Upsala Golf Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
To begin with, it’s a must to mention that Upsala GK has taken some huge steps forward in achieving a more sustainable management of the club. The club has since 2010 been the forerunner in this area in its county, not at least thanks to the enthusiastic board and direction. To this come a very professional sustainability committee and a dedicated course manager. The highlights of the steps taken forward are placed in the energy, nature and pollution prevention sections. A thorough energy survey has been conducted, giving concrete suggestions on how to save energy in both the short and long term. The club has already adopted some of the measures and is planning realising some of the others. Adding to this, the club has switched to “green tariff” energy and also has sent in an application in order to finance the installation of solar cells. In the nature section the club has made a follow up to the nature survey from 1998. The survey includes concrete management suggestions for the club to follow, which it already has started to. When it comes to pollution prevention the club has built a new dam in order to remove phosphorus from the wastewater coming from the clubhouse. A solution much cheaper and simpler than the suggestion of measure from the municipality, a great way of showing that sustainable work most of the time surely is good both for the environment and the economy. As before it will be very exciting to follow the clubs sustainable work in the future. The enthusiasm, energy and professionalism is certainly there.
The courses lies in a beautiful and a hilly landscape and the most of the holes are on former farming land. The landscape itself is quite varied with small forests, wetlands, old cultural areas and open spaces.
A new ecological and biotope survey was carried out in 2015, which contains management suggestions. The survey is a follow up to the thorough one from 1998. The results of the survey shows that the club in some areas is managing the nature according to the suggestions, the majority, from 1998 but in some areas are not. In 2016 the club has started implementing the new managing suggestions according to the new survey. Since before an inventory of birds exist which says that there are at least 64 species sighted on the course and some of them, for example Green Sandpiper and Corn Crake, need a very specific habitat. Another new survey of the dams has been carried out and the report can tell that Great Crested Newt, Smooth Newt and frogs was sighted and the club is acting according to the managing suggestions for the dams, for example they never harvest before July.
No real juridical designations exits on the course but some parts are by the regional authority considered to have very high nature value, especially the marshy alder-tree forest, which in Sweden is strongly threatened as habitat. An expert from the National Forest Board has recently visited the club in order to give concrete suggestions for the management of the alder-tree forest. For example club must generally let the forest be untouched but disforest some fir trees in the outskirts of the forest.
Creeping bent is the main species on the greens but the club has, as many other clubs, continual problems with invading Poa annua. Since five years the latter is plucked so the club keeps the amount of it down quite well but you can easily spot it on most of the greens. But the club is now starting to give up the fight against Poa, it’s too much to pick and when you pick on plant you “wake” ten more, even though the club often has strong winters and therefore creeping bent is well equipped for the course. The rest of the playing field is a mi x of Poa pratensis (Kentucky Bluegrass) and Lolium perenne (Perennial Ryegrass), species that also are well equipped for the climate at the course and Lolium perenne has very low demands of water and fertilizers.
Since 2014 a fence is surrounding the course in order to keep Wild boar out of the course. Wild boar can do incredible damage to a golf course and the strain in Sweden has exploded the last decades. The fence is working very well as the Wild boar hasn’t been on the course since. During 2016 some fairways have been modified, decreased, in order to create a livelier course. Some of the areas that are being haymaked once a year in the beginning of the fall are in play, which is quite nice. The blackthorn bushes, very tough to find and play the ball in, that are saved are very important for many species and the clearing of brushwood elegantly fits in to the playing fields. Over all you can say that the conservation and enhancement activities bring higher value to the game, not only to the biodiversity, especially since the club started to follow the new management suggestions.
The water needed is taken from two main sources, groundwater and surface. The large part of the water used is from surface, which is a very good thing. Looking at the systems for water use the club is at the front in Sweden.
The club is allowed to take 30,000 m3 per year from the stream Hågaån to use for irrigation if the water in the ponds is not sufficient. This limit has never been exceeded. A comprehensive analysis at 2011 of the drinking water, taken from the own well, showed that the water is in very good shape. Water samples are since a couple of years taken both concerning chemicals and nutrients from the inflow and outflow. The results show that the amount of chemicals found are way below the national guideline values and that among the nutrients only Phosphorus showed an increased value, and only a slightly one and nothing that the authorities mind. The club has yet no reliable meters for the water used in the clubhouse and the maintenance houses. This must be fixed until the next re-certification.
The new irrigation system was installed 2007-2009, new greens built according to USGA specifications and a demand driven irrigation program is securing an efficient water use. Valve-in-head (ViH) with its individual controlled sprinklers has been installed both on the old course and the new course, the latter since the last certification in 2013. ViH is a very good way in making the irrigation even more effective and it is used by approximately 10% of the courses in Sweden and is worth installing when renovating the playing fields. The wetting agent (Affinity) is used every sixth week, probably below average in Sweden, during dry seasons and not at all during rainy seasons, like 2012.
Low-flow toilets and automatically shut down showers are other activities to reduce water consumption.
The amount of energy used for the whole club is quite ordinary compared to other clubs of this size in Sweden.
The club has now changed to “green tariff” renewable energy, which is renewable energy and that is great. The club has for a long time considered installing its own renewable energy sources like solar cells and ground heating. Now the club has sent in an application for financing the installation of solar cells. This is great even though the club still hasn’t received an answer to the application.
The club is leasing its machines, which gives it a great opportunity to change to ethanol or rapeseed oil driven machines as they enter the market in larger scale. The consumption of diesel seems to have decreased during 2016. The club conclusion is that this is because of the modified mowing lines on some of the fairways, this because of less time spent on mowing. The use of biodiesel instead of diesel for the green- and tee mowers as the club does since 2009 is a good thing. But the original sources and the production of the biodiesel must be environmentally friendly.
A serious energy survey with proposals has been carried out since the last certification. Some of the proposals in that have been realised like new air-heating pumps in both the clubhouse and the maintenance area. Fourteen new radiators have been installed in order to decrease the amount of energy used. Installation of motion detectors in the dressing rooms has been carried out since earlier. This is a relative easy and cheap way of saving energy.
The restaurant and pro-shop are sub-contractors to the club. However, the club find it very important that the goals of the restaurant and the pro-shop match the clubs goals. This of course includes the environmental goals and the sub-contractors are deeply involved in the environmental work.
The new owner of the restaurant uses a supplier, which has only a small amount of organic products but on the other hand has a policy saying that it shall favour local products. The owner has by itself no room for looking for organic or locally produced products but is well aware of the club’s policies and is much more in to sustainability work than the former owner.
The club purchases to best possible economy with lowest possible environmental impact and put environmental-, quality- and ethical demands on their suppliers and prioritize those who have a documented environmental- and quality work.
The club is always trying to buy local products although the major part of retail and course suppliers is within 100 km. But, the trade and contractors are all within 10 km from the club.
Since 2011 the club partly (40%) has used an organic fungicide during summer, Verdera Turf PS, on the greens with a good result. That is, the amount of fungi has not increased. The useful microbes penetrate to the roots of the plant and confiscate the space needed by the fungi. The fungicide also strengthens the roots. However, during 2016 the club has problems with deliveries from the supplier that can be used. The thing is that now the product comes like a powder instead of liquid like before. The powder doesn’t solve like it should and can therefore not be used. The club has talked to the supplier and asked for the liquid instead but until today nothing has happened. The club is using Primo Maxx since 2012 in order to reduce the cuttings and the greenkeeper has a strong notion of a cutting reduction because of Primo Maxx.
The recycling stations on the course are working better and better and the club has installed complemented stations on high frequent areas on the course. The waste disposal plan is quite thorough and includes all operations on the club and the recycling system involves all major waste including glass, plastics, cardboard etc.
The club is acting according to, when those exist, directions from national and local authorities and also from the Swedish Golf Federation. Three members of the staff together have the authority by education to handle pesticides and hazardous materials. This gives that the club seems to have good control over their potential pollution and does what it can to prevent possible accidents. The use of water and its waste is in many ways kept on the area of the club.
The analysis from the inflow/outflow is since late 2013 being sent to the municipality in order to show a good will and transparency of the club's environmental work and impacts and also to enhance the relation to the municipality even more. The analysis show nothing above the detection line concerning fungicides or fertilizers and analysis will be carried out also during 2017. The municipality carries out the analysis from the clubs well, used for drinking water, but the club itself carries out the actual sample taking. The club then pays the municipality for the analysis. Nothing bad has come up in the analysis. Analysis for the inflow and outflow has been carried out once. This concerned substances from pesticides and showed nothing above the detection line.
The club did in 2014 get an ordination from the municipality to fix ablation of phosphorus from one of the dams, which takes some waste water from the clubhouse. The municipality had a very expensive solution but the club made its own and cheaper solution, which contained a new dam with plants that are taking up the phosphorus. This solution is both more environmentally friendly and cheaper, but, all due to the rules by the authorities.
The handling of hazardous materials is done in a proper way. Worth mentioning is that the regulations for this in Sweden is quite rigorous so the club has to do it very well in order not to breaking the law.
The mixing of the fungicides is carried out over a biobed, which is all according to Swedish law and all the actions carried out to prevent pollution at the clubhouse and maintenance area are done in a correct manner. And, for whatever the club is doing, from handling pesticides, fertilizers and fuel to maintenance of equipment, it is very thorough in doing it, and get ok, according to the directions from the authorities.
Every year the club sends a report to the municipality showing that it follows the permission it get every fifth year. Worth mentioning is the need-based fertilization, done by fertilizers in liquid form. Together with grass samples being taken and IPM-actions described in the club's GEO-on course this both minimizes the leakage of fertilizers and probably brings down the costs.
The club has a very dedicated board driving the sustainability work from the top. Not at least the chairman is a driving force, having expressed several good reasons for the club taking part of this work. This can be observed both in documented decisions and in talking to the chairman. The outspoken dedication for sustainability work by the board and its chairman is an absolute need for doing a serious job concerning this issue. This together with the staff's, especially those in for these work relevant positions, dedication the club has a solid base for this work.
Heart and lung rescue education have since 2014 been carried out for all of the staff. Overall, the club is very keen on having the whole staff, of course including the sub-contractors, on the train of sustainability. This shows not at least concerning information and implementation of the new waste-disposal routines, which takes the whole staff to run smoothly.
The fact that the sustainability group has the status of a formal committee, and not only an informal working group, is very, very important. The sustainability group, committee, is very well comprised with both members and persons in highest position in their field, the course manager and the person in charge of the grounds. The committee is continuously invited to the board meetings.
The collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has been refreshed, which is a good thing. The club form since a couple of years a part of a collaboration group, chaired by the County Administrative Board of Uppsala County, dealing with the maintenance of areas with high natural values. The group is comprised of several important actors in the county. This is very valuable when it comes to the club's community relations and to its enhancements of its natural areas. The club has also a good relation with the municipality, a relation in which the club has been the driving force in many fields.
Golf clubs in the Nordic Countries and not at least in Sweden is many times perfect for recreation during wintertime. The club has realized this and every snowy winter it ploughs the paths for the public and prepares tracks for cross-country skiing. Both these activities are important in having a good relation with the community and also being part of the health movement. The graveyard from the Iron Age, seated just beside the open-air café is mesmerizing to stand and look at. The club takes good care of it by having a nice sign telling guests and members of the history of the area and just let the graveyard be. The club is well aware of the eight other ancient monuments seated in the facility.
The members of the club are getting more and more into and appreciating the sustainability work. One of the reasons for this is that they are continuously invited in deciding major things about the sustainability work. Not at least the annual decision of the management plan where the sustainability plan is included. As a complement the weekly newsletter gives the members insight in this area.
New information signs about the nature and the cultural heritage have been installed on the course and on the surroundings of the clubhouse. The local newspaper has published an article about the club’s GEO-certification. The website of the club is a very good example of how to promote the sustainability work at a golf club. It includes everything from policies and environmental plans to surveys done on the course.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Minutes of Meetings
- Register of Accidents
The spirit in the club to conduct sustainability work is still excellent and some of the reasons for doing it, put forward by the serious and enthusiastic chairman's are more than ever good reasons; more members, enhanced focus on the facility, prouder sponsors, more green fee guests. To this of course comes a more sustainable club when it comes to the environment. Since the last time I visited the club a lot of positive steps forward have occurred when it comes to sustainability work. Among other things the club really has raised its ambitions concerning energy. A thorough energy survey showing where to save energy has been conducted by a serious and acknowledged company, giving concrete suggestions on how to save energy in both the short and long term. The club has already adopted some of the measures and is planning realising some of the others. To this comes that the club has switched to “green tariff” energy and also has sent in an application in order to finance the installation of solar cells. Another area that the club has followed the CIPs from 2013 is concerning the nature areas on the course as a thorough follow up to the 1998 nature survey has been conducted by serious professionals and the survey includes ambitious management suggestions, which the club already has started to follow. These areas alone clearly show that the club is on the right path towards a more sustainable managed golf club. The will to continuously enhance the sustainable work is crucial and Upsala GK is surely a splendid ambassador in showing this will. As I said in the conclusion about the club in 2013, it will be very exiting following the club's coming achievements in the sustainability field the coming years.
- The new dam for removal of phosphorus from wastewater is a great way of showing that sustainable work most of the time surely is good both for the environment and the economy.
- By modifying the mower lines the club has decreased its use of diesel and at the same time cut down the amount of hours used for mowing.
- At last I just have to mention the switch to “green tariff” energy. The mitigation of the climate change is by far the biggest challenge human kind has ever stood in front of. The switch to “green tariff” energy is just a phone call away but in the end it can be the most important phone call ever.