulated three years in order to get its re-certification the sustainability work has never slowed down a bit. The showed in a clear way during the visit that it still is one of the leading clubs when it comes to sustainability. Its work with the nature areas has developed during the last years with two new ecological surveys, with their management suggestions as core parts of them, as a major part of it. It is also very nice to hear about how the club really communicates with the members when it comes to management of the nature areas. I’m thinking specially about the case with the trees that had to be cut down, in order to be replaced with new ones, all according to the suggestions from the arborist. When it comes to energy, one of the most important issues not at least on a global scale, the club has taken steps forward. The new five heat pumps in the clubhouse and the geothermal heat pump in the maintenance hall are all a good proof of that and a perfect way of acting sustainable and at the same time saving money. These things together with the will to communicate the beautiful nature with signs on the course and the thorough work with cutting down the amount of fertilizers and pesticides makes me very interested in following the club’s development in the future, not at least when it comes to sustainability.
- Five heat pumps have been installed in the clubhouse in order to both minimize the cost and act sustainable. This is a perfect way of both act sustainable and cutting down the cost for energy.
- The amount of fertilizers and pesticides used is down to a minimum. This is a very good way of showing that a well-managed course can practically do very well without this to things.
- The change to a biological wetting agent with humus, which will decrease the amount of water needed for irrigation shows that it is possible to act sustainable in many ways at the same time.