Golfbaan Sluispolder

GEO Certified® 09/2016
Alkmaar,
Netherlands
Telephone: 0031 (0)72 5 111 555
Sluispolder2_club_image

Executive summary (English & local language)

Golfcourse Sluispolder borders the urban region of the city of Alkmaar. It is located adjacent to the provincial road, N9.
The first nine holes, currently holes 10 to 18, are a typical Dutch polder course designed by architect Joan Dudok van Heel. In 1991 the course was expanded with another 9 holes designed by Alain Rijks.
These holes are characterized by a more undulating surface where, in comparison to the first nine, the soil contains a lot more sand.
Adjacent to the golf course a nine hole par 3 course was created in 2001. This brings the total surface area of the golf course to 60 hectares. The golf course and real estate are owned by Sluispolder BV.
Currently Sluispolder is not planning to expand its course/facilities.

Sluispolder is a polder course with certain features of a parkland course. During the designing process, both the architects were aiming to contain the typical features of the Dutch polder landscape. Therefore Sluispolder has a minimum of artificially undulated surfaces.
The firm coastal wind is an almost constant factor, although some holes are sheltered from the wind.
The area of Sluispolder is not bound by the laws of Natura2000 and Natuurnetwerk Nederland (a guideline for ecological structures in the Netherlands).
The province of Noord-Holland has designated the polder in which Sluispolder is located as ‘geologically valuable’ and ‘area of archeological expectations’. Therefore there are some legal boundaries; for example on earthworks.

The Noordhollandsche Golfcub (DNHGC), founded in 1982, is the golfclub that calls Sluispolder their home course.
The course is not owned by the club; DNHGC and Sluispolder BV have an agreement that gives DNHGC a right to an annual percentage of the tee times. This construction states that Sluispolder is the applicant for the GEO-certification.
The course committee of DNHGC is closely linked to the course management of Sluispolder. Therefore the course commissioner of DNHGC is also a member of the GEO-committee.
Both DNHGC and Sluispolder are involved in the GEO-certification process, which was started in 2013. The GEO-committee has set a number of goals, specified by GEO-themes.


Golfbaan Sluispolder grenst aan het stedelijk gebied van Alkmaar, slechts gescheiden door de Provinciale weg N9. In 1983 werden de eerste 9 holes geopend; een polderbaan naar ontwerp van golfbaanarchitect Joan Dudok van Heel. In 1991 werd de baan uitgebreid met 9 holes onder leiding van Alan Rijks. Deze holes zijn aangelegd in het licht geaccidenteerde en wat drogere strandwallen-landschap. In 2001 zijn 9 pars 3 holes aangelegd in een aangrenzend grasland. Renovaties vinden stapsgewijs plaats. Er zijn geen actuele uitbreidingsplannen. Het terrein meet momenteel 60 hectare en is - evenals het overig vastgoed - eigendom van Sluispolder BV.

Sluispolder is een polderbaan met soms kenmerken van een parkbaan. Bij de aanleg is er gekozen voor een minimum aan kunstmatig reliëf om zo het oorspronkelijke polderkarakter te behouden. De straffe kustwind heeft vrij spel op deze baan, hoewel er ook enkele holes in de luwte liggen. Er zijn geen wettelijke bepalingen vanuit (natuur-)beleid zoals aangrenzend Natura 2000-gebied of Natuurnetwerk Nederland (voorheen EHS). Wel zijn er beperkingen en voorwaarden vanuit de aanwijzing als ‘aardkundig waardevol gebied’ en ‘archeologische verwachtingen’.

De Noordhollandse Golfclub (opgericht in 1982) heeft geen eigen baan en is vanaf de opening vast te gast op Golfbaan Sluispolder. Door deze constructie is niet de club maar de golfbaan de aanvrager van het GEO certificaat. De golfclub is door middel van de baancommissaris, die tevens lid is van het GEO-team, nauw verbonden met de golfbaan. Club en golfbaan ondersteunen en stimuleren elkaar en de club voelt zich zeer betrokken bij het GEO-traject dat in 2013 werd opgestart. Het team heeft per thema GEO doelstellingen opgesteld.


Nature

Sluispolder is located in an old polder in the 'strandwallen- and strandvlakten landschap*' at about 1 meter below sea level. It is an open and undeveloped area between the urban area of Alkmaar and the wooded dunes of Schoorl. The golf course keeps open sight lines so that one can see the dunes from the N9. The winding and fairly broad ‘Tochtsloot’ (the main drainage canal) recalls the old polder and forms a natural border with the neighboring farm fields with a low density of grassland birds. The soil consists of loam and sand with traces of (heavy) clay. As a result of years of fertilization with manure the topsoil has become humic and peaty. The original variety of vegetation was not high, but is now more varied through the bushes and thickets, which mainly benefits the bird population. The variety of vegetation is still limited.

*A typical Dutch soil/landscape type, basically clay/loam on sand, created by sediment deposits formed by the sea.

2016 marked the beginning of the monitoring of flora and fauna, starting with three bird inventory rounds per year by a group of members led by a specialist from the local bird monitoring committee. Of the other subcategories of flora and fauna little is recorded. Data from regional wildlife research is available.

The tree management plan (2016) is the guide for the inspection and maintenance of the trees.
All trees are native for the area, except for some Metasequioa and Eleagnus. Species like Fraxinus excelsior, Alnus glutinosa, Salix alba and Populus Canadensis are iconic to the area. The Alnus trees are remarkably vital. The tree population consists of few pollarded trees.
Natural values are to be found all over the course. Exceptional areas of natural value are the Crataegus hedge, the remote swamp shrubbery and the main canal.
Some typical species are: hare (Lepus europaeus), common tern (Sterna hirundo), reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus) and reed orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa.

Grass types Festuca rubra, with addition of Agrostis and Poa pratensis determine the vegetation of the game elements. Festuca is resistant to drought and meager sea breeze; Agrostis creates a dense turf. Drier parts of the fairway are maintained as typical grassland, where fade and discoloration due to drought are not an issue. The tees consist of Lolium perenne. The composition of the unfertilized rough varies and develops naturally.

There is no separate nature management plan, but the greenkeepers are well aware of sensitive areas and time periods. Greenkeepers work according to a protocol respecting the Flora and Fauna law. The protocol is derived from the approved ‘Code of Nature Conduct’, in Dutch ‘Gedragscode Natuurbeheer’. The local bird monitoring committee has designated locations to be managed in favor of certain ornithological species. A limited number of places are now grazed by their own sheep.
Lakes and waterways form a connected water system, thus a connective ecological system.
Watercourses and (reed) banks are managed cyclically. Reed is mowed using a cutter basket with a special open mowing basket sparing the water organisms.
10 starling cabinets have been placed in order to combat the leatherjacket larvae.
There are no nesting boxes, but (limited) woodpiles and dense thickets where birds can nest.

Water

The water level of the polder ‘Sluispolder’ is at 1,18m below NAP. In periods of drought water can be let in by inlet culverts, situated at the outside of the course. The inlets are connected to the main water system of the entire polder, under supervision of the regional water authorities.
Ditches and canals are the main system to drain off water. The main canal is the Tochtsloot, which separates the old and newer parts of the course. This canal is maintained by the regional water authorities.
The drainage system of the course is completed with a system of golf course friendly gullies and natural drainage in lower areas so that during heavy rains the course will not be submerged.
Depending on the weather, the older and wetter parts of the course are closed for a few days a year.
With improvements and renewals of the drainage system the periods can be limited to a minimum.
Rainfall on paved surfaces is discharged onto the open water, while household wastewater is pumped to the sewage treatment plant in Alkmaar.
On a few lower areas seepage water comes up from beneath the soil, which contains quite a lot of sodium. The groundwater that is pumped for irrigation is also fairly high in sodium.

Greens and tees are irrigated with groundwater. This water is pumped up from a well with a depth of 48m, using two pumps. The consumption of the groundwater is tuned to the needs, therefore the values can vary. Groundwater is also used to clean the machines.
The drinking water consumption is large but steadily declining. The high consumption is explained by the multifunctional use of the clubhouse with a high capacity (parties, meetings, restaurant).

The amount of water that is pumped up is tuned to the needs of the greens and tees. Grass is irrigated minimally, so resilient grass is created. In the eighties, when Sluispolder was a starting golf course, greens were not irrigated at all; of course only in really dry periods. The main advantage was that Poa annua got no foothold.
Fairways that dry out extremely and quickly (off course situated on the newer part of the course) are irrigated manually, using single sprinklers. All around the newer part of the course there are connection points where they can connect a maximum of four loose sprinklers to the regular irrigation system.

Although irrigation is already used minimally, it is adapted to soil moisture and evaporation rate, Sluispolder is constantly looking for opportunities to reduce water consumption. The irrigation system is equipped with sector sprinklers (to only irrigate the greens/tees and not the surrounding area) and irrigation is done by night 98% of the time. Sanitary is equipped with saving buttons and sprinkler heads.

Energy

The clubhouse and restaurant / banquet room date from 1984 and after several extensions the whole building is a comprehensive series of spaces. The building is mostly made of wood and also well matched in terms of the characteristics of the region. The greenkeepers shed/workplace is centrally located on the course and dates from 2005. The buildings are in the open polder with a lot of wind. Combined with the age of the buildings this causes a high consumption of energy. There has been no energy audit.

The consumption figures for electricity are low, especially considering the size of the buildings and the intensity of use. In three years, the consumption decreased by a quarter. The gas consumption is lower than average. The fuel consumption for machinery is average.

No renewable energy is purchased and there is no own production, except the wood for the fireplace. The opportunities to generate energy on site are large (suitable roofs, lots of wind, geothermal energy). Sluispolder will examine the opportunities in the near future.

The use of transparent plates in the greenkeeper shed, separate thermostats for each room, energy saving lamps, timers and motion detectors; much has been done to save energy. Sluispolder only fertilizes areas that are in need of fertilization. This is also cut down to a minimum, so the mowing frequency decreases.
The driving range is not provided with lighting and there is no energy-guzzling patio heater.
Given the location, size and age of the buildings there is still a lot to gain in terms of reducing energy consumption. This is why the GEO-team wants to make an Energy Savings Plan to take accurate measures in the coming years.

Supply Chain

Environmental awareness with regard to purchasing, processing and waste has a high priority at Sluispolder. It works top-down; it starts with good management, and works through to greenkeeping, the restaurant, the shop and the golf school. Inflow and outflow of substances is registered properly. Verification of origin and certification is a new policy.

Origin, sustainability and certification of the customer and supply chain are important issues that will be included in a procurement protocol, which is to be made. The charting of suppliers can be a first and big step towards the networking club; which has to be founded.

Sluispolder is a big player in the market, so pressure can be exerted on suppliers in accordance to certification and durability. Because the restaurant is large-scale and has a multi-functional character, the side effects on the regional economy is large.
The plan to found a ‘green’ networking club in the region (which hosts a lot of farmers and horticulturists) will promote the change to a green economy. Goals of this networking club are to exchange experiences on green and durable management and to reduce food miles by working more regionally.
The restaurant works with many local and organic products. On the other hand, products are purchased centrally and therefore at a greater distance, which is possible because the restaurant is part of a nationwide hospitality group.
The herb and vegetable garden next to the restaurant offers additional possibilities and makes a statement about durability and biology.

The grasses (fescue, bent) used on the course are resistant to drought and wind and need only low doses of fertilizer. The grass on the greens is kept relatively high (4.5 to 5 mm) and the lawn is densely overgrown. By analyzing the soil regularly in different places, the fertilization program is balanced.
The condition of the soil (structure, minerals, organic material) determines the health of the turf. Therefore tests are done to see how grass under and above ground respond to fertilizers.
In 2016 Sluispolder began to analyze the green clippings, in order to control and check the needs of the grass. Greens and tees are fertilized with both liquid and solid (grains) fertilizer. Sluispolder brews their own compost tea, with additions of their own soil and turf.
The use of fertilization has been reduced drastically in recent years; with more specific testing and planning the aim is to reduce more .The balanced fertilization and regular scarifying and sanding has kept the turf healthy and very resistant to pests and diseases. The open location (wind has free play), good drainage and top-aeration when the conditions and weather are ideal for funguses make the greens less susceptible to funguses and other diseases.

Waste is separated and collected by certified companies and recycled. Clippings, green waste and wood reused are reused on site; as compost, to feed their own sheep herd and as additional heating. This saves transport and procurement.

Pollution Control

Sluispolder complies with environmental legislation and is completely chemical-free. No chemical plant protection and fertilization is used. Products are purely biological and organic. Therefore Sluispolder is well prepared for the impact of the Green Deal in 2017. This policy was fully launched in 2005 and is a great success. The environmental impact on the course is reduced to a minimum. With "Committed to Organic ' (the Dutch Golf Federation uses ‘committed’ in all of branches of golf; for example Committed to Seniors. Sluispolder wants to create Committed to Organic for courses that are, like Sluispolder, completely biologic and organic in their maintenance program.)With this label Sluispolder wants to convey the experience.
There is a working protocol designed to prevent soil contamination. Also in and around the buildings (maintenance areas, catering, office) minimal environmental impact is pursued.

Every two years the groundwater is analyzed.

Sanitary, kitchen and wash pad are connected to the public sewer. Oil separators catch oils and greases and are emptied regularly. The wash pad and fuel tank location have a brick paving with an impervious plate underneath.

Given the chemical-free maintenance hazardous materials are limited to fuels. These are stored in accordance with the law and are placed on approved drip trays. The diesel tank is inside the shed on an impervious plate and is inspected annually. One awaits the changing regulatory (2017) and then will take affirmative action to renew the fuel tank.

The greenkeepers shed dates from 2005, is very spacious and built on impervious concrete. Chemicals are not used. The compost tea is brewed in a large plastic in the shed, so it is on the impervious concrete floor. The diesel tanks and cans with petrol are also placed inside, within the boundaries of safety regulations. As a lubricant, Interflon is used; a biological agent made from animal fats. Major repairs of machinery and grinding cutting units is outsourced. The machines or units are then sent to a maintenance company.

Because there is no usage of chemical agents, the influence on the environment is minimal. Zeolites retain water and nutrients, so that infiltration to groundwater is limited and the nutrients are available to the turf for a longer period of time. There are no toilet facilities on the course.

Community

From the beginning Sluispolder had two guiding principles; everyone is welcome and golf must be approachable for everyone.
This alone makes Sluispolder a firm and embedded sports and leisure facility in the region, and with this mission Sluispolder attracts the right partners.
Partnerships are made with various branches of the company. The open vision and attitude and the non-chemical maintenance give the course and its facilities a special place in the region.
One of the goals is to expand the durable vision on golf around the region, in order to become a catalyst in sustainability in the region and golf nationwide.

Sluispolder contributes substantially to the employment in the region. In peak season Sluispolder has approximately fifty employees; part-time and full-time. The greenkeepers are professionals who attend courses and seminars on a regular base; especially on soil/turf biology. A sufficient number of employees have a (annually updated) first aid certificate.
To ‘de Viaan’, a school for students with special needs, training and learning facilities are offered.

Sluispolder has a strong and stable GEO team of four members, headed by the head-greenkeeper. The course commissioner of the golf club has an important position; she is the link between the course (Sluispolder) and the club (DNHGC), handles the PR and is very committed to nature. This also applies to a second club member/marshal, who is also an ornithologist. The GEO- team is completed with an external consultant with a broad and highly practical experience in the field of construction and maintenance of sports turfs and greenkeeping. This consultant supervised the switch from regular maintenance to organic non-chemical maintenance in 2005.

Despite the welcoming and open attitude, Sluispolder lacks opportunities for other forms of recreation and leisure. This has to do with the large amount of ditches/canals and off course safety.
Everone however, is welcome in the restaurant and adjoining rooms that are suitable for many types of activities. Sluispolder maintains a very good relationship with the State Forestry Commission; together they organize various educational activities. There is an annual open day, publicly accessible nature walks (4x per year) and bird watching days. In the field of natural science there is collaboration between the Working Group Committed To Birds, IVN (a regional nature development organization) and Vogelwerkgroep Alkmaar (local bird monitoring committee). For golfers there are alliances with ClubNL (a non-course golf club), NHgolft (alliance of 10 courses in the province) and SGNL (partnership throughout the Netherlands). The contact with the neighbors, mostly farmers, is particularly practical, as well as contacts with the municipality and the regional water authorities. The restaurant is inventive by organizing various culinary activities such as ‘BOERgondisch Genieten’; Boer (meaning farmer); Burgundian Enjoyment.

The province of Noord-Holland has designated the polder in which the course is located as ‘valuable geological area’. Because of 'archaeological' expectations' (stated by the municipality of Alkmaar) measures are necessary when doing ground operations deeper than 40 cm and on an area larger than 0.5 hectare. The management wants to deal with these regulations with the utmost care to preserve scenic openness and minimize excavation. Three wooden shelters are placed unobtrusively in the nature of the course and the signs are made of stainless steel. The trails consist mainly of grass, and are where necessary hardened with shells (very appropriate for the region).

The restaurant and the golfshop are under the same management and have the same owner. Therefore, they expand the GEO-conception. Communication with members and golfers is done via website, bulletin board and digital newsletters. The head-greenkeepers and the restaurant’s chef inform their guests by posting articles and bulletins on the website, weblog and FaceBook-account.
Members and other enthusiasts are stimulated to join fieldwork-days like BirdWatchingDay. Fieldwork days and workshops are usually crowded.

The website and promotional leaflet are the main means to present themselves to the outside. Around the complex are remarkable welcome signs and banners.
Additionally the positive reputation of the course and its activities is increased by the restaurant, in conjunction with the local press.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

Sustainability is in the genes of the managers of this course, from father to son. Without abusing the word sustainability they go their way. Aided by consultants and club members with professional knowledge in the field of ecological grass management. Premise is that nature itself creates balance and artificial interventions always give a natural reaction. There is a lot of courage, confidence and especially perseverance needed to keep a golf course in excellent condition using no chemicals.
Sometimes it needs different management, such as a cut of 4.5 mm on the greens and not trying to control dollar spot. The golf course managers are pioneers in this field, and they are a convincing example for all courses that still work with chemicals and eventually want to switch.
The next few years focus will be set on reducing the footprint and bringing out the unique selling points.

Certification Highlights

1
Absolute highlight is the zero-use policy on chemicals. Since 2005, artificial fertilizers and pesticides have been banned. Sluispolder thus anticipates the Green Deal (2017).

2
The restaurant is also part of the organization and is run by people with passion who work as much as possible with local, organic and seasonal. The restaurant caters for large groups and is also used for parties and other gatherings

3
The consumption data show a sharp decrease in electricity, gas and fertilizers usage over the last three years. It is clear that the path they have been following for years works positively in all divisions of the company and the course.

4
From the beginning the main principle of Sluispolder has been to make everyone feel welcome and at home. There is a strong social commitment, and it manages to organize activities and events for different, wide ranged and varied groups of people. Apart from connecting and binding, they are remarkably inventive and creative.