Lochemse Golf & Countryclub 'De Graafschap'

GEO Certified® 03/2015
Lochem,
Netherlands
Telephone: +31(0) 573 254323
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Executive summary (English & local language)

The Lochemse Golf & Country Club ‘De Graafschap’ has finished its first three years of certification. The course, the club house and maintenance facility have been found in a good condition. The team of greenkeepers works on the course with a great deal of respect for nature and the environment. This is showing in the presence of natural vegetation, the development of heathland, indigenous trees and plants, minimising the use of water and fertilizers and many other actions.
The clubhouse has been modernised with several installations, such as energy saving lighting.
Several plans that were formed three years, have been exercised and have led to a further professionalization of the management. This can be seen in a measurable quality and effective measures that have been taken.

Nature

The Lochemse Golf & Country Club has conducted many measures to improve the natural an landscape values. Management actions and renovations around the course have contributed to this. Also, these actions contribute to the attractiveness of the landscape and therefore the quality of golf.
A multi-year plan, written by golf course architect Michiel van der Vaart, has led to several changes in the course lay-out. Natural vegetation on different locations of the course are an important part of this plan.

The past three years, a broad monitoring program was constructed. This program was an addition to the already frequently conducted bird monitoring. This new program improves the monitoring of the management locations and gives more insight in the locations with a high natural value and protected species. Not only are species monitored, but also the biotopes. These activities are done by a club member with a broad knowledge of nature. This action was an improvement from the last audit.

More and more, the area of turf grass is decreased. Several locations were turfed or otherwise declined of nutrients in the soil. By a favourable soil this provides for the development of herb vegetation that are scarce in the Netherlands. This development gives the golf course a very own style by a divers number of vegetation types. This also gives more opportunities for a natural balance in the soil by the presence of insects that prey on the larvae of the crane fly.

In the past, the removal of grass clippings was an expensive part of the management.
This worked against the benefits the enlargement of the soil depleting management. Nowadays, the grass clippings can be transported to a green load digester, reducing costs from 4000 to 400 euros a year. Since the soil is depleting, the frequency of mowing can be reduced, also resulting in a cut in the costs over the years.
This works positive on the motivation of the greenkeepers that manage these vegetations. For the management of the woodlands, and external expert is called in. the ambition is to make more room in the existing woodlands. This will improve the growth of the individual trees and the development of shrubbery and other plants.

There is a focus on reducing the amount of meadow grass to improve the fescue grasses. The last years a good improvement on this switch in grass species has been made.

To protect local flora and fauna during the management, the moment of management is carefully chosen. By not mowing reed vegetations during the breeding season. By the growing knowledge of the flora and fauna on the golf course, more locations are excluded from harmful influences. In the field, this means to exclude locations with protected species from mowing, or taking actions to protect these locations. Stimulating the growth of shrubbery has had a positive influence on the animal species on the golf course.
The barbed wire around the course has been replaced by normal wire attached to chestnut poles, This provides a clear marking of the terrain, but it has no negative effect on animals and plants.

Water

The usage of water is monitored closely. Too much water has a negative impact on the grass species composition. This leads to interesting choices. For example, the golf club chooses to use chemical supplements instead of nematodes to fight of grubs. The latter would ask for a high dose of water, leading to more meadow grasses. This way, the greenkeepers make choices in the management of the turf grass. Furthermore, the golf club has shown the use of a soil moisture metre to judge whether irrigation is needed

The golf club uses ground water for irrigation. The used quantity is calculated by a pump metre that is calibrated and therefore correct.

All greens and 9 out of 18 fairways are installed with an automatic irrigation system. By the data of a soil moisture metre, the amount and frequency of irrigation is calculated. Should rain fall during irrigation, the system is switched of automatically by a rain sensor.

The transition from meadow grass to fescue grasses is an important activity. The past years, many attention has gone in this. Greens, tees and fairways are designed in such a way that irrigation is limited to the necessary to acquire the correct playing quality. During the renovation of the tee boxes, the current sprinklers will be replaced by more accurate sprinklers.

Energy

The past three years, good results on energy usage have been made. Adjustments to the club house have contributed to the decreasing use of energy.

Based on an energy audit, several actions were taken. New installations in the club house have lowered the use of electricity from 150000 kWh to 100000 kWh a year. This is a decrease of 33%.
At the same time, there is much room for improvement on the use of natural gas. Other measures could be taken on the installation of LED lights and motion sensors.

The golf club has conducted research on the possibilities to install solar panels. Based on the high investments costs, the golf club has decided not to do so. They do purchase green tariff electricity.

In 2011, the golf club has conducted an energy audit. The results from this audit have been implemented in the renovation of the club house and have led to savings on energy. Think about installing energy saving lights and motion sensors.

Supply Chain

Several changes have been made in the supply chain and have led to clear results. The most prominent action is the transition of grass clippings from waste to source material. This is not only a way of saving costs but it also has a positive effect on the environment.
The use of fertilizers and chemical pesticides is done carefully. The use is carefully over thought and based on objective measurements, such as soil moisture analysis and irrigation analysis.
For the control of pests and diseases, clear thresholds are established.

During the daily management, purchases are done with as much sustainable products as possible. This however, is not stated in any form of report based on purchasing conditions. For GEO, it is mandatory to have a purchasing policy for the golf club.

Many suppliers are from local small scale industries. The greenkeeping and restaurant are keen on purchasing at local suppliers. Another motivation to do so is the communication between the supplier and the golf club, which stands for keeping quality up. Quality of products is considered the most important criterion. This makes it not always possible to purchase at local suppliers.

Each winter, the golf club takes samples from several greens to analyse the soil. Based on these samples, plans for the new year are made. Additionally, the soil is sampled during the growing season to find out whether additional fertilizer is needed.
Grubs are treated spot-wise by monitoring the places with most beetles yearly. The locations are marked on a map and treated later.
The focus in turf grass management on specific grass species (red fescue and bent grasses) offer the possibility to apply chemicals specifically.
As fertilizers, inorganic fertilizers are used. The reason for not using organic fertilizers is the restricted influence on the potency of the fertilizers on the soil.

The raise in the use of plant protection products is caused by the use of a different type of product with another composition of active components.

Grass clippings from the holes and rough are removed and offered at a load digester nearby. This causes the green waste to be re-used and gives the greenkeeping the possibility to carry off bigger quantities than before. This has already been addressed in theme 1. Further possibilities for having different waste streams are present, but need to be researched more.

Pollution Control

The buildings on the golf course comply to the local legislation on environmental care. Risks are minimised by using more and more biological degrading lubricants and oils. The storage of dangerous substances is well documented.

The water which is used for irrigation, is monitored regularly on the chemical composition.

Polluted waste water is discharged according to the local legislations. The washing pad has an oil filter and discharges on the local sewers. The waste water from the golf course itself is not polluted and discharges on the local surface water streams. To prevent any off flow or leaching from fertilizers, the surface waters will be monitored in the future. At the moment, the monitoring is done visually based on indicating plants that show the water quality.

Applying plant protection products is done by personnel with a spraying license.

The accommodations are checked regularly to comply to the legislations on environmental care. Floors are checked and the storage of oils and other liquids are monitored.

By using biologicaly degradable lubricants and oils there is less risk for damage to the soil and vegetations.

Community

The terrain commission has several members that take part in the actions for the GEO themes. This provides for a broad implementation of GEO in the golf course management. Items on nature and course management are published via the club magazine, digital newsletter and the member committee. This way, knowledge on course management, forest management and protected flora and fauna is shared.

The greenkeepers are well trained and schooled and can take part in trainings. The certification needed for applying plant protection products are present. By having many different tasks, the work is both diverse and attractive for the greenkeepers.

The working group that has worked on the GEO certification the past years is incorporated in the course committee. Several members with each a different specialization are part of this group. This group however has limited influence on the parts of GEO that have to do with the buildings.
The next years, more cooperation with the club committee will be a point of attention. This to provide more actions on the environmental GEO team in the club house and surroundings.

There is a steady contact with the local authorities. Many club members are involved with the local businesses. On other aspects, there is little know about the connections with the local community.

Several elements on the terrain that are present show the historic land use. The hedgerows, parts of production forest, the lane and ditches in the woodlands are characterizing elements. The knowledge on the history of the golf course can be shared with members of the club to improve the understanding and valuation for the landscape.

There are good examples of internal communication on nature and course management. These are published in the club magazine and the digital newsletter.

Communication towards external parties and the community is still limited, but a point of research.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

The past three years, the golf club has worked adequately to complete the recertification process. When adjusting the management of the course or other subjects in the daily work, the consequences for nature and the environment are taken into serious consideration. The golf club has a positive and realistic view on being sustainably certified and has implemented this view in the business management.

I’d like to propose the recertification for the Lochemse Golf & Countryclub 'De Graafschap'.

Certification Highlights

The golf clubs personnel are knowledgeable about sustainability and involve this knowledge in their daily routines. Several committee members that are involved with the certification provide with their knowledge and experience. This gives an impulse towards the wish for an efficient and sustainable course management. This way, the entire organization takes account in protecting the environment and nature.
Special attention goes to the ‘trial and error’ mind-set. Firstly, the golf club looks for examples on new methods and actions at other locations. These methods and actions are first tested on a small scale before being implemented on a large scale. A good example is the development of botanical rich grasslands and heathlands.
Also, the decrease in the use of ground water and electricity are the results of adequate actions like the transition in grass species and the installation of energy saving lighting.
The next period of time, the golf club will focus on the ambition of continuing this road to optimisation.