Emirates Golf Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
In the late eighties, the Emirates Golf Club opened its doors to the public promoted by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who donated its beautiful location on the edge of the city of Dubai. With a characteristics desert landscape and a natural valley (“wadi”) crossing the land, the Club has become one of the flagships of golf in the Middle East. Hosting major venues such as the European Tour Desert Classic championship has allowed the Club to show the world its challenging design and its admirable level of maintenance.
The Club accounts with two courses: the Majlis (opened in 1988 and designed by Karl Litten) and the Faldo (opened in 2005). The scenic beauty of the courses is based on the views of the city skyline and the desert landscape surrounding the playing areas, approaching the original arid land to a parkland course surrounded by trees and buildings. Both courses are observed from the original and splendid Clubhouse, designed to represent an encampment of Arabian tents. Additionally, golf is open to new players in the 9 holes practice course; and night golf is possible thanks to the floodlit experience, allowing golfers to play golf whilst avoiding the hottest periods of the day in Dubai.
Known during its beginnings as “The Desert Miracle”, the Club has achieved excellence in its maintenance practices whilst preserving the rolling & shaping of the desert contours and the autochthonous flora of the site. Commitment with the preservation of the environment is a fact in the Emirates Golf Club, which plans for sustainability through significant investments especially regarding water use. Both the irrigation system and the pump station have been renovated to the latest technology, allowing Emirates Golf Club to maximize energy efficiency and to use water responsibly. Significant reduction of maintained turf areas is gradually occurring in the Faldo course, enhancing shrubs and desert vegetation in outrough areas.
Finally, Emirates Golf Club plays an outstanding community & social mission in Dubai. The Majlis course is a landmark for the city, meaning “meeting place” and offering much more than golf to the visitors. The Club has achieved awards and top golf course ratings; and the impact of venues such as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic or the Omega Dubai Ladies Master, which reach millions of spectators surrounding the world, provided recognition to both the Club and the Emirate of Dubai.
The Emirates original design considered the natural shape of the land, including the rugged terrain of the sand dunes the roughs and fairways. The original palm trees & gaff trees surrounding the contours give definition to the different playing areas; and the waste areas and native roughs between holes are just as they would if non maintained. Additionally, today the courses feature an important number of indigenous species of flora and fauna, together with several salt lakes and an old valley crossing the land. Furthermore, there’s a transition taking place in order to switch from classic turf species to local grasses in non playable areas.
Thus, Emirates Golf Club conserves nature through its attention to the ecosystem protection in the design steps; but in the decisions that are taken in place nowadays to restore the flora of the site as well. The golfer can feel the sensation of being in the desert while playing golf in a perfectly maintained turf carpet.
The grassing plan takes into account the recommendations of European Tour for achieving pro golfers expectations; but from the landscape experts of Dubai Municipality as well. Autochthonous grasses than can be found in roundabouts are the ones considered for native areas for example.
The original desert habitats are clearly defined and conserved along with the maintained turfgrass. Irrigation sprinklers arcs are oriented and regulated so that the habitats ecosystems are not watered and thus not altered. No other maintenance practice is carried out in those areas; and the desert fauna, burrows, etc. can be found in them. Native fire grasses are being introduced in the property, representing an alternative to common turfgrass that requires less water, no fertility and no mowing.
The grass sward at Emirates Golf Club varies depending upon the golf course (Majlis or Faldo) and the season of the year. Both courses present grasses offering both optimum playability conditions and enhanced environmental adaptation. This is especially true in the greens surfaces, where a warm season, low water demand grasses like bermuda or paspalum are established. Tournament requirements in terms of greens speed, smoothness and evenness are reached while reducing standard water, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. use. This involves special training and formation for the greenkeeping staff; as is not usual as the standard bentgrass greens established worldwide over which where most of the golf venues take place.
The rest of the areas are established with warm season grasses as well, with bermudagrass on the Majlis course and paspalum in the Faldo. Both grasses are heat tolerant and allow irrigation with poor quality water, thus providing stress resistance and low inputs requirements.
Overseeding practices are annually carried out in order to provide high quality conditions in the high season. In order to decrease inputs & water requirements, overseeding has been reduced just to rough areas in the Faldo course; thus maintaining the Majlis in top conditions for hosting special tournaments. Furthermore, trials with different overseeding grass species are carried out every year in order to select the most appropriate and adapted to the course environmental conditions.
An important example of sustainable greenkeeping is being achieved in the Faldo course with a significant reduction in the areas of managed turfgrass. Original established grass (paspalum) is being switch to the autochthonous desert fox grass in tees surrounds, areas between holes and limits of the land.
Emirates Golf Club conserves nature through different practices. One of the most significant is bird control, which is achieved by the old tradition of falconry. Falcons keep the birds away, which are not killed but scared to other habitats. The banks & slopes between holes are left without maintenance; allowing wildlife to live and procreate. Log & stone piles are incorporated in those areas to let animals thrive. Lakes perimeters are neither trimmed nor mowed, conforming a perfect habitat for different aquatic life, geese and ducks. The fact of regulating arcs in rough sprinklers so that they do not irrigate desert areas allows the natural flora to develop, establish and endure.
Maintenance practices are limited to the playing areas, defining a clear transition from the golf course with its outsides and thus preserving the wildlife and natural flora ecosystem.
Emirates Golf Club commitment with responsible water use is a fact. The whole property is now irrigated with treatment sewerage effluent water, being irrigated with desalt water in its beginnings. This achievement not only reduces the huge energy consumption required to desalt water; but also erases the contamination and ecological adverse effects that the concentrated salt product produces when pumped to the sea. Additionally, water coming from the treatments plants is being recycled, what represents an outstanding example of sustainability for the water used by the more than 2 millions of inhabitants in Dubai.
Additionally, the Club has improved its irrigation system to the finest and latest technology, allowing irrigation water to be distributed uniformly through the courses. This significant investment is finally completed by an exhaustive daily soil water content and ET control carried out by the greenkeeping team; what helps in the exact calculation of the water requirements of each area of the courses.
Irrigation water is provided from the municipality treatment plants. Water counter meters are installed for each different golf course, thus allowing keeping records for each of them. Potable water comes from the public network and is counter-metered in the clubhouse facility.
Achievement of Irrigation efficiency, changes in turf species, overseeding areas diminution, and reduction in the areas to be irrigated have allowed a water use decrease of more than a 30% in the last 3 years. This is enhanced by both the low maintenance areas that are being created (fire grass areas in the Faldo course) and the non maintained native areas in the outroughs.
Irrigation efficiency has been extraordinarily improved with the upgrade of the irrigation system. The latest technology in the irrigation central computer software is combined with the ultimate sprinkler technology and cutting edge, efficient pump station. This result in an optimum irrigation water distribution, avoiding the coexistence of wet & dry areas and allowing a firm & uniform surface for the game of golf.
Water consumption is controlled exhaustively by the greenkeeping staff, which have developed a professional protocol to determine water need on a daily basis. Thus, soil water content is measured every day in each green, tee, fairway, etc. Measurements are replicated until 9 times per green. Soil water content values are downloaded in the computer, and allow the exact adjustment of the ET values measured by the meteorological station. This protocol ensures that daily irrigation of each square meter of the courses is not too high neither too poor, meeting exactly what the plant is demanding. Runoff and excess water drainage is thus avoided.
Other greenkeeping practices such as hand watering, the use of wetting agents, rooting enhancement, cultural practices or fine tuning of the irrigation system (re programming daily) help on the maximization of water saving.
Finally, the Clubhouse facility is being improving with water saving devices such as the low flow urinals or the water awareness signage at the restrooms.
The use of renewable energy sources was not projected initially in the Emirates Golf Club, and thus those sources of energy are not being used at the facility today. However, the new state of the art pump station allows the course to be irrigated in half the time it used to, thus allowing a huge energy saving. Additionally, the Clubhouse buildings were uploaded in 2011 with new lighting, air conditioning, and fire system, new plumbing network, etc. Central control is installed, ensuring detection of energy loses and allowing records to be taken. Finally, transition to hybrid technology in greens mowers has taken place, thus reducing the fuel mowers.
The high energy demand required by the air conditioning systems during the hot season is equilibrated by both the building’s design (with reduced crystal surfaces, doubled panel grass for isolating and against-sun orientation) and the responsible attitude and commitment of the staff, which keeps attitudes (doors & windows closing, temperature regulation, etc.) in order to minimize energy requirements.
Non renewable grid energy is the main energy source at the property. The golf carts fleet is almost entirely electric. Liquid Petrol Gas is used for cooking at the kitchens. A record of the each non-renewable energy and fuels consumption is maintained.
Greens mowers have been upgraded to hybrid technology. Use of electric carts avoids the generation of CO2 emissions from petrol carts and the stockage of all batteries. All the parking and landscape lights have been upgraded to LED lighting.
The use of variable frequency drives in each pump (irrigation, air conditioning, fresh water, fire water pumps) represent a huge energy savings, allowing pumps to work in lower frequencies and thus not demanding their maximum voltage consumption. Jockey pumps are also installed, demanding low electricity for small requirements. LED technology is allowing the reduction of the total number of lamps. Air temperature at 23ºC in all the facilities and is being turned off in the empty spaces when the workers have finished their tasks; and star rating energy efficiency air conditioning devices have been installed.
The clubhouse has replaced almost all the old lamps to energy saving, low voltage lamps and LED lighting. Devices such as motion sensor lighting in toilet & restrooms and locker rooms.
Emirates Golf Club purchasing policy is developed with a central procurement office, which manages the relationship between contractors, suppliers and products. The Club works within a budget, and suppliers are rated yearly. Local distributors are chosen when possible. HACPP procedures are well kept in the kitchens and Al Hallal products follow a strict control procedure for certification.
The central procurement office depends on the government, and looks for 3 budgets of each item required once specs have been specified for each department. Finally, the purchasing decision is realized based on prices, recommendations and preferences.
Turfgrass species in both courses are environmentally sound thanks to their drought resistance & low input requirements. Plus, the cultural practices carried out (including soil topdressing & amendment) help in maintaining thatch levels controlled, what is traduced in a healthier turfgrass. Fertilizer applications are recorded and saved in both paper & computer support, resuming the amounts of each element (N, P, K) applied in each playing area. Diseases are controlled in a preventative strategy in order to minimize the quantities of product to be applied. Seaweed extracts, aminoacids, humic & fulvic acids are regularly used for healthier turf. Herbicides use is reduced thanks to regular hand weed removal by the greenkeeping staff. All records are independent for each course.
Notable practices are being introduced in the greenkeeping plan in order to minimize inputs on turfgrass. The use of plant growth regulators or the injection system for fertilize and treat the courses are an example of this.
Emirates Golf Club works with an external agency in order to recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and waste cooking. Additionally, the Club participates in the environmental campaigns promoted by Emirates Environment Group, which depends on the Emirate government. The facility has separate bins for recyclable materials, and turf clippings & cores are sent back in the courses (except whilst hosting tournaments). Contaminated pesticides cans are removed from the facility by Dubai Municipality; and the central procurement office has deals with scrappers in order to remove aluminum, metals, batteries and used tires.
Pollution is mainly controlled externally at Emirates Golf Club. Both a private company and Dubai municipality provide specific containers for wastes and hazard materials, allowing separation of different materials and products. Then, removal of containers and wastes is also provided by both entities. Water quality is analyzed and monitored; and the trends in each water parameter affecting turf health is evaluated in order to arrange the maintenance program. As an outstanding point, the facility accounts with a recycling device which allows reusing the water coming from the washing of the pieces of machinery.
Water analysis is monitored on site on a yearly basis. Water quality analysis provided by the treatment sewerage plants are compared to those done in private laboratories. Trends in the most important water parameters which determine turf health and soil structure are evaluated; and a correction program including soil amendments application, water quality improvement, irrigation leaching fractions calculation, etc. is developed. Records are kept at the greenkeeper’s office.
Waste water on the different buildings goes to sewage. Water coming from the washing pad in the maintenance facility is recycled in a sophisticated device which separate debris and toxic chemicals (oils, grease and fuels) from clean water. Machinery is blown before washing in order to eliminate solid wastes; and the cleaned with the recycled water.
Hazardous materials are classified and registered at the facility in secure storage. Fertilizer bags are stored in a shelter and pesticides are kept in a specific container accomplishing all the legal requirements. Lubricants, oil filters and batteries are stored; and detergents and cooking oils are kept safely in the Clubhouse building prior to their removal by the outsourcing company for waste management.
Pollution prevention at the Clubhouse is guaranteed thanks to both impervious & and covered areas for the storage of hazardous products. Almost all the equipment is undercover in the maintenance facility, thanks to a well studied and effective workshop organization. Sand based absorbents are available in the facility in order to act over any leakage that may occur. Fuel tanks are below ground in the external area of the workshop.
An external contractor carries out the pest control in food production area, non food production area, offices and the surrounding areas of the clubhouse
Advanced and responsible greenkeeping practices prevent pollution in the golf course at The Emirates Golf Club. Thanks to exhaustive control over the irrigation programming, runoff and leaching is almost avoided. The fertilization program is based on foliar applications, including spoonfeeding plans with small nutrient doses. Controlled release fertilizers are used when fertilizing with granular and solids products.
Regarding pesticides, a preventive program is carried out in order to use the lowest rates of fungicides and insecticides. Herbicide programs are substituted by manual removal of non desired grasses when possible.
Although the playability requirements avoids vegetation surrounding all the perimeters of the lakes, when there is not interference with the game buffer strips are established in order to avoid runoff into the water bodies. Lake in hole 2 is a perfect example of this.
The Emirates Golf Club shows the magnificence of Dubai worlwide, thus playing an outstanding community role which provides valuable social and economic profits. It attracts tourism, allows real state development, and provides golf and leisure activities to the people living in the small communities surrounding the property and along the city. The different courses and practices areas make golf accessible for all kind of players, and can host European tour venues as well which are followed by millions of spectators. Golf is available even by night, allowing golfers to play during the hot summer or after long working days.
On the other hand, the high level of presentation and attention reached all along the property requires manpower, thus providing employment opportunities. Local contractors are contacted permanently in order to provide services and products.
Finally, Emirates Golf Club aims to communicate its public and audience its compromise with sustainability, and its specific policies for minimizing the impact on the environment.
Almost all employees are full time contracted at the Club, thus providing them stability and long term opportunities. More than 300 employees are registered and responsibilities, roles and missions are clearly defined for each position. Formation & education programs are followed rigorously in health & safety, energy saving, waste management, english, risk prevention & evaluation or emergency plans. A full time nurse takes care of the employees needs. The course manager attends the Golf Industry Show frequently, attending specific seminars addressed to the problems and issues affecting its turf.
Emirates Golf Club sustainability working group is constituted by the general manager, course manager and facility manager.
Emirates Golf Club is a quasi government entity, which accounts with a specific department that deals with every government related matter. For instance, Dubai Wildlife protection office sends its peers to check what goes on at the Club.
The Club supports programs & campaigns for waste management such as Clean Up Our World or the Plastic Collection Campaign.
The club maintains a fantastic relationship with Omega, partnership of the European tour venue. Local contractors, community neighbors and tourists maintain a close relationship with the Club.
Finally, it’s remarkable the significant amount donated by Dubai Golf towards Seve Ballesteros Foundation, which help in introducing golf to young players and which supports research related to brain tumors.
The Clubhouse simulates an arab tent camp, and so does the signature on the golf course. Wildlife and vegetation heritage is preserved on the specific habitats. The old tradition of falconry, proud of the Emirates, Is kept for bird control in the courses.
Emirates Golf Club does not present any known legal disputes affecting the site, nor any community conflict connected to the facility or related business activities.
External communications are mainly carried out by posting and sending newsletter on the Clubhouse. Brochures and press notes are periodically released.
The Dubai Desert Classic, taking place every year at the Club, and other major professional and amateur tournaments, are another exponent of external communications at Emirates Golf Club.
Internal communications relating environmental issues are provided through boards & posters displays in the facility area. Procedures to be follow are published and accessible for all employers in the workshop. A video hall for training is available for specific communications.
Emirates Golf Club has become one of Dubai’s flagships, projecting stunning views of the Marina skyline and the desert habitats surrounding the golf courses. The achievement of excellence regarding greenkeeping practices is reached along with environmental protection and sustainability goals. Its outstanding community role developed through the hosting of European tour tournaments is completed with its role in providing valuable socio-economic benefits.
Sustainability is enhanced by desert habitats and original ecosystems conservation & protection, and green maintenance practices aim strongly to water use reduction, energy efficiency, turf maintained areas reduction and improved drought & disease sward resistance.
• Emirates Golf Club plays an outstanding community mission by promoting Dubai worldwide.
• The Club is committed with environmental sustainability by enhancing the conservation and protection of desert habitats, with their wildlife & vegetation.
• Land heritage is achieved thanks to the original design that understood the value of the site and that integrated the courses into the desert particularities, with its characteristic sand dunes and rolling shape.
• Efforts in water responsible use and water conservation policies are a fact: The Club has renovated its irrigation system to the latest technology, plus allowing huge energy savings.
• Significant reduction of maintained turf areas is taking place in the Faldo course, switching the original sward into autochthonous species such as the desert fox grass.
• Notable practices are being introduced in the greenkeeping plan in order to minimize inputs on turfgrass: fertilization plans, plant growth regulators applications, irrigation & wetting agents strategies are update with the latest knowledge.
• 18 holes floodlit are available to allow golfers play golf by night, such avoiding heat during the hot season and enjoy golf after work.