Golfclub De Dommel

GEO Certified® 11/2016
St. Michielsgestel,
Netherlands
Telephone: 073 551 9168
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Executive summary (English & local language)

During my visit golfclub de Dommel, represented by the GEO-team, clearly demonstrated that sustainable management is one of the key issues of their policy, and that the highly competent GEO-team covered all the six GEO-themes successfully. All information with respect to course maintenance, policy statements, new developments, (GEO) goals to be achieved the next years etc. are perfectly well documented in an easily accessible software planning and reporting tool. The GEO-team informed me on all their intentions the next coming years, showing that golf club de Dommel is an open minded club ready to tackle future expected environmental legislative changes. Therefore I highly recommend this club to be awarded with the GEO-certificate.

Nature

Golf Club de Dommel opened its doors in 1929. The 9 hole course was designed by Harry Colt, and over the years slight changes were made. Now, in 2016 de Dommel consists out of 18 holes that perfectly blend into the surrounding woodland. Over the last decades, nature management at de Dommel was geared towards maintenance and further improvement of woodland. This has resulted in a fine mix of tree species (even though some of them are non-native). Today more and more attention is given to diversify the structure of the woodlands, i.e. a good mix of young and old specimens. All activities with respect to nature/woodland management are perfectly well documented. To further comply with the Dutch Flora and Fauna act, the club will start with regular surveys of herbaceous plants and further monitor birds in and around the course. Also more attention will be paid to the development of the understory. Originally the landscape consisted out of sand dunes in combination with e.g. heather vegetation. The club now aims to restore heather vegetation there where appropriate. To optimize maintenance of greens, fairways and tees the club consults specialists at a regular time interval. It is their intention the minimize the share of annual blue grass on the greens.

Water

During the growing season the club uses groundwater for irrigating their greens/tees/fairways (2-3 times a week) and semi-rough (once a week). The last 3 years annual irrigation rate varied between 21000 and 9000 cubic meters which is highly acceptable given the total surface area of the playing areas. To further reduce the presence of annual blue grass the irrigation water is slightly acidified to reduce the relatively high pH of the groundwater. The pumped-up groundwater also contains relatively high amounts of nitrate. It is advised to analyse nitrate concentrations at least three times during the growing season. This will allow them to take the “extra N-gift” into account in their fertilization scheme. The club clearly demonstrated that irrigation efficiency is part of their sustainability actions. The club does not have a priority for reducing consumption of "drinking water" as their use is relatively low and priority is given to more high impact measures (see energy section).

Energy

The old and charming clubhouse dates back to thirties of the last century and as could be expected insulation is rather poor. In 2015 an energy-audit was performed for the clubhouse, taking roof- and cavity wall insulation as well as energy efficient lightning into account, including investment costs and pay-back time. The club now prioritizes all the possibilities stated in their Energy Performance Advice. During our discussion the GEO-committee indicated that it is the club’s intention to realize approx. 75% of all the energy saving measures listed in the EPA in the next 5 years.

Supply Chain

The club clearly promotes the use of locally purchased products, further the restaurant uses many products that are certified (e.g. UTZ certified products from “production to shelve”). All waste is separated according to law, and to further minimize waste the club stimulates greenkeepers and management to use refill and bulk packaging as much as possible. Fertilizer use at de Dommel is quite moderate, still the club is keen on using less as long as the playing quality can be guaranteed. This also holds for the use of chemicals. The greenkeeping staff only uses legislated chemicals when necessary. During my visit it became clear that the head greenkeeper is in close contact with the GEO-team and that it is the wish of both to finally abandon chemicals and so to comply with the foreseen Green Deal (no chemicals to be used on sports fields in The Netherlands by 2020). The head greenkeeper stated that this will be quite “a hell of a job”, and that they will experiment with alternative management tools the coming years.

Pollution Control

All chemicals are stored according to legislation, and machinery is cleaned on impervious floors. All waste water from the greenkeepers location passes through an oil/grease separator before it is discharged to the main sewer. Near surface waters, a five meter non-spraying zone is being applied to avoid possible contamination as much as possible. During our meeting we also discussed the necessity of analyzing chemical water quality of their surface water. It was agreed upon that this would further demonstrate their sustainable management of the course.

Community

Information with respect to GEO- and course management issues is regularly communicated via website and their club journal “de Ekster”. The now almost 90 year old golf course is situated on an old estate and therefore is publically accessible via footpads such that visitors can hike savely around/on the course. The club was and is in close contact with local authorities and nature organizations with respect to renovation and extension of the course. Only recently the 12 holes course was upgraded to a 18 hole course. Before the construction work started external and independent experts analyzed the ecological value of the area around and of the foreseen new golfing area. Based on the outcome of the report and on discussions with nature organizations several areas are now designated as “eco-zones” where golfers are not allowed to enter and search for their balls. The club organizes bi-annual meeting for their neighbours to keep them informed on the club’s policies.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

Golf club de Dommel demonstrated knowledge on all themes within the GEO program, and have taken already actions to further improve their sustainability management. More importantly, during my visit, the highly competent GEO-team indicated that this recognition is just a start, and that the whole GEO-program should envisaged as a "living document" allowing clubs to further develop along the sustainability lines of GEO. I, Adrie van der Werf, highly recommend golf club de Dommel to be certified with the GEO-label

Certification Highlights

Woodland management - structural and species diversity
2015 energy audit leading to actions to reduce consumption
Facility wide purchasing policy prioritising certified or local products
Regular community meetings to keep informed on the club's policies