Zaanse Golf Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
On Wednesday 29th June I made a visit to the Zaanse Golfclub. This golf club, situated in Wijdewormer near Amsterdam, was one of the first golf courses in the Netherlands to receive the GEO certificate. First audited in 2009, they have now completed the GEO course for the second recertification. During the audit I was received by Rob Wilderom (course manager) and Frans van der Ploeg (treasurer), with whom I did a walk-through the audit procedure. During the audit we reviewed the documents the golf club provided, made a visit to the golf course and the facilities and spoke about measures that have been made for sustainable golf course management.
Op woensdag 29 juni heb ik een audit bezoek gebracht aan de Zaanse Golfclub. Deze in Wijdewormer nabij Amsterdam gelegen golfclub was een van de eerste GEO gecertificeerde banen van Nederland. Zij kregen het eerste certificaat in 2009 en gaan nu op voor de tweede heraudit. Tijdens de audit werd ik ontvangen door Rob Wilderom (baanmanager) en Frans van der Ploeg (penningmeester), met wie ik de auditprocedure heb doorgelopen.
Tijdens de audit hebben we de aangeleverde stukken doorgenomen, de golfbaan en faciliteiten bezocht en gesproken over uitgevoerde maatregelen ten aanzien van duurzaamheid.
The golf club was first established in 1987. During this time, the golf course had 9 holes, situated around an old swimming pool. This natural swimming pool was created during the breaking of the dike in 1825. In 2008 the golf club opened the extension of the 9th hole, situated on the east side of the terrain.
The terrain has many water features, almost every hole lies next to open water. The older part of the golf course has more trees, while the new part of the golf course has a more open landscape.
Surveys take place every year for birds and the golf club works closely with an ecologist on the survey of other species. Advice from the ecologist is always taken into consideration.
Water: the golf course holds many open water features, this makes it one of the major biotopes. For irrigation, surface water is used. It is therefore important to keep the water quality high. The quality is annually monitored by both the province and the water regulation authority. Also, the biological values of the water is monitored by the golf club. The water features hold several species of fish, of which at least one specie is protected. These species are an important indication of the water quality.
Banks: Because of the abundance of water features, the Zaanse has many banks. These are mostly overgrown with reeds and herbs. Reed is an important shelter for birds and insects.
Marsh vegetations: Recently, the golf club has made a natural pond with surrounding marsh vegetations. This pond was realised in order to improve the biotopes for amphibians.
Natural meadows: Because of the compact layout of the golf course and the rich soil, much of the grasses are mowed regularly. This means that meadow-like vegetation is only found around trees and along the dikes. In the past, the golf club has tried to increase the area of natural meadows, but this resulted in vegetations that were too rich in nutrients, thistles and caused hindrance to the holes.
Trees: most of the trees and other higher vegetation can be found on the older part of the golf course and exists of: oak, maple, field maple, ash and alder.
The grass species that have been selected for the golf course have specific characteristics. This has al to do with the high salt levels in the surface water. The current present grass species are the best for this situation and therefore a sustainable choice.
An ecologist is involved at the golf course. This person monitors the different species of plants and animals on an annual base to check the trends and numbers. Any advice that he gives is always taken into consideration and executed when needed. Mowing the vegetations is done in several stages, as has been decided with the province. This means that vegetation is always present on the banks in different stadia of growth.
As said before, the golf course has an abundance in open water features. The lake that was created during the breaking of a dike and several water features that are renovated by Noord-Hollandse Landschap that are now managed as wet meadows. Aside from that, a lot of attention goes to maintaining the water quality and protecting the banks. Many of the banks suffer from crumbling, causing several measures to be taken to prevent this. Reeds are an important feature and walls of willow branches are placed to prevent crumbling.
The area of the golf course lies about 3,5 metres below sea level. This means that water discharge of the entire polder is a big issue. Should the flow of water in the Wijdewormer polder not be effective, it could result in flooding elsewhere in the province. For this reason the polder where the golf course is situated serves as a water retention area.
The use of water in the club house and maintenance facility is stable. Since the last audit, several water saving applications have been installed in the club house. The golf club wishes to monitor the usage numbers and to keep on searching for new technologies. At the washing pad, the ‘waste to water’ system is still in use to purify the waste water in an environmental friendly way.
Irrigation water is gained from the large water feature (the former swimming pool). Although the water quality is not desirable for irrigation, the golf club has decided to work with grass species that react well to the higher salt levels in the soils. This means the golf club can use the surface water for irrigation.
In the polder, there is no shortage of water. More often, there is a surplus of water which results in wet locations on the golf course. By adding sand on the holes and a proper drainage system, the soil is kept permeable so that there is no hindrance for golf. The fairways are not irrigated and some of the sprinklers on the greens are deactivated because of some overlap.
The past three years, the golf club has been investing in measures to reduce the use of energy. One of the club members has a background in energy and helps to improve the energy efficiency. Based on his advice and knowledge, several instalments have already been made to help lower the energy numbers.
Both the usage numbers of fuels and electricity have been stable during the past years. By taking saving measures the following period of time should show the effect of these instalments. The golf club wishes to keep monitoring the use of energy sources and look for new adjustments of the facilities by using the knowledge of one of the club members.
During the past years, the golf club has done research into the transition to more sustainable sources of energy. The possibilities for the Zaanse are in both solar- and wind energy. A windmill should be an interesting choice, since there is always wind on the golf course. Because of the high investments costs. No instalments have been made so far.
The past years, several activities have been taken to reduce the use of energy. The golf club wishes to see results in lower numbers of energy use, especially the use of electricity, by the instalments that have been made. The undertaken activities are focussed on renewing hardware (equipment and heating), insulation of the club house and changing the lights on the driving range to led lights. This last instalment is a large scale consumer of energy on most golf courses. By changing the light system, the golf club hopes to save on energy significantly.
A remarkable change is the choice for conventional mowers instead of hybrid mowers. The golf club has made this choice because the mowing quality was not as good as they had hoped when they started to using the hybrid mowers. The club states it might have been too early for these technologies to use and hope that in the future they will be able to choose a hybrid mower that has a good mowing quality.
The purchase of food, beverages and materials is done locally as much as possible, about half of all suppliers of the golf course are situated within 10 kilometres of the golf course. The golf club has made it clear to the suppliers that they value sustainable produced products. Also, the maintenance of the golf course is focussed on limiting the use of fertilizers and chemicals. The golf club will continue this way of working during the next years.
The local entrepreneurs and suppliers to the golf course are certified and willing to help thinking about supplying sustainable and natural products. The golf club selects new products based on the quality and certificates.
Purchases are made locally as much as possible, although the club states this is not possible for all products. Some specialist businesses are situated farther away. However, the golf club favours local suppliers for their products and services.
The use of fertilizers that is used is registered annually. The quantities of used products are based on soil samples to see what the grass really needs. The salt levels in the irrigation water are taken into account when making a fertilizer plan and choosing grass species. The golf club proudly states that they have used no pesticides for 27 years. In 2013 a small amount of Primus was used to treat the golf course against daisies, when other mechanical an biological treatements had no effect. Other products that are used on the golf course is algae that has helped lowering the occurring diseases.
At the moment, the golf course is testing an installation that uses magnetic radiation underground. The head greenkeepers states that since this installation has been present, grass growth has been improved on several difficult locations. Perhaps this installation will have effect on the use of fertilizers during the next years.
In 2014, the head greenkeeper has conducted a waste audit. Waste is separated in different streams and collected. The waste quantities are registered by keeping the notes of the waste collector.
The golf club collects the green waste on a compost facility that is accommodated to the national regulations. The layer of absorbing material under the compost facility prevents any leachate from spilling to the soil. This absorbant layer is renewed each year to prevent pollution of leachate.
Each year, the municipality inspects the facilities on the Zaanse, and checks for health and welfare requirements. It is remarkable this takes place each year, and according to reports the golf club complies to all requirements. The golf club uses little to no pesticides, only under rare circumstances against daisies. Other pests and diseases are treated with biological products or by mechanical procedures. This is a unique situation in the Dutch golf business, and shows the golf club has a massive lead compared to other golf courses when it comes to the changing rules and legislation.
The water quality is controlled by both the province and the water regulation authority and the greenkeeping and ecologist. From recent samples, no deviant observations have been noticed, and the quality is well within the range of the requirements. The golf club will continue to monitor the water quality.
The discharge of waste water happens through the press sewers, the additional waste water from cleaning the machines purified by the ‘waste to water’ installation and is re-used. All other waste water, from the buildings and facilities, is discharged via the main sewers.
Hazardous materials that are present are treated the correct way (use, storage and discharge). The annual monitoring reports from the local authorities confirm this.
Empty packages and containers of chemicals are treated as if they were full and are stored in safe locations.
A good example for preventing pollution is the collecting point for PET bottles. PET bottles present one of the biggest waste types on the golf course. In concertation and on advice of the waste collector, there have been made several collection points for these bottles throughout the golf course, so these can be collected and reused.
From the discussion during the audit the golf club is presented as a knit community with heart for the golf course and the surroundings. There are more than 40 volunteers that help around the golf course. They are contacted for maintenance of the golf course, even mowing, and there is a separate group for machine maintenance. The manager keeps records and surveys among the club members to find out whose background may help in managing the golf course.
All greenkeepers are schooled in their profession and have the required certificates. It has been stated that the employer gives possibilities for development of the personnel by attending seminars and exchanging knowledge amongst other greenkeepers. There also is a well-established contact with the personnel of the training facilities of the football club AZ.
The working group for sustainability consists of several members with each a different profession. It is a compact but vigorous group that, as they say themselves, ‘transcending commissions’. This, because the subject of GEO contacts more than one commission (course commission, club house commission and event commission.
The relation that the golf club has with its surroundings is good and steady. There are many opportunities for exchanging knowledge and trainee places, and people from the social works are active in the maintenance of the golf course. The municipality is invited on the golf course once a year and local suppliers are contacted frequently.
The golf club has started the initiative to create RV locations on the golf course since this request has beenmade multiple times. This gives the golf club a new product: ‘camping and golfing’.
On the golf course itself there are no cultural elements present. At each tee the golf course shows a different type of windmill from the region.
Internally, much of the communication about sustainability is done digitally through newsletters and the website. The course planner shows an animal species for each hole and provide information about the biology of this species. This provides the golfer with insight on the local biodiversity.
The local environmental working groups are invited once a year for a course walk. Also, the local butterfly organization visits the golf course each year to monitor the moth species on the golf course. Towards new golfers and visitors, the website provides for all the information about the golf course. There also is a separate webpage for the nature and birds on the golf course, regularly updated by one of the golf club members.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- EIA Statement
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
The Zaanse has been working with the GEO procedures ever since 2009. It shows great vigor to see that each year the club finds points of improvement for energy usage, water quality and new technologies. Natural values are monitored annually and are reported. The involvement of the club members provides for both a positive maintenance budget, and the know-how on many different fields of profession that is used for the daily management. The Zaanse know how to work with challenges like the salt levels in the surface water and storing water for the region.
This shows that the golf club is future proof and therefore should be awarded the GEO certificate once again.
- Involvement of the club members concerning the maintenance of the golf course and the involvement in making the facilities lower in energy and water use;
- Conducting of water quality and waste audits on the club’s own initiative;
- Because of the frequent visits the local environmental inspectors and no use of plant protection products, the Zaanse is a good example for other golf courses concerning environmental care.