Kristianstads Golf Klubb I Åhus
Executive summary (English & local language)
Kristianstads GK is the fifth oldest golf club in Sweden and as that it has had a traditional development. First nine holes, then after a number of decades eighteen holes, another nine holes and then in 2006 a new eighteen holes course. The old course named the East Course and the new one the West Course, both of them situated in the Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve, prompting the club to move steadily towards increased sustainability work. The new owner is certainly ready to modernize the managing of the courses, and has already started since a couple of years back, and the new greenkeeper has a clear philosophy of not using any chemicals or fertilizers more than absolutely needed. As the Biosphere Reserve is designated by UNESCO you can say that the club has the eyes of the world on it, and therefore has do whatever it takes to keep developing the sustainable work. New ecological surveys with management suggestions is one way of showing that the club is keeping the sustainable pace up. The reconstructed irrigation system at the east course, including valve in head sprinklers, in 2016, an effort giving less area to irrigate, is another way. Not at least the latter investment is important thinking of the future low groundwater levels in especially the southern part of Sweden. The prediction is that keeping down the amount of irrigation water will rise to a more important level than before for golf clubs in Sweden so Kristianstads GK is by this investment in the frontline for this area of golf course management. This together with the strong collaboration with the surrounding community makes it very exciting to follow the club in the future when it comes to sustainability.
The club has its two courses at the sandy grounds west of Åhus in Skåne, an area with a very exciting history. The area is, because of the limy soil and the traditional land-use, very rich in species and bears a very interesting flora and fauna. Early surveys have shown that the sandy cultivated land contains several threatened species in Skåne and Sweden as a whole. The course is situated within the Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve, giving the club specific demands when it comes to sustainability work and relations to the community.
Much because of the fact that the club has its residence in a Biosphere Reserve, the nature surveys is quite thorough. Especially the surveys of the Solitary Bees and other insects are of great interest. In the summer of 2016 a survey was carried out concerning nesting birds on parts of the course. The result shows an impressive amount of species on the course, for example the long-eared owl (Asio otus) and the European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis).
UNESCO designated the Biosphere Reserve at 2005. These reserves are areas designed to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature. This means that the club has strict rules of how to manage the course and the nature it contains. One of the most exciting habitats is the sandy soil, which is perfect for many species of Solitary Bees.
The east course was totally reconstructed and ready in 2017, all due to the new owners who took over the club in 2014. The species on the greens on this course is the same as before but the greens are made in the “Californian style, the sand is still there but the top is USGA-style. Poa is now getting in to the west course as well but there seems to be no problem with that. You can say that both courses have a blend of species, although the players don’t notice that. But, each green are “personal” and needs a “personal” management. On the West Course the main species is Red Fescue. The East Coast is dominated with Poa annua but the club is now sowing with Common Bent. The greenkeeper had a will of having the 3rd or 4th generation of Poa annua, which has the characteristic of not producing any seeds. This went well but the 4rd generation started to die and the first generation came back so now it starts all over again.
A large area at the west course has seen 2016 been burnt in order to enhance the biodiversity and a large amount of small pine trees, about 3,000-4,000, has been pulled up, which is an expansion since 2014. The club has a thorough management plan for the nature areas of the course including the roughs and leaving dead logs in the woodland. In order to enhance the biodiversity of birds, 30 new nest boxes where put up in 2015. The new ponds on the east course (see “Water”) have piled edges and the club has a big challenge in keeping the amphibians and birds in the ponds although three fleeting bridges already have been installed in order to make it easier for the nestlings to get out of the ponds. The small-scale disturbance of some areas, like ploughing, in order to increase and diverse the biodiversity has been stopped due to that the biological expertise said that it didn’t give anything. A lot of energy was put in to promote the Solitary Bees on the course. This was made e.g. by creating sandy habitats and food for the bees and now the club let the bees take care of themselves for a while.
One important ambition for the club is to have the West Course dry and compact. This gives that the amount of irrigation water shall be so low that the grass survives without having the ambition of keeping it clear green, which is the new ambition for the East Course. So, rather a brown than green grass on the West Course, like the links courses of the British Islands, constructed on sandy soil similar to that in the Åhus area. So, the newly reconstructed East Course will be more like a park course with greener grass and the west course will still be more like a links course with harder and browner turf. The members in general like the fact that the West Course is more brown and hard.
The club has its own wells to obtain water for irrigation. The groundwater level is still very high compared to other places in Sweden so there are still no restrictions. The club has applied for a water-rights judgement to secure the irrigation in the future. The extremely sandy soil makes it very difficult to keep the water in hand for the growing turf. This gives that much of the irrigated water runs through the soil and leaves a decreased amount for the roots. Because of this the amount of water needed for irrigation is fairly high, especially on the East Course.
The irrigation system at the east course was reconstructed due to the new owners, including valve in head sprinklers, in 2016, an effort giving less area to irrigate. It is connected to the system at the west course so they can “help” each other. The new system will be more effective and that gives the club opportunity to irrigate the east course a bit more without increasing the amount of water used, hopefully it will decrease, and thus get greener turf. So, the same amount of irrigation water, or less, will be used but more effective. A fully computerized irrigation system, which is continuously serviced and re-calibrated, gives the club an efficient irrigation. The irrigation is performed during evenings and nights.
A soil moisture device has been used since 2013. The device detects instantly how much irrigation that is needed on specific spots and is seen as a very, very useful tool by the greenkeeper together with the rain bucket that shows how much rain has fallen. All the ponds are since 2016 reconstructed and have sealed bottom, which secure the water in the ponds. The new ponds have piled edges and the club has a big challenge in keeping the amphibians and birds in the ponds.
The club is a very good example of how to use energy sources that in a large amount keep the amount of climate gases down. The new buildings, club house and machine hall, will be much more energy effective than those today.
The club uses renewable energy from turbines in water and saves by that around 40 tons of CO2-emissions each year. The amount of energy used has increased since 2015, mostly because that the club bought the restaurant. The amount of petrol used 2016 increased because of the reconstruction of the east course.
Hybrid mowers are used, which has decreased the amount of diesel used by these sorts of mowers from 2 l/h to 0.6 l/h. During the planning of the new buildings, plans of a earth heating system are included.
Motion sensor lighting in some places and a low frequent pump are examples of activities undertaken to reduce energy use. The pump used to be a 30 KW one but is now an 11KW one.
The club is doing a good job using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) when managing the course. Among the actions performed is rolling the greens, airification, measuring the soil moisture and thatch-away.
Since 2013 the club has a purchasing policy used when purchasing goods and services. A concrete example is that the club buys sand for dressing from local suppliers and in general the club wants to support local entrepreneurs.
Most of the food, beverage and retail are purchased within 10 km, which is very good. The club is always trying to purchase from local traders but this is sometimes hard, especially when it comes to maintenance equipment. The sand for bunkers is purchased from a very local entrepreneur at Bäckaskog, not far from the club.
The amount of pesticides is still limited and has in fact for some of the areas been reduced the last three years. The amount of fertilizers used is sometimes somewhat high but not exceptional. The explanation can to a large amount be that the fertilizers run through the sandy soil, which of course is not optimal due to course being situated on one of the largest water resources in Sweden. But, the club is now using a microbiological culture on some greens in order to strengthen the turf with a very good result and fertilizers for the leaf of Poa annua is used during late in the year in order to strengthen the turf against fungi. The club uses a large amount of organic fertilizers, but this doesn’t show in the OnCourse. The amount of herbicides used 2016 is very high because of an extreme year of dandelion (Taraxacum F.H. Wigg).
Grass clips from greens and tees are used as fertilizer on different parts of the course. The club has a well-developed system for waste management for recycling including transporting the grass clips from the roughs and rest food from the restaurant to Kristianstad for biogas production. There is a rudimentary compost for grass clippings on the maintenance area.
The club has a detailed emergency action plan for the whole facility, which includes for example hazardous materials, pesticides and emergency routes. It also has, since a few years, a project plan for the environmental work. The plan clearly points out the goal with a specific action/project, the one who is responsible, the planned start and when it has been accomplished.
Each year since 2015 the club carries out a water quality analysis for inflow, on-site and on outflow. The analysis shows no signs of bad things.
The wastewater from the clubhouse and the maintenance facility is run through the mains sewer, which secures, as far as you can go, from leakages and that the water is being taken care of properly.
The handling of hazardous materials is carried out strictly according to Swedish law. As this law is quite tough the handling is done in a very secure way.
A sink for taking care of the wastewater in the maintenance area has been constructed and the pesticides are mixed on a biologically active spot.
The hybrid mowers reduce the risk of leakage on the course and a municipality sewer has been connected to the kiosk on the course. Many of the greens adjacent to the ponds can’t have any vegetative buffers, but the water in the ponds is only used for irrigation and is not leaking down to the groundwater.
A follow up of the environmental policy was made in 2015 but no changes or additions where needed. The three main goals of the policy are; saving of natural resources, conservation of biodiversity and communication and education. The course is adjacent to the Sånnarnas out door museum, a cultural landscape museum, containing a diverse flora and fauna connected to the old cultural landscape. A project together with the Biosphere Reserve and STERF ended up in a public nature path on and around the course and now new signs have been put up along the path, telling about the nature.
Specially trained staff is taking care of the new irrigation system. The staff is continuously being educated and updated on things for example concerning the personal health, how to irrigate more effectively and how to manage the habitats and natural vegetation on the course.
The sustainability group is comprised of a perfect mix of people with different skills and responsibilities. It ranges from general manager and course manager to technical specialist and representatives from the local government and NGOs and the group is considered a committee.
The club has very good collaborations with the local NGOs, the municipality and the Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve. Sometimes the club invites the schools and some times the schools comes spontaneously. There is also a golf gymnasium, created by the municipality and the club, near the club and pupils are of course frequent visitors at the club. A domestic dog club beneath the west course has its grass cut by club. Each year in the middle of June the club is part of a Nordic annual event called “The day of the wild flowers” and the club’s arrangement is one of the best visited in Sweden that day.
A thorough archaeological and cultural historical survey has been carried out. It shows the history of the area from early geological formations, to the prehistoric age and ending up in the history from the Middle Ages until recent. In order to care of the heritage the club did continuously conduct ploughing and haymaking parts of the course. But, for the last two years the machine, given to the club from the municipality, taking away the hay is broken and the municipality don’t want to replace it and the ploughing didn’t give anything so the club stopped doing it.
All the signs on tees etc have been changed from plastic etc to signs in wood and steel and which are much more minimalistic and blend in with the surroundings. The club arranges internal nature seminars with well renowned speakers, arrangements that gather around 70 members listening. Apart from this the club has produced a brochure called “More than a golf course, take care of environmental and cultural values” and the newsletter, issued every second week, sometimes contains information about the sustainability work.
On the website the part concerning the sustainability work has a top position and it contains thorough information about its sustainability work. The club has many times figured in the local and regional newspapers about the sustainability work.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
The new owners have really invested in the club with its courses. The East Course has been reconstructed including new greens and irrigation system. A new clubhouse and a new maintenance area are on their way the coming years, hopefully making the energy use much more effective. At the same time the sustainability work has continued and even increased in some areas, like the above. In my point of view, Kristianstads GK is moving into a new era, which hopefully will move the sustainability work further forward. But, the new investments and new thinking must always keep the sustainability in the front row. The new ponds on the East Course are great in saving water but at the same time they will have to reassure the future for the flora and fauna in them, the piled edges not being optimal in that sense. But I’m sure the club will handle that in a sustainable way in the future, as a healthy nature is one of the bases for a modern golf course. Kristianstads GK has a large responsibility being a part of the Kristianstads Vattenrike Biosphere Reserve and it must always bear that in mind when developing the whole facility. But, I’m in great confidence that it will manage that and I’m really looking forward in coming back to it with its friendly atmosphere, beautiful courses and constant development of its sustainability work.
The reconstruction of the irrigation system at the East Course is great and will for sure make the irrigation much more effective.
The East Course with its reconstruction has given this it a new face and the new greens will hopefully reduce the amount of water, fertilizers and pesticides used.