Executive summary (English & local language)
On July 14th I visited the golf course of Einhovensche Golf. This golf course in Noord-Brabant started the GEO certification project in 2015. After receiving an explanation on the proces and the different goals that the golf club has, I visited the golf course with the head greenkeeper. I was shown several of the highlights of the local ecology and landscape, and also the maintenance facility. Through this course visit I gained a good image of the current state and the ambitions on sustainable golf course management that the Einhovensche has.
Of the Eindhovensche Golf, the following people were present during the audit: Pieter Rahussen (member of management), Han de Wit en Olivier Ceulemans (course committee), Ruud Moonen (head greenkeeper), Annette de Vries (committee member), Margot Hoppenbrouwers (project leader) Leon van Nierop (consultant on ecology and landscape).
In this report I present my discoveries and continual improvement points for each of the GEO themes. These improvement points have been partially presented by the Eindhovensche Golf.
Op 14 juni 2017 bracht ik een bezoek aan de Eindhovensche Golf. Deze Noord-Brabantse golfclub is in 2015 gestart met het GEO certificeringstraject. Na een toelichting te hebben gekregen op het proces en de diverse doelstellingen heb ik samen met o.a. de hoofdgreenkeeper een ronde gemaakt over de golfbaan. Hierbij zijn diverse landschappelijke en ecologische hoogtepunten getoond, alsook de werkplaats van de greenkeeping. Door dit bezoek heb ik een goed beeld gekregen van de huidige stand van zaken en ambities van de Eindhovensche Golf ten aanzien van duurzaam golfbaanbeheer.
Aanwezig namens de Eindhovensche Golf: Pieter Rahussen (bestuurslid), Han de Wit en Olivier Ceulemans (baancommissie), Ruud Moonen (hoofdgreenkeeper), Annette de Vries (commissielid), Margot Hoppenbrouwers (projectleider) Leon van Nierop (adviseur ecologie en landschap).
In deze rapportage geef ik per thema aan welke constateringen ik heb gedaan en welke verbeterpunten er zijn. Deze verbeterpunten zijn deels aangereikt door de Eindhovensche Golf.
The Eindhovensche Golf is situated north of Valkenswaard in the province of Noord-Brabant. The golf course is constructed on 141 hectares and is part of an estate with a total area of 380 hectares. The estate is called ‘Gagelhof’ and was owned by the company of Philips, but was changed over recently to entrepreneur Wim van der Leegte (VDL). The initial idea of creating the golf course was made by the Philips family, who wanted to develop the entire estate for both nature and golf.
The Eindhovensche was designed by Harry Colt in cooperation with Copijn, a landscape architect, in 1928. The golf course is a woodland course with heathlands and marshes in the form of natural ponds. Characteristics are the oligotrophic sandy soil and the altitude differences. In the lower parts of the golf course, natural ponds can be found, of which some are overgrown. The largest ponds are the ‘Galgenven’ near the club house and the ‘Langven’. The Langven is situated on the southern part of the golf course.
A new management vision has been made for the woodlands at the start of 2016. This management vision was written down by Bureau Nierop with the supervision of the Eindhovensche Golf. Bureau van Nierop also takes care of the management of other areas at the Gagelhof estate.
Most of the woodlands consist of Scots pine and is developing towards a stage with Northern oak (Quercus rubra). The long term goal is to gain a more natural vegetation: woodlands with oak and birch. The monumental trees, that were planted by the Philips family, need to be preserved.
The first steps in realising the vision have been taken. Plots of some woodlands have been thinned out and new trees have been planted.
A large area of the golf course is designated as a part of the national ecological network. The golf course is also situated to a Natura-2000 area (Leenderbos, Groote Heide & De Plateaux.) on the east side. This fact has been brought up within the management vision and the GEO registration form. As a motivation, during the audit the club stated that changes in the boundary changes of the protected areas are still premature. Nevertheless, this fact should be recorded, also because of the potential effect on the Nature-2000 area.
The club has started to add a chapter on Natura 2000 in the next management plan. The situation of the golf course next to the Natura 2000 area has no direct consequences on the maintenance, since this is already focused on increasing the natural values and reducing any negative effect. Should any future course development take place, this will of course be assessed for any consequences on the conservation objectives.
The greenkeeping is skilfully controlling the turf grasses, by using drought- and pest tolerant species. Bent grass is dominant and is combined with red fescue. The greens seem to have no meadow grasses. This is a notable performance when taken the age of the course and the amount of shade in consideration. The process to have these grasses on the greens is now implemented to the fairways as well. This way the susceptibility for drought and pests is minimised.
Revitalising the woodlands is the main activity for the following years. The golf club also wishes to increase the amount of standing dead trees to provide nesting and foraging locations. Heath is encouraged in the boundaries of the carry’s at side parts of the holes, and in the transition areas from turf grass to woodland. At several small locations, heath is already present and developing. Suitable locations for additional heath are the nutrient poor soils and in more open woodland edges. At the moment the club is looking for more promising locations to create heath by scarring the surface and use soil strips and seeds.
Each year, a new annual plan is made by comparing it to the management vision and the integral management of the Gagelhof estate. The natural elements are reviewed and the effect that those elements have on the holes is taken in to consideration (like the amount of shade and moisture). By combining the different disciplines, the golf club strives towards optimising the quality of play and nature. The club wishes to utilize subsidies (PAS) in order to restore several marshes.
In preparation of forestry activities, a quick scan for present flora and fauna is conducted. However, for the maintenance on rough grasses and banks, the club has no protocol. Since the natural values on the golf course, this situation is not preferable. The Eindhovensche is aware of this fact and has stated that for any forestry maintenance they are using a working protocol specified for forestry. They club will work towards a new working protocol for the other maintenance activities in order to work according to the law on nature protection.
For irrigating the golf course, ground water is used as a main source. For the other facilities (club house, living quarters of the manager, maintenance facilities and indoor practice facilities) tap water is used.
The irrigation water for the golf course comes from the ‘Galgenven’, a marsh water. This water consists of rain water and ground water. Green, tees and fairways are irrigated by an automated irrigation system. On the par- 3 holes, only the tees and greens are irrigated.
The amount of tap water that is used is large in comparison to other golf courses. One of the reasons the club has given for this, are the outdated installations in the club house.
The amount of water used in irrigation is, compared to previous years, stabilized. In the years before 2014, the water use numbers often came close to 40000-50000 m3. At the moment these numbers vary between 22000 and 32000 m3. This reduction of water use comes from different sources. The new irrigation on the fairways sprays water from two rows ‘inwards’ to the fairways, the selected grass species on the fairways is more drought resistant, using compost and wetting agents to improve the capacity of the soil to hold moisture better, better understanding for coloration of grasses during the summer and measuring soil moisture levels. The greens are provided with back-to-back sprinklers. This makes it possible to irrigate the greens, foregreens and surroundings independently.
One of the greenkeepers is responsible for the irrigation. This way, the head greenkeeper can focus on other tasks, while the knowledge within the greenkeeper team is enriched with the theme of irrigation.
The club has a plan for renovating the club house. This building is around 80 years old and a part of the installations has become outdated. After a multi-annual plan was made in 2015, a renovation plan was introduced. This plan has to be approved for by the club members, but includes a variety of actions that will modernise the building and save on the use of tap water as well.
The facilities uses electricity, the sources used are renewable electricity and natural gas. Despite having already undertaken several actions to save energy, the Eindhovensche Golf has the ambition to further reduce energy usage by modernising the club house. The current usage numbers of natural gas are relatively high.
Usage numbers are recorded. The use of electricity is relatively stable over the past three years. (approx. 180000 kWh/per year). This number is similar to other golf courses, but can be reduced. Natural gas is used for cooking and heating the club house. The machines on the golf course use diesel, hydraulic oil and petrol. The use of diesel can be reduced by using alternative and energy saving fuel engines.
The electricity that is used comes from renewable sources (green energy). The possibilities to generate on site energy by solar panels will be researched.
During the past years, parts of the lights have been replaced by LED lights. A small part of the machines is equipped with an electric motor. At the moment, this is only the case for the manual tools, but the golf club will look into the larger machines as well when techniques continue to develop.
Around 75 suppliers are involved in the supply chain of the Eindhovensche Golf. The restaurant is run by a contractor, with whom is openly discussed in which ways sustainability can be implemented, by using local suppliers and products.
The head greenkeeper greatly values high quality products and consistent use of these products as a means to realise this quality.
The products are bought in bulk packaging as much as possible, ensuring a minimum of traffic to and from the golf course. This also ensures there is always plenty of product present when the greenkeeping should need it.
The Eindhovensche Golf has the ambition to start working with local suppliers and products. Half of the regular suppliers are situated within a radius of 10 km around the golf course.
The amounts of fertilizers and plant protection products have been shown and give insight in the determination to reduce further use of these products. The tees are the only exception here. The head greenkeeper has a specified program for the use of fertilizers, wetting agents and other products. The grass composition and quality of the greens prove the professionalism of the team.
Grass clippings from the greens is spread evenly in the woodlands. This is not a situation that should be continued, as it causes disturbance in the soil quality.
During my audit visit at the Eindhovensche Golf, I noticed no infringements of any environmental legislation.
According to the team, the accommodations meet all mandatory rules.
Each year, the quality of the water present is conducted. These surveys show no pollutions.
The accommodation is connected to the main sewer system. The different oil and lubricant separators are emptied and cleaned on a regular basis. The washing pad is constructed in a way that effluent discharges to the drain.
The use of hazardous materials is prevented as much as possible. When these substances need to be used (like diesel, oil and the like) the guidelines of the law on environmental care are followed.
Personnel knows of the pollution prevention guidelines and the disaster plan for the daily activities in and around the club house.
Personnel that is involved with course maintenance, works with the guidelines of the disaster plan. In this plan subjects like preventing soil pollution and water pollution are included.
The Eindhovensche Golf has around 950 members. A lot of attention goes to the top of golf, but recreational golfers are also very welcome. The Eindhovensche has been the host for the Dutch Open several times. With its modern and spacious practice facilities, the golf course is a training location for many top golfers.
The club is aware of the cultural heritage that is maintained, both the golf course as the history of the club itself. These are treasured visibly. At the same time, the club invests in maintenance, management and modernisation to keep the course and club in shape for the next generations.
The daily chores on the golf club are execute by 12 full time and 8 part time employees. The club has an active policy in favour of the employees. Aside form the regular meetings and performance reviews, there are several training schedules specified on the wishes and ambitions of the personnel. Health and safety legislation, in house safety and risk analysis are methodically implemented and are part of the regular training schedules.
The sustainability working group (GEO-committee) consists of 7 committee members. Part of this group is a delegation of the course committee, club house committee, management and greenkeeping. This group has been working towards the GEO certification.
The golf course and Gagelhof estate can be viewed as cultural heritage but have no formal heritage or protected status. The same goes for the club house. Despite this, there is a lot of attention for the interior and design of the golf course which was designed by Colt and Copijn. Special attention goes to the trees that have been planted by the Philips family.
Club members are informed about developments and plans through the website and club magazine. The GEO certification process was also communicated this way. The same will go for the moment that the certificate is awarded.
External communication is focused on the managers of surrounding areas. There is a close connection with VDL as landowner. This is important, because of the interaction between the 140 hectares of golf course and the estate as a whole.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Register of Accidents
Following the on-site audit my advice is to award the Eindhovensche Golf with the GEO certificate for sustainable golf course management. The club has a clear plan and is well structured to continue working on their identified sustainability actions and improving in areas that are appropriate to the type of club and its potential.
- Enthusiastic sustainability working group of seven members ensure the implementation of sustainability
- The golf course is spacious and shows a perfect combination of natural and cultural heritage and golf
- The golf club has clear ambitions to further reduce the use of tap water and energy and wish to combine this with renovating the club house.