Executive summary (English & local language)
Golf & Country Club Geijsteren has been GEO certified since 2010. Since the certification they have taken several actions and the club has prepared for the next audit.
On April 17th, I, Guido Hamelink, have visited the golf course for an audit.
To prepare this visit, I have reviewed several documents (course management plan, water research, goals and the ambitions document) and looked into the online registration form. During the visit I had a meeting with the sustainability working group, existing of Han Boogaerdt, Raf Dittrich (course commissioner), Eric Wijnhoven (head greenkeeper) en Rachel Vogels (secretary).
The sustainability working group showed they whole heartedly support the ambitions for a sustainable golf course and that nature and environmental care are part of the maintenance and management of the golf course.
During my visit on the club house, golf course and maintenance facility I saw several examples of this vision. Things like:
- adjustments to the club house to save energy;
- a maintenance facility is in accordance with the environmental law;
- enlarging the area of natural grassland and heath hand choices for maintenance of the greens, tees and fairways;
- a masterplan for the golf course in coperation with the estate and the golf course architect.
After the visit I asked the golf club to give additional information on some topics. The most important additions were records and documents. This type of information should give insight in the effects of the actions that one has taken over the years. This makes it easier to evaluate and adjust the ambitions of the golf club.
Golf & Country Club Geijsteren is in 2010 GEO-gecertificeerd. In de tussenliggende periode zijn diverse acties uitgevoerd en is de audit aangevraagd.
Op 17 april 2014 heb ik, Guido Hamelink, een auditbezoek gebracht.
Ter voorbereiding van het bezoek heb ik diverse documenten doorgestuurd gekregen (beheerplan, wateronderzoek, visie en doelen document, begeleidend schrijven) en inzage in het registratieformulier. Het gesprek heb ik gevoerd met de duurzaamheidswerkgroep, bestaande uit Han Boogaerdt, Raf Dittrich (baancommissaris), Eric Wijnhoven (hoofd-greenkeeper) en Rachel Vogels (secretariaat).
De duurzaamheidswerkgroep heeft duidelijk aangegeven dat ze de visie voor duurzaam golfbaanbeheer van harte ondersteund en dat natuur en milieu verweven zijn in de bedrijfsvoering en het beheer en onderhoud van de golfbaan.
Tijdens mijn bezoekronde aan de golfbaan, het clubhuis en de werkplaats heb ik veel punten gezien die in lijn zijn met die visie.
aanpassingen aan het clubhuis met oog op beperking energieverbruik;
werkplaats is in goede staat en milieurisico’s worden zoveel mogelijk geëlimineerd;
vergroting van het oppervlak natuurlijk grasland en heide en beheerkeuzes voor greens, tees en fairways;
masterplan voor de golfbaan en het landgoed in samenwerking met de landgoedeigenaar en golfbaanarchitect.
Naar aanleiding van dit bezoek heb ik een verzoek gedaan om op een aantal thema´s aanvullingen te doen.
Belangrijkste toevoeging betrof aanvullende verslaglegging. Een vorm van rapportage die moet leiden tot het meer zichtbaar maken van de effecten van de vele acties die door de jaren heen zijn uitgevoerd. Zichtbaarheid die de mogelijkheid biedt om eenvoudiger te evalueren en bij te sturen.
Golf & Country Club Geijsteren was constructed in different periods of time, starting in 1975. At the moment, the golf course has 18 holes and several practice facilities.
In the woodlands surrounding Geijsteren Estate, holes 5 and 13 are in the open area of the agricultural landscape.
The golf course is maintained by a team of greenkeepers and the head greenkeeper, under supervision of the course commissioner. Because the golf course is located on the Geijsteren Estate, there are conversations with the owner of the estate about future developements.
The past years, changes have been made to the layout of the golf course. The base for these changes was a masterplan that was developed with the owner of the estate and golf course architect Michiel van der Vaart. These changes were focussed on improving the playing quality and natural values on the site. An example is the enlargement of the heathland and natural grasslands on the golf course. With these improvements, the golf course will gain a more distinguished character and improves the changes for natural developements.
The golf course is sectioned into several maintenance types, such as woodlands, heathland, open water, greens, tees, and so on. Within these sections the golf club has the ambition to develop more areas to natural woodland, heath and herbaceous grasslands.
A large part of the terrain (more than 50%) consists of woodland, on which the ambition is to change the area from coniferous woodland to mixed forest or even deciduous woodland. The most important reasons for this are the ecological potential and aesthetics.
The golf course is not part of any provincial or national ecological network, but plays an important role for plants and animals, due to its natural character.
The golf club strongly focusses on a transition towards sustainable turf grass. This means the transition from mainly meadow grasses to bent grasses. This process has been started some years ago, and every year changes can be seen, the unwanted grass species make way for the more sustainable species. The percentage of meadow grass has been reduced from 100% to 35%.
The woodlands that are present are slowly transitioned from coniferous woodland to mixed forest with a well developed vertical structure.
The rough is and will be continued to be depleted of nutrients. For a part of the woodland area, this means the creation of heath and for the more open areas it means the creation of herbaceous grasslands.
Surveying of the natural vallues is done by a local nature working group.
The golf course is irrigated with ground water that is pumped up. Because of the adjustments of the irrigation system the holes can be irrigated on very specific locations. This fits the ambition to improve the number of drought resistant species instead of species like meadow grasses. The club house and maintenance facility use potable water.
The water usage changes from year to year, but on average is quite stable. All deviations can be connected to the change of our climate (they have a higher use in years with less rain).
The club has debated the installation of fairway irrigation for a while. Now, the irrigation was installed, but is only used to prevent damage by drought for some of the grass species the club strives to stimulate.
The greenkeeping is focussed on an efficient irrigation. They evaluate the level of soil moisture on a regular basis. A minimal amount of irrigation is the goal, this means that fairways can discolor over the year. The sprinklers are targetted in such a way, that the rough is not accidentally irrigated.
The goals are:
• to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and rainfall;
• to evaluate the soil moisture levels on dry locations;
• when possible, to irrigate locally;
• making choices for the best irrigation planning;
• when unexpected things happen like drought or high levels of moisture, the greenkeeping can take action quickly.
In order to guarantee an efficient irrigation, the irrigation system is maintained annualy. Sprinklers that are broken are replaced by sector sprinklers. This way of working has proven to work over the past years. The greenkeeping wishes to continue this way of working.
The policy to allow the golf course to discolor over the year asks for more communication towards the club members. The expectations are therefore adjusted by letting the club members know what they can expect during the dry season.
To lower the use of potable water, the club has made several installments to the club house, such as water saving shower heads.
The use of energy (natural gas, electricity and diesel) has been stable over the past years. The golf club has taken several measures in order to lower the energy consumption. In the club house, this was done by installing energy saving lightbulbs, an efficient heater and boiler. The effects on the energy consumption will show during the next period of time.
The golf club has other ambitions to save on energy, but these can only be realised with enough financial backup. This will be researched further during the next years.
The club has installed led-lights in the club house. Also, a new heater has been installed to provide warm water and a heat exchanger that provides an energy efficient cooling in the kitchen, instead of the previous airconditioning, was installed aswell. The restrooms are provided with motions sensors.
The golf club has not conducted any research into the instalments of green energy sources, such as solar panels. The golf club stated they will look into this during the next years. They also keep an eye on new developments in the energy market.
A large instalment for the next years, will be the improvement of the insultation of the club house. The club expects this to have a significant effect on the use of natural gas.
The first hybrid mowing machine has been purchased. The greenkeepers hope to save on fuel and keeping the mowing quality as it is.
The greenkeeping is being challenged to realise savings on the use of energy, with as an incentive that the greenkeepers can share the saving costs with each other.
The larger part of the purchases are for the restaurant and the greekeeping. The restaurant is not owned by the golf club, which causes the purchasing policy to be implemented as far as the contractor is willing to coperate and making progress in this.
The greenkeeping mostly purchases sustainably by using only quality goods and chooses organic fertilizers as much as possible.
On average, the focus of the purchasing policy is a high quality standard. Asides from that, it differs how much attention goes towards sustainability aspects per product.
The club has good connections with local suppliers. This causes their involvement on many levels.
The quantity of fertilizers and plant protection products that is used, is limited as much as possible, according to the greenkeeping. When we look at the usage numbers from the past few years, we can see how the quantity slowly decreases. The golf club has the goal to match the fertilizers to the turf grass in order to gain the best quality possible.
The choice for organic fertilizers is interesting. The club tries to stimulate soil life. Another advantage of organic fertilizers, is that the products contains a lot less raw materials than non-organic products, resulting in a lower environmental impact.
In the past, the greenkeeping has used Merit Turf as an insecticide. The reason for this was the threat of white grubs and grubs that damaged the turf grass. It is seen as a last resort in order to keep the playing quality as high as possible, as an economic support, and for the maintenance of the golf course.
To make sure this products is only used when nothing else works, the beetles are monitored closely in order to discover their locations and spreading.
The golf club separates several waste streams. The past years, the golf club has done an experiment with composting green waste on the golf course, but without a satisfying result. The costs for removing the green waste from the golf course are relatively high. Waste from maintenance on the woodlands is used for generating energy and is therefore removed from the golf course without any costs.
All facilities on the golf course are built and managed according to the Dutch regulations and rules. Personnel is schooled sufficiently to handle accidents such as leakages. Machines are cleaned at the washing pad which is provided with an oil separator and an impervious floor. Maintenance on the machines is done at the maintenance facility as much as possible.
The water quality is analysed in order to monitor the effect of the irrigation water for the holes. There is no reason to expect the water quality to be influenced negatively by erosion or run-off water from the golf course, since the use and maintenance of the golf course is regulated.
The discharge of waste water is done according to the local legislations. The club house, maintenance facility and washing pad are connected to the main sewer system.
Chemical products are stored in special cabinets. The fuel tank is provided with the legal certificates and is surveyed on a regular basis. Only personnel with a spraying license, uses chemical products.
The oil separator is cleaned and checked by a specialized company.
Chemicals are only used when other maintenance actions no longer work. This is done in consultation with the course commission.
Golf & Country Geijsteren is a members-only club, but there are many connections and relations with the surroundings. Also, the importance of regular communcation on the maintenance and management on the golf course is seen as an important subject.
Asides from stimulating the personnel to take part in short practical courses and seminars, the greenkeepers are given the chance to visit conventions and meetings to stay updated on the latest developments in the golf branche. All fulltime personnel is a member of the NGA (Dutch Greenkeepers Association), which provides it’s members with trade papers and organizes conventions for new technologies.
The golf club wishes to give all fulltime personnel the chance to take part in the greenkeeping education. Other initiatives for trainings and education will be stimulated, as long as they are within the ambitions of the golf club.
The sustainability working group exists of a delegation of the management, the course commission and the greenkeeping.
To support the golf club, several organizations are contacted for advice.
The golf club has many local relations. Aside from the essential ties with the estate’s owner, the club has contact with the municipality, a local nature working group and Limburgs Landschap (a provencial nature management organization).
The terrain of the golf course is part of the larger estate. From an historical point of view, the land use was agricultural.
The club magazine is used to communicate about sustainability and course maintenance. The entrance of the club house holds a butterfly garden with information panels that give an instant look into the club’s ambitions for nature and the environment.
The detailed conmmunication about the ecological surveys on the webiste of the golf club is remarkable.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
Golf & Country Club Geijsteren has made sure to embed sustainable management and maintenance in their organization and shows they make an important contribution to the landscape and natural values.
By evaluating the goals and ambitions during the following years, the club can take the next step towards monitoring the developments and communicate the results and successes they have made.
Successfully transitioning turf grass species on greens from 100% Poa annua to majority bent/fescue mix.
Important and well informed habitat management - e.g. coniferous woodland towards native mixed deciduous.
Nutrient depletion programme for rough areas to allow introduction of heathland.
Energy efficient heat exchanger installed to cool the kitchen, replaces old air-con system.
Organic fertiliser and bio-stimulant programme to encourage soil microbiology and reduce long term chemical/nutrient inputs.
Frequent informative membership updates on course maintenance and condition, including website, club magazine with highly detailed ecological information.
Butterfly garden at club entrance with educational panels.