St Anne's Old Links
Executive summary (English & local language)
St Anne's Old Links Golf Course is located in the coastal region of north west England and is designated for its ecologically important habitats. It takes a responsible approach to golf course management, basing its activities on a range of methods to reduce its environmental footprint and achieve an excellent standard of sustainable golf.
The club is situated landward of the internationally important coastline and sand dune complex associated with the Ribble Estuary. The site supports a range of habitats including remnants of a former more extensive dune system. The habitats associated with the course support a wide range of species and there is good evidence of careful and successful nature conservation work.
The club consults and works with a range of relevant organisations to help support its proactive management of biodiversity. These include Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the STRI and its golf course architect. A number of ecological surveys have been undertaken by the STRI to help provide guidance in the preparation for hosting tournaments on behalf of The R&A. A number of detailed surveys have been competed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, including on the day of my verification site-visit.
A range of habitats are present within the course. The dominant feature is stable semi-improved grassland associated with the rough, with a variety of species present that are associated with habitats in the re-routed sand dune system. Also present are a number of standing waterbodies, areas of scrub, ruder vegetation and short ephemeral perennial plants. Groups and individual trees are present. Areas of heather dominated habitat are stable and appear to be expanding as a result of management works. Areas of bare sand are also present. Some non-native pants such as Japanese rose have been recorded, with management underway.
The golf course is a non-statutory designated Lancashire Biological heritage Site (reference SD315305). It is separated from the Lytham St Anne's Local Nature Reserve and Lytham St Anne's Dunes Site of Special Scientific Interest by a railway line. On the far side of the SSSI is the Ribble Estuary SSSI, the Ribble and Alt Esatuaries Ramsar Site and the Ribble and Alt Estuaries Special Protection Area. As such, St Annes Old Links provides a valuable ecotone function to these designated sites, and its ecological value is increased because of this, as well as in its own right.
Turfgrass cultivars have been selected to be optimal for the conditions associated with the course and this is evidenced by their successful establishment in the local environment, including the soils on which the course is situated and the management practices of recent decades.
A wide range of conservation and management practices (including creation of new areas of bare sand, provision of deadwood piles for invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles, management of scrub and undesirable plants) have been implemented, drawing on advice received by the STRI and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and observed during the site-visit.
A range of water management measures are implemented by the club ensure it takes a sustainable approach to course and facility management.
Water is sourced from public/potable supplies at the current time. Records demonstrate that water usage has been reduced between 2015-2016, although prevailing weather conditions will influence the amount required.
Course irrigation is minimised wherever possible, with only greens, tees and a small number of problem areas receiving irrigation. A computerised system is used to control the irrigation operation, taking into account soil moisture and weather conditions. Overseeding proposals are inlace to increase the abundance of drought tolerant grass species and this is supported by careful management of the playing surface including soil decompaction, thatch management and Air2G2 techniques, together with the use of wetting agents as appropriate.
Water efficiency is achieved on the course through a range of measures including regular maintenance of irrigation infrastructure. In the club house a number of measures have been introduced including the use of low flow urinals and toilets, and other water efficient devices.
The club employs maintenance staff who undertake leak repairs as soon as they are reported.
The club has implemented a number of energy efficiency, renewable generation and other initiatives over recent years. Because of the age of the clubhouse, significant changes are implemented at a point where renovations, or a new system or piece of equipment is required.
Sources of energy associated with the club are dominated by natural gas and non-renewable grid electricity. No energy surveys have yet been undertaken.
The club has invested in a 4kWp Solar-PV system.
A range of initiatives have been implemented to increase energy efficiency, including new clubhouse loft insulation, a new central heating system installed, LED light bulbs are being installed wherever possible, motion sensors are in use for controlling lighting and heat is centrally controlled with timers and thermostats. Provision of facilities to encourage staff to cycle to work is made and number of employees are able to walk into work.
The club makes its purchases as and when it requires materials and minimises surplus stock, that in turn helps reduce waste generation. A number of local suppliers are used in addition to more national brands.
Wherever possible the club uses local suppliers as this helps build stronger local relationships which can be depended on as well as reduced delivery costs and energy consumption.
The club hosts a number of events and has regular visitors in attendance. This provides the opportunity to extend the economic benefits to the local hotel and service industry.
Turfgrass inputs are managed using a wide range of good IPM protocols. Inputs of fertilisers and other products are kept to a minimum. Quantities of turf grass inputs have varied across the last three years, but overall reducing with time.
Through its purchasing policy, the club avoids excess stock and thereby minimises unnecessary waste generation. It provides a broad array of waste segregation and recycling facilities, encouraging staff and members to use these. Materials are reused on the course (e.g. grass clippings, cores and turf, sand and wood and timber) and glass, plastic, aluminium, metal, paper and cardboard are all collected for recycling.
St Anne's Old Links Golf Club takes a serious approach to minimising the risk of pollution events occurring and also having the ability to respond in the event of an accidental spillage or leak. Staff are well trained and undergo regular appraisals including in pollution control techniques.
Washdown water is visually inspected on a daily basis. The club is in the process of undertaking chemical testing of the mains water used to irrigate the course. The analysis of the water will help ensure that it is suitable for the turf grass and other species present and whether any optimisation of the chemical composition and/or volume used is necessary.
The facility discharges to mains sewer managed by United Utilities. Washdown activities are captured in a closed loop system with waste water being reused.
Hazardous materials are kept in secure locked and bunded storage areas. Staff are trained how to work with these substances, including their safe application and disposal as well as how to respond in the event of an accidental spillage.
Fuel tanks and refuelling areas are located in a bunded outdoor position. These areas are also used for the mixing and refilling of herbicides. Only suitably trained individuals are allowed to apply herbicides. Pollution response kits are available and staff are trained in their use.
The application of pesticides/herbicides and fertilisers only occurs by suitably trained individuals and when weather conditions promote their use (e.g. minimising spray drift or runoff). Buffer zones are in place around standing water and there are designated no-spray areas (e.g. close to the more valuable habitats).
The club provides opportunities for local economic benefits associated with golfing visitors including past and future significant events. It is situated amongst a residential area and has good relationships with its neighbours.
The club has a good sized employed workforce and also provides further economic opportunities and good practice to its supply chain. Education is provided to its employees to undertake a range of technical and practical training activities associated with the environment and sustainable golf course management. A formal relationship has been established with Myerscough College with visiting students undertaking study visits.
The club has a sustainability working group that comprises
The club has a good relationship with local businesses and residents, liaising closely with local neighbours when work activities may generate noise. It reaches out further through its events which are publicised on social media and through links with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre amongst others.
The course is managed sympathetically to the dune land environment it is situated in. No formal known cultural heritage assets have been identified.
The club has an internal notice board that provide advice, information and helps raise awareness across a range of relevant topics. A weekly bulletin is circulated to all members that can include information on environmental and sustainability issues.
The club has a good website and uses social media to maintain awareness of its course management activities and events.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Minutes of Meetings
- Register of Accidents
- Training Log
Based on the evidence submitted, reviewed in advance, at the club, and from the outcome of the site-visit I highly recommend St Anne's Old Links Golf Club be awarded GEO Certified status.
It it clear that the club implements a wide range of robust and high quality management practices and its staff are highly competent and passionate about the course environment. Moving through the course and particularly to the north and approaching the adjacent designated habitats, it was excellent to see how valued habitats and features were being successfully maintained and enhanced. This reflected the importance of the course in its own right and as an ecological resource that is helping to sustain the internationally valued coastal habitats it is situated adjacent to whilst supporting such a high quality golfing experience.