Golfclub Zwolle

GEO Certified® 02/2015
Telephone: +31(0) 38 4534270

Executive summary (English & local language)

After playing on its first premises in Soeslo from 1984, Golfclub Zwolle moved to a 10-holes course on new grounds in 1995. The current clubhouse was constructed in 2002, and the course was expanded to the current 18-hole course in 2003 and now includes four par-3 practice courses and a driving range. The total surface area of the premises is now 75 hectares.
The course lies on a transition zone from a cover-sand landscape to stream-valley landscape and was constructed on extensive agrarian fields. The course - designed by Alan Rijks - can be characterised as an open parkland course. Attention to nature and environmental qualities was already present during construction, which among others translated into the inclusion of eco areas in the design plans. There are currently no plans for renovations or expansions.

In 2007, Golfclub Zwolle ran one of the Committed to Green pilots; the sustainability label of the NFG. The course and environmental committee charged with GEO tasks currently comprises 3 core members. Participating in GEO is considered an important ambition for the club. It offers opportunities to adjust preconceptions the general public may have and to maintain a good relationship with the Zwolle municipality.

Nadat de golfclub vanaf 1984 haar eerste terrein in Soeslo bespeelde, werd vanaf 1995 elders op gemeentegrond een 10 holes baan in gebruik genomen. In 2002 werd het huidige clubhuis gebouwd. In 2003 werd de baan vergroot tot de huidige 18 holesbaan, compleet met 4 pars 3 oefenbaan en driving range. De totale oppervlakte bedraagt momenteel 75 hectare.
De baan ligt op de overgang van dekzandlandschap en beekdallandschap en is aangelegd op extensief agrarisch gebied. De baan - ontwerp van Alan Rijks - is te schetsen als een open parkbaan. Al tijdens de aanleg was er aandacht voor natuur- en milieukwaliteit. Zo werden er eco-gebieden in het ontwerp opgenomen. Er zijn geen renovatie- of uitbreidingsplannen.

In 2007 was de Zwolse golfclub een van de pilots van Committed to Green; het duurzaamheidskeurmerk van de NGF. De baan- en milieucommissie bestaat momenteel uit een vaste kern van 3 leden en heeft GEO als taak. Meedoen aan GEO ziet men als belangrijke ambitie voor de vereniging. Het maakt het mogelijk vooroordelen van het publiek bij te stellen en de verstandhouding met de gemeente Zwolle goed te houden.


The course lies on the transition from stream-valley to cover-sand landscape, although this change is not very visible. Wooded river dunes, waterways, and the steep edge of a former agriculture field are the primary landscape characteristics. The course’s landscape seamlessly blends with the neighbouring country estate of Boschwijk and the recreational area around the Wijthmenerplas Lake. The afforestation is still young and relatively open. To service game purposes, only a part of the new forestry plantation is dense and fitted with a transition zone into mantle vegetation. At several spots, there is room for dense scrubs.
With its 75 ha, the course has a lot of room of nature, no less than 45 ha. Remarkable features are the bodies of water and the wet eco areas that are woven through the course and are marked with poles. ‘Local rules’ apply to these areas, which are broadly communicated to players.

An extensive regional ecological investigation yielded a treasure trove of data on the distribution of populations of protected species (Faunaonderzoek Zwolle & De Horte, 2012-2013). Botanic research on PQ-s (E.J. Weeda, 2009-2012) shows that the local mowing policy has led to an increase of the number of species in the eco areas. An internship assignment performed by students from a local environmental studies programme led to the establishment of an inventory method, but this is unfortunately not followed up upon. A local ornithologist makes an annual inventory of the bird population.

The terrain is woven-through with eco areas and stretched-out bodies of water. These offer vital resting, sheltering and foraging quarters for a multitude of species. Water-bound nature can be found everywhere: water birds, storks, kingfishers, dragonflies, fish, and amphibians. The course is the feeding grounds for Daubenton’s bat, together with four other species. The predominantly water-bound flora is characterised by seep plants (plants found in areas where ground water seeps through to the surface), such as floating pondweed, kingcup, water horsetail, and water violet. There is a badger sett in a nearby wood; badgers regularly visit the course to forage for food. The ensuing damage is taken as a given by the club. Farmland bird species and geese also frequently look for food on the course. Due to nuisances, geese and invasive species are controlled in deliberation with among others a local hunter.

Festuca and agrostis dominate the greens and tees and are unfortunately engaged in heavy competition with poa annua. The club strives to decrease the share of poa annua to 5% by frequently re-seeding the desired grass species. On the fairway and semi-rough, re-seeding with fine-leaved lolium perenne has led to a lolium dominance. These grass species were selected because of the local circumstances. It prevents the top layer from hardening due to dehydration, which would have an adverse affect on the game.

The Environmental Management Plan (2010) is based on the older Green Management Plan (2007) and covers the entire premises, including expansion. There have been agreements with the municipality on the management and the eco areas from the very beginning. The management is executed in phases and is attuned to the nature values present. Examples of this are: performing work outside of sensitive periods, and removing clippings. In the eco areas, this has led to a development towards the extremely rare ‘blue grass land’ (a type of caninae grassland related to heath, with Cirsium dissectum and Molinia caerulea as core grass species).
Although the course does not fall within the Dutch National Ecological Network, there is a particularly strong ecological cohesion, both internally and externally. This is related to the eco areas, the extensive use of surrounding fields and the lack of fences and busy roads around the course. The only barriers are natural ones, such as waterways. Installing pools, combined with steep walls, river dunes, and forest mantles, will quickly attract amphibians and reptiles such as the grass snake, the moor frog and the garlic toad. There is fauna infrastructure, such as two stork nest poles that successfully attracted nesting couples. In 2014, the club installed starling boxes; starlings like to eat leather jackets.


The golf course’s water system is largely separated from the surrounding system that is managed by the water authorities to stay on a certain, fixed level. Superfluous water is drained and led through bodies of water that open up into neighbouring canals. A non-return valve keeps out (polluted) water alien to the area. Besides a system of connected waterways, there are isolated pools. The water authorities have designated a neighbouring area as rainwater buffer. The clubhouse’s rainwater runoff is led to the sprinkling reservoir through a pond. Rainwater runoff from the parking lot flows to a water ditch. The eco areas contribute to the drainage.

Surface water is used to sprinkle the course and to hose down machines. This water is pumped from a buffer pond. The consumption varies greatly, depending on the weather conditions in summer. Public water consumption is relatively low.

All game elements are sprinkled in dry periods, using an automated system. The amounts of water are tailored to soil moisture, grass composition, and the daily evaporation (tracked through a weather station). The drainage system is functioning well. Despite the dominant presence of water in the area and the dependence on the level management by the water authorities, there is hardly any flooding or water nuisance, and never for longer than 24 hours.

Public water consumption is gauged every month at the only water meter. This offers a constant handle on consumption and possible leaks. Public water consumption is limited through the use of water-efficient showerheads, and spreading awareness through a digital information sign in the hall. By opting for drought-resistant grass species, and through the use of sector sprinklers and wetting agents, the sprinkling frequency and intensity have decreased.


The golf club has conformed to environmental targets since the construction of the course. An energy policy commenced when the clubhouse was built in 2002. An energy audit in 2014 offered a lot of practical advice, which is implemented where financially feasible. Lighting (34%) and ventilation (15%) are the largest sectors of energy consumption, and much can be saved there.

The consumption of diesel and gasoline is relative low and decreasing. (contracted out).
Electricity consumption is relatively low and decreasing, among others because of efficient irrigation. There are separate meters for the restaurant, shop, and other consumers such as the pump for the sprinkler system. The consumption figures are registered every month, offering a good handle on trends. Despite the clubhouse’s relative youth, natural gas consumption is high due to high areas and extensive use of glass. There is no air lock to prevent draught.

There is no option (yet) to switch to renewable energy because of the fixed price contract with the current supplier. Three natural gas boilers heat the buildings. Solar energy is extracted since 2003 (16 m2). The power generated here heats water for the showers, and any excess electricity is fed back to the power grid. The course has its own charging station for electric cars. The roof of the driving range cover is great for installing solar panels in the future. Their visibility would also count as a benefit.

Savings on energy consumption are in the first place aimed at decreasing power consumption, for instance by installing movement sensors in sparsely used rooms, and by using energy-efficient light bulbs. It is currently being considered whether the club wants to switch from halogen to LED lamps on the driving range. This would be a large investment, which has to be weighed against how little these lights are actually used. There is no outdoor terrace heating. The fountain in the pond next to the clubhouse has been switched off. The club encourages its younger members to take the bicycle to the club. There are extra lockers, so there is no need to drive back and forth anymore.

Supply Chain

The golf club is consciously implementing sustainable management on many fronts. There is, for instance, a lot of information on purchasing and waste management. The club also pays a lot of attention to making members aware of sustainability.

There is plenty of attention for buying in bulk and buying locally. The machines are (still) owned by the club itself, and the greens keeper properly explores the market before replacing machines, paying a lot of attention to environmental impact. Local and certified products are favoured, although the financial component of choices has gained importance since membership and sponsor contributions are down. Attention is paid to bulk purchases, Big Bags, FCS wood and recycled plastic.

The club’s proshop and restaurant are operated by independent contractors who have their own policies, and the influence of the course and environmental committee is limited to the fixed facilities. Fair Trade and organic are not important on the menu. The committee has informal and frequent contact with these contractors, but there is no direct influence on company management. The leading principle is to stimulate each other. The course maintenance and the machines are currently being investigated for environmental impact.

There are differences in the choice for grass species and the accompanying fertilisation rates between the old and new parts of the course, due to different soils. The extensive fertilisation plan is attuned to the annual soil analysis. The resilience of the grass mat is kept on level by applying seaweed extracts and melessa. Pesticides are used minimally and locally when there is a chance of pests. Herbicides are applied to combat dandelions, thistles and plantains. No insecticides are used. Because leather jackets are on the menu of storks, starlings and oystercatchers, these do limited damage.

A waste audit is planned for 2015. One effective measure that was already implemented, was to cut down the frequency of garbage collection by 50%, meaning that the traffic movements and fuel consumption have been halved thanks to a new contract and larger containers. Green cuttings are collected twice a year and used on the local cornfields. Brushwood is chopped and used in the paths in the adjacent recreational zone.

Pollution Control

Concern for the environment has been a focus point for the club since 2007. The club adheres to the legal stipulations, an important part of which are the periodic inspections. The course and environmental committee has drawn up its own environmental care plan and has assessed the goals and actions for the 2011-2014 period. There is also a list of short and concise points of focus for the coming three years.

The water in the sprinkling pond was last monitored in 2008, and the fertilisation is attuned to this measurement. The carbon levels seem high. The club intends to have the wastewater tested twice a year chemically. Stricter legislation led the club to have the shower water tested for legionella in 2014.

The clubhouse, maintenance facility and wash pad are all connected to the sewer; water is led through grease and oil traps. There are no sanitary facilities on the course (it was routed in such a manner that one passes the clubhouse halfway through the game).

Hazardous materials are stored and registered in accordance with all legal requirements. Mixing and filling is done above impermeable floors.

A new diesel tank was installed in 2011. Although there is no legal requirement for this new generation of tanks, this tank is placed above an impermeable floor, as are all other fuel tanks. The floor of the wash pad was checked for cracks and approved in 2014.

The buffer zones along the bodies of water vary, and are usually over 3 m wide.


The golf club’s attitude towards society is generally open. Since its certification in 2011, the club has communicated its attention for nature and environment more. There was frequent contact with neighbours before that. The contact with the municipality predates the course’s construction, and has become positive again after a less smooth period. There is no communication plan.

Employees receive additional training for a wide range of subject (health, safety, nature and environment), to be able to respond in case of accidents and calamities. The team has 10 members with a mergency response diploma.

The head greens keeper is an important factor in making the club sustainable and in adjusting management. Despite contracting course management out, he can continue his work and even strengthen his commitment to GEO. There are short lines to other committees, management and the board; deliberations are very efficient. There are concerns about safeguarding information, because supplement of the course and environmental committee stagnates.

The premises are leased from the Zwolle municipality. Council members were invited when the new board was installed and the new long-lease contract began. The relationship with the municipality is good. Because of the large-scale nature studies by the municipality, contacts with local nature and environmental organisations have improved. There is a recreational route leading over the course and along its border. The course is linked to two cycling routes: The ‘Rondje Zwolle’ and ‘Happen en trappen.’
There are no fences around the course, barring at the entrance and the parking lot. The relations with the municipality and the neighbours are good. Among the neighbours are the Wythmenerplas (water sports area, skeeler park), the water authorities, and country estates. All neighbouring landowners are members of the club.

Besides a historical steep edge and the neighbouring river dunes (outside of the zoning area), the course has no specific landscape features. Course furniture is scarce and hardly noticeable.

There are currently no legal disputes or planning procedures. There are no plans for renovations or expansions.

Contact with the owners of the restaurant and the proshop go through the greens keeper and are informal; they relate to, for instance, the processing of waste. Stimulating and motivating are the focus points. A digital screen in the hall informs visitors on current information, such as cutting down on water consumption. 2-3 times a year, members can participate in a bird count led by a local ornithologist. A team of 15 volunteers assist in the course management and maintenance.

There are open house days and the paper regularly publishes interviews. The website offers information on the eco areas, and can be used even better to focus attention on nature and environment. There are plenty of ideas on how to do this.

Documentation Reviewed


The Golfclub Zwolle has a long tradition of sustainability. The energy policy began in 2002, and the club started the CtG programme on its own in 2007. A lot has been accomplished in the fields of energy and waste. There are plenty of opportunities for increasing the natural values, through the available room, the eco areas, and by intertwining the course with the surrounding landscape that harbours populations of protected species.
A weak link is the limited size of the course and environmental committee and the great effort it takes the committee to involve members. The committee is driven, though, making one confident that the chosen path of sustainability will be followed further.

Certification Highlights

The wet eco areas create great internal and external cohesion in the area. The areas are an addition to the Dutch National Ecological Network, and are a unique example of how nature and golf can be combined.

The club’s has an open attitude towards society. The relationship with the municipality is excellent. The great landscape and the beautiful nature can also be enjoyed by hikers and cyclists thanks to the surrounding and crossing paths.

The golf premises are completely surrounded by intensively used land: a recreational lake, a country estate, a water buffer zone, and extensive agrarian fields. There are no strict barriers, making it easier for animals to reach the area. There are particularly a lot of chances for water-bound animals.