Golfbaan Het Rijk Van Margraten
Executive summary (English & local language)
On the 6th of July I visited the golf course of Rijk van Margraten to execute a GEO audit. Present during the visit were manager (Martin Snider) and the head greenkeeper (Henri Coumans). In preparation of the audit I received various pieces of documentation and read through the online registration form. The visit consisted of a meeting in which I asked the manager and head greenkeeper questions, followed by a visit to the golf course itself and a tour of the club house and maintenance facilities.
Background: Het Rijk van Margraten is an 18-holes golf course with 9 holes as a practice facility. The golf course is situated in Cadier en Keer, a village in the province of Limburg, and lies within the characteristic hills of the Limburgian landscape. Alan Rijks is the course architect. De golf course is part of ‘Het Rijk Golfbanen’, a group of golf courses. The process up to the audit counted almost a year. During this time, different documents and information was collected, internal processes were documented and goals were formulated. All of this was documented properly.
Op donderdag 6 juli heb ik een audit bezoek afgelegd op Golfbaan Het Rijk van Margraten. Bij dit bezoek waren aanwezig de manager (Martin Snider) en de
headgreenkeeper (Henri Coumans). Voorafgaand aan het bezoek was mij documentatie toegezonden, aanvullend op het ingevulde online GEO formulier.
Het bezoek bestond uit een gesprek en een ronde over de baan, door het clubhuis en de onderhoudsfaciliteiten van de greenkeeping.
Achtergrond: Golfbaan Het Rijk van Margraten is een 18 holes golfbaan met een 9 holes shortgolf faciliteit. De golfbaan is gelegen in het Limburgse Cadier en Keer, in
de heuvels van het kenmerkende Limburgse heuvel landschap. De architect van de Golfbaan is Alan Rijks. De golfbaan is onderdeel van het concern “Het Rijk Golfbanen”. Het proces tot de audit heeft ongeveer 12 maanden in beslag genomen. Tijdens dit
proces zijn gegevens verzameld, interne processen vastgelegd, en doelstellingen geformuleerd. Dit is allemaal netjes gedocumenteerd en vastgelegd.
The golf course is situated in the Limburgian landscape that is characterised by hills and altitude differences, orchards, hedges and steep slopes. The course was constructed near the city of Maastricht and the villages of Cadier en Keer and Bemelen. Surrounded by agricultural fields and orchards, underneath the course are the remains of and old Roman villa from the 1st of 2nd century after Christ.
Also, next to the golf course, there is a hiking route that is part of the ‘Kloosterpad’ route. Because of the course’s south exposition, it is possible to grow grapes.
The golf club has had several ecological surveys conducted during the past years, one of which was foccused on the presence of the badger.
Despite the compact area of the golf course, there are multiple valuable elements present, both ecologically and landscape wise. These elements are mainly woodlands, plantings, grass, herbaceous vegetation and open water. The importance of these elements and the fact they need to be maintained is shown by the presence of the badger. This animal uses the golf course to search for food and has a burrow at the border of the course.
The grass species that are used on the holes are mostly fescue grasses and meadow grasses. On the greens bent grasses are used. The choice to use these species is based on their purpose. Bent grass can be mowed shorter than other species, but needs more fertilizer and moisture in comparison to red fescue.
One of the problems is the high percentage of annual meadow grass, because of its sensitiveness to plagues and fungi. The greenkeepers have spent the past years changing this situation by sowing other grass species into the greens and executing other techniques to improve the quality of the top layer of the soil. With the Green Deal approaching this proves to be quite a challenge.
The golf club wishes to sustain the eco zones that are present. In order to do so, they use branches from pruning activities to make structured piles for small animals. Green waste is removed in the correct way.
The golf course is mostly irrigated with ground water. The water is pumped up into nearby ponds and this way feeds the irrigation. For all the buildings (club house, maintenance facilities and the 9 holes practice facilities) tap water is used as a source.
The greens, fore greens and tees are irrigated. The fairways of both the 18 and 9 holes course are not irrigated. The irrigation system is computer controlled. When needed, dry patches are irrigated by hand.
The amount of water that is used for irrigation is average to low, reason for this is that the fairways are not irrigated through the irrigation system.
The golf club has installed several appliances that save on water use in the club house, like water saving toilets and modern equipment in the kitchen. Guests are informed about their role in helping to save water use through notices.
The golf club is aware of the possibilities to reduce the use of energy. To do so, they had the saving potentials researched. During the following years, the club will execute the actions to reduce the use of energy and fuel. The wish to do so is communicated to personnel and guests.
When compared to other golf courses, Rijk van Margraten uses a relative large amount of electricity. This is partially because of the sheer size and intensive use of the facilities. The plan for saving energy shows a number of changes and investments that can be made to reduce this use. The plan shows that there is a significant saving potential.
At the moment, no alternative sources of energy are used. The club is looking into the possibilities and potentials to install solar panels. When changing energy supplier, the club wishes to negotiate on purchasing green energy.
Commissioned by the golf club, Parkstad Energiediensten wrote a energy performance consult in 2013. This report states a number activities to the reduce the amount of electricity in the club house. The golf club will execute these actions in steps during the following years. Also, several machines have been equipped with a on-off system in order to reduce the use of fuel.
The golf club has a clear overview of the origin of the products and the suppliers. Aside from the suppliers for daily goods for the club house and management, the contractors and suppliers of the greenkeepers have been figured out. The contractor that executes the maintenance of the golf course, has formulated their internal policies on the use of fertilizers and plant protection products and communicates their actions for sustainability on golf courses.
A purchasing policy with the principles and goals on purchasing sustainably has been written down. This policy focuses on the choices that the club makes in order to chose the products that are most environmentally friendly. The quality and price are requirements that can be included in the policy as well.
The restaurant often works with local products like meat, cake and asparagus. Personnel and other contractors are preferably situated within a radius of 30-50 km.
The use of fertilizers and plant protection products during the years is registered. An external specialist specifies the needs of the grass as a plant by taking soil samples, and uses this information to write a fertilization plan. The use of products has been steady over the past three years, some elements show a slight decrease. The head greenkeeper stated that it is their goal to reduce the use of products even more. The contractor has made it their ambition to fully apply to the guidelines for the Green Deal.
Waste is collected and removed by a waste disposal company, and is temporarily stalled in underground containers with enough capacity.
The frequency with which the waste is removed is adjusted to the season and the type of waste. Cardboard and glass are removed less frequently than other waste, and during off season the waste removal company visits even less frequent.
During my visit the reviewing the documentation I noticed no infringements on the law on environmental care. All activities are documented and when visiting the different facilities (kitchen and maintenance facility) I saw no breaches on legislation. The golf club was visited by a environmental surveyor, not so long ago. The actions that came forth from this visit have been executed and documented.
Tap water is frequently analysed on the lime scale content and to prevent legionella bacteria. Water that is used for irrigation is chemically analysed in order to assess the quality of it.
Waste water from the club house is discharged on the main sewer system. Waste water from the maintenance facilities is led through a oil separator before discharging it on the main sewers. This oil separator is emptied and cleaned by a specialised company 2 to 3 times a year.
Hazardous material and products are stored in a special cupboard, and the inventory is carefully recorded. Because the contractor that executes maintenance is situated near the golf course, the amount of hazardous materials that is present on the golf course it self, is small. Only products that are used very frequently are present.
To prevent pollution the products are carefully stored, personnel is trained in working with these products in the correct way and machine maintenance is done on the contractors main location as much as possible. Before using a machine, the greenkeepers check the equipment for any damage or leaks in order to prevent leaks on the golf course.
The golf club has made a risk identification for the club house and the other facilities. In this report, several improvement points were mentioned, these actions are planned for execution during the following years.
The golf club has a strong connection with its surroundings. Not only do club members use the club house, local working groups frequent the facilities of Rijk van Margraten. The larger part of personnel lives within a 30 km radius from the golf course, this is also one of the requirements for working there.
The daily management of the organization is executed by 6 fulltime and 12 part-time employees. During high season, an additional 40 seasonal employees are hired, mostly to work in the restaurant. The organization of Het Rijk Golfbanen facilitates employees in the courses and trainings they need to work according to guidelines and legislation. They also provide the protocols for working according to the guidelines of the risk identification report and health and safety rules and make sure all personnel is instructed sufficiently. The course maintenance is done by SBA Groen en Golf, a contractor. All agreements on maintenance and sustainability of the holes and natural elements are written down in an agreement.
The sustainability working group for Rijk van Margraten exists of 5 people, including: the club manager, head greenkeeper, professional chef and the head pro. This working group is responsible for the internal communication about and execution of the actions for each of the GEO subjects. The plans are discussed with the club’s management and club members. Any investment that is needed for sustainability is reviewed by the organization of Het Rijk Golfbanen.
The golf club lets local groups use the facilities of the club house, but they wish to work together more with these groups on future projects. This is one of the actions for the following three years.
As mentioned before, the remains of a Roman villa (named ‘Villa Backerbosch’) are present underground the golf course. This villa was dated to be constructed in the 1st or 2nd century after Christ. During the construction of the golf course, the ground level on the location of the villa was raised in order to protect these archaeological elements.
The golf club uses newspapers, posters and guides to communicate about the golf course, it’s landscape and natural values. The club wishes to install an information sign with information on the Roman villa for the visitors of the golf course and hikers.
The club has a website with a public part on the natural values an their ambitions for sustainability. On this page, news is shared with the visitors. The golf course is open to non– golfers via the hiking and biking routes that are next to the course. The recreationists are also invited to the restaurant.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Minutes of Meetings
- Training Log
The golf club has shown a great number of proof that sustainable golf course maintenance and management is part of their daily routine. The additional documentation consisted of a large amount of certificates, working protocols and meeting records, including overviews of actions for each GEO subject. The actions should be further translated to specific activities in order challenge the golf club in reaching their ambitions for the next three years. As an auditor, I recommend to award Rijk van Margraten with the GEO certificate. Sander Kristalijn
- The application was very complete and the club provided background documentation with a high level of detail;
- The club management and contractor are pro-active on the activities for sustainability and executes said action adequately;
- The golf course is part of the surrounding landscape. This typical Limburgian landscape can be seen in the steep slopes and unique plants like mistletoe and grape production.