Executive summary (English & local language)
On August 24th I visited the Domburgsche Golfclub in order to perform the recertification audit. The golfclub was first certified in 2010 for their efforts in sustainable golf course management, in 2013 they were recertified.
Now, in 2016, the golf club wishes to prolong the GEO certificate and has worked towards this new audit with enthusiasm. The golf club was founded 102 years ago and is thus one of the nine oldest golf clubs in the Netherlands.
The golf course is situated on the shores of Zeeland and offers a beautiful view over the North Sea. The course can be classified as a links-course. The open golf landscape, caused by a minimum of high vegetation and the occurrence of beach grasses in the rough, make the golf course blend in with the surrounding dunes.
The Domburgsche shows that they have implemented systematic flora and fauna surveys, evaluating and improving their actions in their management. This shows great results (optimizing the irrigation and nutrient depletion of the soil) and also gives confidence in the continuation of getting more sustainable.
The involvement of the head greenkeeper and course commissioner with sustainable golf course maintenance is also worth mentioning. Her presence at meetings, participation in committees and sharing knowledge and information are inspiring actions for both the Domburgsche Golfclub and other golf clubs.
The Domburgsche Golfclub is situated within the dunes of Zeeland and offers an unique view on the North Sea. This means the golf course is fully integrated in the dune landscapes surrounding the course. While other golf course may have roughs with a vegetation of bent grasses, the extensive maintained parts of the Domburgsche are planted with beach grasses, restharrow, sweet vernal grass and other vegetation that is typical for the dune landscape. The open landscape and a minimum of higher vegetation fir the characteristics of a links course.
The greenkeeper team executes the maintenance of the golf course with enthusiasm and provides for the health of the turf grass.
Each year, a survey for the plants and birds is organized. Other species such as butterflies, mushrooms and grasshoppers are monitored on a regular base. The golf club has stated the wish to install a wildlife camera to collect more information on the occurring species of the golf course.
The past years, the golf club has used pasturing in order to maintain the rough. This pasturing has been adjusted in 2015, to a method in which each time 30% of the rough area is excluded from grazing. This more staging approach towards the maintenance should result in a vegetation with more structure and diversity. Growth of shrubs is prevented by mowing these locations with a brush cutter. The golf club is searching for the best results in different approaches to the pasturing, they do so in consultation with the shepherd. At the same time, the results of grazing are already starting to show: a more open vegetation of the rough and less regeneration of shrubs. The maintenance of the natural elements is fine-tuned every year to better emphasize the characteristics of a links course. The past years a GIS system has been implemented to improve the registration of maintenance.
The head greenkeeper stated that there has been a change in the way the greens are maintained: more sanding, less input of nitrogen and using more organic fertilizers. An independent specialist takes annual objective samples to measure the health of the turf grass and soil. Based on the results of these samples the maintenance will be adjusted.
During the fall season the management of the golf club will establish a new maintenance plan for the following years in addition to the policy document.
The golf club uses a code of behaviour for the green business in order to execute the daily maintenance in a responsible way. During the audit it appeared that this code of behaviour is not fully implemented yet in the organization. The golf club knows of the occurrence of some protected species of plants and the golf club has several actions plans. Daly maintenance is executed with care and attention. For example, the greenkeeping executes maintenance in the best season possible in order to prevent damage to sensitive species.
On the golf course water is used for irrigation and in the club house for the restaurant and sanitary applications. In 2014 and 2015 the golf club invested in the renewal of the irrigation system. With this, the possibilities to further specify the amounts of water and targeting of the sprinklers has been greatly improved. The golf club stays within the limits of the maximum use of irrigation water they can use.
Several water features on the golf course are both an obstacle for the game of golf, but also function as important biotopes for aquatic birds, fish, amphibians and dragonflies.
In the club house, potable water is used for the sanitary. For irrigation, surface water is pumped up from a dune pond on the golf course. When a shortage of irrigation water should appear, the club pumps up additional water from ground water levels. The pumped up ground water is slightly salinized, but because it only makes up for 10% of the total of the water use and the water is filtered by the vegetation in the dunes, the salination is no problem for the turf grasses.
He golf club has conducted an audit to use rainwater for flushing the toilets in the club house, but the investment is not favourable. The club does use irrigation water to clean machines instead of using potable water.
Since the renovation of the irrigation system and an update to the irrigation computer, it is possible to specify the amount of water that is to be used. One of the additions of this new system is the installation of two rows of fairway sprinklers. This makes it possible to improve the separation of irrigation between the fairway and semi-rough, because it is now possible to irrigate from the sides of the fairways inwards. Thus, the rough will get more a more pastured dune-like vegetation.
By targeting the sprinkler heads more and switching separate sprinklers heads on or off, the golf club expects the usage of irrigation water to decrease.
The head greenkeeper uses a soil moisture meter to decide on the best moment to start irrigation. The need for a desalination installation had been researched. The necessity is not yet there and the costs are too high at the moment.
The golf club takes several actions to decrease the use of potable water. Trolleys and shoes are cleaned with compressed air and the restaurant uses water efficient equipment. The past years the use of potable water in the club house has decreased. It is not quite clear what the cause of that decrease is.
The use of energy in the accommodation has been stable of the past few years. The golf club has conducted an audit to discover actions to decrease the use of energy. They keep up to date with new technologies such as efficient machines and the use of robotic mowers for future investments. The golf club monitors the annual use of energy.
Since 2014 the golf club purchases energy with a green label. The restaurant keeps an eye on the energy use of their equipment and researches which equipment should be replaced for more energy efficient versions when it uses too much electricity. Also, kitchen equipment is switched off when they are not used. The next years, the golf club will measure the use of energy of the irrigation system by installing a separate meter.
The use of fuels looks like it increased over the past years, but this increase is not worth mentioning compared to the years previous of the past period of time. The golf club owns an electric green mower and a hybrid tee mower. In addition, the greenkeepers uses an electric brush cutter and trimmer. The possibilities to invest in a new and efficient fairway mower or a robotic mower are being researched.
The possibilities of using green waste for fermentation installations in order to provide green energy has been researched, but is not profitable for the Domburgsche. The amount of green waste is simply not sufficient.
The golf club has not planned any large renovation projects for the club house, but does take energy efficiency in to consideration whenever replacing something (like replacing normal light bulbs for led-lighting). Also, the natural ventilation of the club house has been improved and the past years the restaurant has invested in energy efficient kitchen equipment. Larger renovations in the club house will be executed on a long term. This is one of the main reasons for stalling bigger investments for energy usage saving.
The restaurant keeper values the origin of the products he uses. The products have to be fresh and fit the season in order to be used. Quality and sensation of the dishes is most important.
By changing the selection of used grasses gradually, the quality and vitality of the turf grass has been improved over the years. This has caused a decrease in the use of chemical products. The future developments on the Green Deal are followed.
The greenkeepers only uses plant protection products that are legally allowed and has several long term suppliers that provide them with the desired quality of products. The head greenkeeper gives the use of bio-degradable lubricants and the standard sand fraction they use for the bunkers as examples.
The chef proudly tells that they work with regional and biological products and purchase their vegetables at local shops. The restaurant has its own garden from which they get fresh herbs and arugula to use in their dishes. The fish is caught just outside of Domburg.
The greenkeepers have been using less nitrogen to fertilize the turf grass and uses organic fertilizers. As a result they have to mow fewer times as before and less irrigation is needed. This has contributed to a better rooting of the turf grass.
On the subject of waste management, the Domburgsche is ahead of other golf courses. They have installed a container and inserted it in the ground to make it easy for greenkeepers to dump their clippings. The restaurant separates plastic, glass, paper and cardboard and cooked produce as different waste stream and has these streams removed separately.
In co-operation with Maurice Evers of Lumbricus the Domburgsche follow the development of the soil in favour of the turf grass quality. Based on the results they adjust the amount of fertilizers in order to prevent enriching of the soil. To prepare for the GEO audit, the golf club has filled out the online question lists of NGfmilieuzorg.nl together with the head greenkeeper. The club house committee will follow up on the action points from this list during the next years.
The quality of the surface water is monitored on a regular base and has been surveyed recently. By using air filters in the spare tanks for the irrigation water, the quality of irrigation water has improved.
Waste water from the accommodations is discharged on the main sewer system. An oil separator and tailings tank are present for the discharge of both the washing pad and the kitchen. These are empties and cleaned regularly by a specialist.
In the maintenance facility different storages for hazardous materials are present. Diesel is stored in a certified container with a leak collector. Waste of hazardous materials is separated from regular waste and removed from the golf course according to the legislations.
The washing pad for machines has an impervious floor and filter for the waste water. Extensive maintenance on machines is done elsewhere, so the risk of pollution around the maintenance facility is kept low.
In July 2016 the local fire department have conducted a survey in the club house. No actions worth mentioning followed from this survey.
The golf club has many contacts at the local municipality and local nature organizations. They are approached when the golf club starts new projects on their course. Aside from facilitating club members, greenfee players can use the special evening discount all year round.
Within the golf club, training and offering courses is a main part of personnel management. The spraying license for the greenkeepers is prolonged annually and at all times, a staff member with in-house safety training is present. The members of the secretariat is trained to use an automated external defibrillator. The restaurant contractor provides the training necessary for its own personnel. In the past, greenkeepers have been offered to take part in golf lessons.
A fixed committee for all GEO related actions is present at the golf club. The course commissary, head greenkeeper and a biologist are the main part of this working group. They provide all communications about sustainability towards other committees, the board of the club and golf players.
There is steady contact with the local minucipality and nature organizations whenever this is required.
The terrain of the golf course has been branded over time. Think about the bomb craters from the Second World War. The presence of the old war shelter reminds of this period in time.
The golf club takes many actions in order to promote GEO for the golf players. At the entrance of the club house is an information sign on which the sustainability group posts updates about the natural values at the golf course. The sustainability working group has noticed that taking part in GEO related activities has increased the members’ support for nature and the environment. This way, there now is more acceptance for the choices concerning maintenance.
The sustainability working group has emphasized the value of GEO in their communication to third parties. The GEO report has already contributed to the quickly handled requests for permissions. The municipality has insight in the sustainable management of the golf course and have complimented the club on this.
The golf club wishes to further involve the local community in the developments on the golf course, by organizing GEO related events for the neighbours to participate in.
- 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
The golf club has shown once again that GEO is more and more integrated in their daily management and that is has proven to be valuable in communications and support. Surveys of flora, fauna and usage numbers are documented the right way by the club. The golf clubs proudly shows communication about sustainability on their website. The regular surveys of the soil quality in co-operation with a specialist will improve the justification of choices for management in the following years.
Despite there are still some point of attention with high priority, I am convinced the golf club will continue to work on making the sustainable though a fixed part of maintenance and policy.
Therefore I recommend to provide the golf club with the GEO-certificate.
The dune landscape of the golf course is a beautiful and natural surrounding for the game of golf;
The investments in the irrigation system have already provided a more structured approach towards irrigation and more natural qualities of the grass;
The course committee and head greenkeeper take actions on a national level regarding sustainability in the golf business;
Working with specialists provides the improvement of the quality of the environment and the structural approach towards maintenance;
The way the golf club deals with waste is very professional and can serve as a best practise for other golf clubs.