The Honourable Company Of Edinburgh Golfers Muirfield

GEO Certified® 04/2015
Scotland, United Kingdom
Telephone: 01620842123

Executive summary (English & local language)

'The Honouable Company of Edinburgh Golfers' reside at Muirfield where golf has been played over its historical links since the opening of the club in 1891, the 18 hole course currently measures 7192 yards and is an 'Open Chamopinship' venue which was last staged here in 2013.
The Golf Course is 80 hectares in area along with 90 hectares SSSI, Woodlands and Fields.
The club work with STRI and SGEG and try to make their practices throughout the company as sustainable as possible. Muirfield do not have an environmental subcommittee, environmental sustainability is championed by the Golf Course manager and Assistant Secretary.


Muirfield has continual assessments and reports completed by STRI 'Sports Turf Research Institute' whom provided professional ecological and landscape consultancy input to the management and maintenance of the overall facilities. The Club also work closely with local wildlife groups and SNH in the management of the wider site and Site of Special Scientific Interest. The site at Muirfield is made up of predominantly fixed dune links land characteristics set back slightly from the sea where varied grasslands and small pockets of coniferous and deciduous woodland, hawthorn, sea buckthorn habitats are managed.

STRI prepare bi annual Management and Maintenance surveys and reports, Tree survey work has been carried out with a Woodland Management Consultant on board to assist with management where required. SNH have carried out surveys on the SSSI which is largely left alone unless the club are asked to provided directed management and maintenance. The STRI carried out Botanical surveys of the SSSI in the year 2000. There is a need for Muirfield to increase the understanding of the whole site through survey (botanical birds mammals and invertebrates) and as such this could be a continual improvement goal whereupon at least 3 of the 4 surveys is completed within the 3 years before next review. This is something that is now being requested as part of the Sustainability strategy in development through the R&A.

The estate itself is surrounded by a variety of coastal habitats, some of them fall within the intertidal area of the Firth of Forth Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), also classified as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Wild Birds Directive and also designated as a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance. Gullane Bents SSSI sits adjacent to the course boundary.

Muirfield maintain a traditional link golf course where the promotion of species well suited to the local area and landscape context are maintained. STRI provides an annual report for the R&A and has done so since 1998. This is a condition monitoring report with recommendations specifically tailored to inform the R&A of condition status prior to their hosting of the Open.

The turfgass species are the 'optimal species' for the location as suggested by the STRI consultants reports. Muirfield work to a 5 year Management plan currently in year two provided by STRI which covers grassland, scrub and trees. Playing surface is of importance but there is a tolerance to 'weed' species to reduce the need for chemical application. Daisy are the main problem weed in close mown turf areas which are spot treated with no blanket spraying where possible, there is a 15% tolerance to daisy. Rough treatments are for thistle and mares tail with a 35% tolerance.


Water consumption has fluctuated over the years as demonstrated on the records provided, water consumption may be affected by the weather at times. The records highlight that during an 'Open' tournament year water consumption is out of the ordinary. The use of water significantly increases the overall consumption in an 'Open' year which is not necessarily used on the golf course.

Groundwater is the main source of irrigation/water use for golf course purposes, supplied by one borehole at a rate of 0.0075m3 per second with a daily allowance of 650m3 and a total annual maximum usage of 20,000m3. The groundwater source supplies the on-site storage tank located at the maintenance facilities. Irrigated areas consist of Greens, tees, fairways and some south facing walk ways, along with spot watering on greens and surrounds with hand held hoses. The clubhouse is connected to the mains water supply where there are currently no restrictions on water consumption, the club plan to refurbish and initiate the use of more sustainable practice.

Modern computerised Rainbird Nimbus 11 irrigation system, continually maintained and upgraded when required. The computerised system records water usage to all areas. A full onsite weather station assists the maintenance staff when programming and regulating their water usage within the maintenance regime.

Optimal grass species selection and management allows for less water consumption at Muirfield.
The maintenance facilities have a closed loop recycling Waste 2 Water wash down system, wetting agents are used across the golf course to reduce water usage and the greens staff control individual sprinkler heads along with watering by hand. Divot replacement and overseeding with drought tolerant species are implemented.


The club are doing what they can in an old building to minimise energy use and generally run a more sustainable facility such as the use of low energy lighting. Refurbishment of the clubhouse will provide an opportunity to improve in other areas such as regulating water use in toilets/taps. The club provide lockers and promote the use of local transport by their members and staff where possible to minimise carbon footprint.

Muirfield use a local sustainable wood source to stock the clubhouse fires, these fires are stocked with coal during the colder months only. The clubhouse uses both gas and electricity from the gas network and electricity grid respectively.

Over the years hybrid vehicles have been added to the maintenance fleet, three greens triplex mowers and three fairway mowers have proved to be much more fuel efficient. In the clubhouse heating/kitchen appliances are better regulated and monitored.

Supply Chain

Locally sourced materials and produce tends to be the favoured option for the club however the likes of sand for the golf course is sourced from the West Coast of Scotland.

Bulk buying where possible to reduce haulage and transportation ie. sand is sourced from the West Coast of Scotland which is brought to site in quantity and stored on site, this is one of Muirfield furthest suppliers who are chosen for a quality product.

Very much a local supply chain where possible. Vegetables, meat, fish and fruit suppliers are all located within a 10 mile radius of Muirfield and there is a definite unwritten policy to the effect of using local products wherever possible. Supplies to the bar are sourced from a 5 to 50 miles distance. Local specialists including builders, plumbers, painters, electricians, information technology experts and refurbishment operators are all extremely local and are sourced from a 1 to 10 mile distance from the club.

The club have a minimalistic approach to fertiliser, pesticide and water use on the course to save on costs and ultimately reduce their carbon footprint. There is a definite trend of Muirfield using less herbicide on the fairways from 2012 to 2014 and a consistent usage on greens and tees. Organic fertilisers have been in use on the greens and tees at a consistent rate from 2012 - 2014

The club already re-use and recycle where possible, glass, plastic, paper, cooking oil and engine oil are all recycled. There are two waste contractors who pick up waste from Muirfield, East Lothian Council and Greensman. The local council have started to provided recycling facilities from March 2015.

Pollution Control

The club have a range of measures within the maintenance facility that would negate potential pollution incidents with a range of necessary protection or containment areas. The Maintenance facilities are very well organised, tidy and clear which demonstrates good clear protocol and management.

No natural watercourse enter or exit the golf course. Muirfield has no ditches or water features that connect with ground water. Careful use calibration and application during favourable weather conditions ensures that there is no leachate. The bore hole is tested annually by SEPA and every two months by greenstaff with results forwarded to SEPA. Pesticide usage is low and fertiliser use minimal with application only when required.

The clubhouse is connected to the mains sewer, maintenance facilities has a septic tank and the washdown area is a closed loop system.

Secured storage is provided for hazardous materials, there are registered uplifts of any hazardous waste. All mixing is carried out over the activity pad which is bunded to current specifications/ requirements , all fuels and chemicals are stored in bunded storage areas. Sprayers are serviced and calibrated regularly. Muirfield have 9 fully certificated staff. Operators mix sufficient for purpose and spray only in favourable weather conditions.

Pollution prevention measures have been put in place at both the clubhouse and the maintenance facilities which are permanently monitored. The maintenance facilities have an activity pad which is fully bunded where an emergency spill kit is always on standby.

All greens staff are trained in the use of chemicals and fertilisers. 9 fully trained greenstaff, briefings are held monthly with spray operators. Updates and training at least annually or as legislative changes dictate. Information is also provided through the main providers- SEPA suppliers and training services.


Provision of public footpaths. Grey Partridge breeding and introduction scheme. Local tourism is given a boost from the club.

The club provide training across the board to its staff in all sectors.

This is championed by the General Manager of the golf course and the clubs Assistant Secretary whom report back to the club committee and provided newletters and like when applicable. The Course Manager liaises with several groups SEPA, SNH, STRI on all matters and works to a management plan. The Club do not have or do not see the need for a formal environmental sustainability working group.

Muirfield has a good working relationship with the local community and its groups. Muirfield encourages and organises local school visits, junior events from local golf clubs and annual orienteering groups.

Public path network and signage is provided, access to the golf course itself is deterred for health and safety reasons. Locals prefer to access the beach via paths provided from the village.

The Course Manager provides a newsletter 5 times per year which includes a course report and rainfall figures. There is also a notice board within the clubhouse.

Documentation Reviewed


Muirfield has a clear understanding of sustainable solutions and good practice procedures which have already been implemented across the overall facility. Keeping records of assessment criteria will allow for continual assessment or re certification in the future.
Some recommendations in advance of re certification:
1. Seek more clarity from SNH on how the SSSI should be maintained if necessary, SNH to provide maps of the area/surveys to back this up if necessary.
2. More detailed explanatory notes relating to water consumption would be beneficial along with potential additional metering or consumption protocol during an 'Open' tournament.
3. Mapping of the overall property (already partially prepared for landscape & habitat plan for the golf course), could maybe show exact greens, tees & fairways areas along with habitat zones and landscape designations etc. this would be helpful for records and analysing change/improvements.
4. Energy audit for the clubhouse may be of use.
5. Promote what the club are doing to achieve GEO Certified status, on the website and within the local community.

Certification Highlights

Muirfield promote sustainable grass species of local provenance which require less water consumption and chemical/fertiliser application.
There is an overall increase in well managed grassland habitat which has enhanced birdlife and grassland biodiversity.
Continual work with external consultants with regards to landscape and habitat expertise allows for continual review and assessment.
Generally Muirfield champion an environmental and sustainable way of thinking across the board.