Amsterdam Old Course
Executive summary (English & local language)
The Amsterdam Old Course opened its doors in 1935 and was designed by amongst others Harry Colt. Due to intensification of the railway system in the Netherlands, the 18 holes course had to be transformed to a 9 holes course in the eighties of the last century. Nowadays, most of the holes still have the typical Colt design, like e.g. asymmetric bunkering around the greens. During my visit, the committees present during the audit clearly showed a passionate involvement with their club. All goals and actions with respect to e.g. sustainability, playability, attractiveness for new golf generations have been properly described in their course management plan 2017-2020. Despite the fact that the course is more or less completely surrounded by concrete, roads and railways, a remarkable biodiversity has been observed over the years. Further, several holes will be reconstructed along the lines of the golf course architects almost a century ago. In an era of fierce competition between golf clubs, The Amsterdam Old Course hopes to distinguish itself from others by a combination of old traditional charm and new modern thinking. All goals and actions for further improving their sustainability footprint have been well documented for the period 2017-2020.
The Amsterdam Old Course (AOC) is situated in one of the most densely populated areas in the Netherlands. When Harry Colt designed the course in the thirties of the last century, wide vistas were still the case, nowadays the course is almost hermetically sealed from the surrounding nature areas by railways, large buildings, highways and the Amsterdam Arena. Despite this isolated situation, a survey in 2015 revealed quite a large number of species. Over more than 200 plant species were observed, several of them rare. Also birds, fish, amphibians and butterflies were monitored. During our course visit the AOC GEO-team demonstrated passion and knowledge about their course, and showed me some of the course’s highlights. Along the playing areas several species-rich grasslands have been introduced, not only increasing the attractiveness for bees and butterflies, but also for golfers. The course itself is nicely blended into the surrounding nature areas, giving it a natural look and feel. Coming years several holes will be renovated, and special attention will be given to a perfect match between golf course design and nature development. Drought resistant turfgrasses are used for greens and fairways. Despite all their sustainable management of the course, especially the older greens contain quite some annual blue grass (around 40%). It is their intention to keep the presence of Poa annua below 20% for the newer greens.
According to the GEO-team water use on the AOC is very moderately. Fairways are only irrigated under extreme dry periods. However, the committee could not substantiate this with data, as water use is not registered. After my visit, several price quotes were made for installing flow-meters. I suggest that the AOC will analyse their irrigation water use from 2018 onwards and provide evidence of the installation of flow-meter(s) by the end of 2017 to GEO. For cleaning the greenkeep machinery only surface water is used and to further reduce potable water use, low-flow urinals were installed.
Energy use now has a high priority at the AOC. Recently, more energy efficient equipment has been installed in the kitchen, the driving range is illuminated by LEDs, and timers and sensors are used to further reduce energy consumption. Still total electricity use has gone up the last few years. This is partly explained by higher revenues of the restaurant and the replacement of petrol driven machinery by electric ones. After my visit in May, a first energy audit was performed and together with the manager of the restaurant a new energy plan will be made for 2018 onwards. I suggest that the outcome of this plan will be made available to GEO by the end of 2017.
Waste at the AOC is separated according to legislation. It is however their intention to further optimize their waste management, and therefore a waste audit will be conducted in the nearby future. Pesticide treatment is only performed when necessary and total use is relatively low. Standard greenkeep practises (e.g. aeration, dew control) are used to keep turf grasses as healthy as possible and so promote to plant health in a sustainable way. Rates of fertilization are fairly acceptable for the desired grass composition and remained constant over the years over the years.
Near and in their surface waters several more rare and protected amphibian species were observed over the years. It is therefore highly likely that the chemical composition of the surface waters are of good quality. During our course visit we discussed this matter and it was concluded that in the future next to regular inspection of species composition, also chemical analyses of their surface waters will be performed. All chemicals are stored according to legislation, and recently a new impervious floor was installed. Buffer zones are in use near surface waters, and when out of the line of play, reed vegetation is allowed to develop to further stimulate biodiversity.
The history of AOC is nicely described in an eleven page document, including the presence of an old footpath, possibly dating back to the 14th century. It is the club’s intention to restore this path the coming years, and make it partly publically available in the nearby future. The club communicates on all club related issues along the traditional lines, i.e. via their website, facebook and twitter. Further, it is their policy that outsiders should spread the word instead of a one way communication line from inside the club.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Certification Report
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
The sustainability committee of the Amsterdam Old Course clearly demonstrated skills and passion with respect to the several GEO-themes. They could and should however improve their data management (archiving). Despite this criticims, if fully convinced that the AOC is ready for the future and will further improve their sustainability. I, therefore recommend AOC to be awarded with the GEO sustainabilty certificate.
- a passionate and knowledgeable sustainability committee
- they preserve the old traditional lay-out of the course, and in case of renovation integrate old charm with new insights