Wentworth Club

GEO Certified® 07/2017
Virginia Water,
England, United Kingdom
Telephone: 01344 842201
Clubhouse_club_image

Executive summary (English & local language)

The origins of Wentworth Golf Club date back to the mid 1800s when the estate was originally purchased by an exiled Spanish nobleman with the manor house at its centre called Wentworth's. The estate was eventually developed through the purchase of additional land surrounding the house and eventually ended up as for we now know as Wentworth Estate.

In 1922 builder WG Tarrant acquired the development rights of the estate and engaged by Harry Colt to develop a golf club based around Wentworth house along the lines of the development he had already undertaken.

The Harry Colt designed East course was followed by the development of the West course in 1927 and subsequent developments of the Edinburgh course in 2000 are designed by John Jacobs and Gary player. In the 1930s the land past two Wentworth estates limited them with additional development up to the start of the Second World War.

The estate is located at Virginia water to the east of Sunningdale village and totals approximately seven square kilometres with a range of substantial private dwellings golf and leisure facilities with some public access via right of ways from the common lands that border the site.

The Wentworth Club is synonymous with professional golf having been involved with numerous major tournaments including the Ryder Cup being played on the West course and resulting in many of the holes being very well known to golf is across the world, although the East and Edinburgh courses also provide an attractive backdrop and significant golf and challenges and should not be forgotten.

Nature

The Wentworth Club is primarily located in a parkland landscaped with significant areas of fast free draining sand, together with areas of a much heavier clay based soil. The parkland setting and its history have resulted in a mixture of mature woodlands including oak, Scots pine and significant numbers of self-set silver birch. The land bordering the estate provides an indication as to be natural landscape with the expansive Chobham Common National Nature Reserve and the Wentworth Nature Reserve predominantly occupied by heather, gorse and self-set silver birch. In common with many areas of the near by Virginia Water park, Wentworth is known for its rhododendron that are currently under management due to their status as an invasive species and a potential link to the decline of a number of native species of trees.

The Wentworth Club has undertaken specific consultation relating to woodland management and also wildlife management providing them with a basis to develop a management plan.

Additional consultations and discussions have also been undertaken with the Surrey Wildlife Trust in relation to areas of land adjoining the club's site and also in relation to re-establishing heathland habitats in strategic areas around the course.

The combined information now forms the basis of future plans being undertaken to reduce tree density, thin under-storey growth and physical interventions to favour the re-establishment of heather communities.

The Wentworth Club is located in a congested area of Surrey surrounded by major roads but also importantly bordering the Chobham Common National Nature Reserve and the Wentworth Nature Reserve. Its location results in a number of designations including Site of Special Scientific Interest, impact risk zone, nitrate vunerable zone, national inventory of trees, priority habitat inventory (deciduous woodland) and lapwing and tree sparrow inventory habitat.

These designations result from the history of the estate, its size and location providing both amenity used to members of the public and the club as well as important natural habitat.

A significant area of the estate provides a sandy fast draining soil similar to that found on the Chobham Common National Nature Reserve and hosting many of the key species associated with lowland heath.

The estate also includes significant areas of heavier clay soils more suited to a deciduous woodland which also includes areas of rare wet woodland hosting numerous mosses and lichens together with successional species such as alder and silver birch. All of which contributes to highly varied and biodiverse landscape.

The turfgrass species across the Wentworth courses are predominantly annual meadow grass (Poa annua) together with finer Bent grass on greens and fairways. This mixture has evolved since the club's establishment across the East and West courses and although the annual meadow grass is less hardy and drought resistant than some other species, the balance across the site represents an optimum based on the conditions and traffic.

The newer Edinburgh course has been built on an area of the estate with a higher clay content and therefore warms up at a slower rate at the beginning of the year, requiring careful management to mitigate the different disease and pest pressures. The knowledge and history built up over many years by the greens team has resulted in a detailed local knowledge of the areas of the course likely to succumb to pests, diseases and drought, allowing a lighter touch and preventative programs to be established.

The Wentworth Club has undertaken a number of projects intended to improve habitats and biodiversity across the site. The woodland management projects include the provision of standing deadwood in areas out of play, together with a log piles and brash piles to encourage insects and small mammals. The woodland management plan being implemented over the next few years will see a reduction in certain areas of under-storey, together with a thinning of some of the copses to increase the light levels reaching the ground whilst improving airflow across the course.

The nature of the countryside together with the close proximity of nature reserves allow for substantial connections across the estate providing tremendous opportunities for wildlife movement across and beyond the site.

Invasive species management has been necessary as is the case across the British countryside. Colonies of Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed have been identified in certain areas on the course and specialist contractors have been engaged to both prevent spread and eventually to eliminate these species.

The rhododendron colonies which have become such a feature of the Wentworth estate under management, but in a more sympathetic manner with close monitoring of the surrounding trees to detect any signs of cankers, lessions or decline caused by Phytophthora ramorum, which is commonly attributed to the proximity of rhododendron.

The management of the woodland habitats is designed to encourage a number of species including the red listed woodcock, the sympathetic clearing of the understorey should also provide an opportunity for a number of plant species together with half by areas for insects and their attendant predators.

During the course review there were a number of areas that have been earmarked to re-introduced heather, and the intention is to try to reduce some of the walkways and formal paths as part of this program.

Water

The water supply for the Wentworth Club is from a potable mains with use crossing over to four main areas including the clubhouse, tennis and health club, irrigation and maintenance area.

The water consumption levels at Wentworth Club reflect the size and scope of the buildings and services located on site. The clubhouse mains supply is relatively high but given the footfall from the courses as well as the many other functions, it is to be expected. The variations in consumption for the clubhouse are consistent with variations in use and based on the current infrastructure which may be due for refurbishment are not to distant future.

The tennis and health club host a range of facilities including gymnasium swimming pool and tennis courts. Consumption of water across these range of services including catering is also consistent with the footfall.

The irrigation water consumption is carefully monitored and with a substantial section of the course being built on sand based soils the consumption broadly reflects and mirrors the rainfall levels experienced during the period.

The maintenance yard has shown a reduction over the three years under review here, which primary appears to be achieved through awareness of staff involved in wash-down of plant and equipment.

Through a combination of inspection, testing and site knowledge, irrigation across the site is maintained at a minimum level with regular updates and servicing of the irrigation equipment as a matter of course. Sprinkler arcs are checked to ensure optimum coverage and minimise wastage with real time of moisture GPS measurements taken to allow adjustments to be made as required.

As part of a management program to improve efficiency, independent consultancy was arranged in 2013 with the findings and recommendations being implemented through 2013 and 14.

The clubhouse and tennis and health centre had had some works to help reduce flows on showers and taps and this program of upgrades is likely to be continued at an increasing rate over the next few years.

Energy

The size and scope of the operation and the Wentworth Club will inevitably result in relatively high energy consumption due to the hours of operation and the size of the facilities.

Wentworth predominantly uses grid electricity and mains gas for lighting, cooling and heating purposes across the estate of buildings, including the clubhouse and tennis & health club and the maintenance yard.

The grid electrical consumption declared for the year 2015 is substantial, however this does reflect the significant size of the buildings and the substantial catering and health club facilities which will result in a large cooling demand in both the main clubhouse and tennis & health club.

The gas heating system is used for a combination of water heating together with a wet central heating system through wall mounted radiators. Power generation at the site is now provided by a combined heat and power unit allowing electrical energy to be generated to help reduce the demand for grid electricity.

The club owns a range of vehicles ranging including petrol and diesel, to the latest technology hybrid mowers. Fuel consumption appears to be in line with activity on the course and the prevailing weather conditions resulting in slight fluctuations over the three years under review.

Following a review of potential alternative technologies available, the club felt that the best option for their current configuration was for an investment in combined heat and power units for both the main clubhouse and the tennis and health club. These units run on mains gas and also produce electricity for use on-site to help offset the current consumption and demand from the national grid.

Alternative renewable energy sources are constantly under review and may be included within a forthcoming clubhouse refurbishment depending on potential and efficiency.

The Wentworth Club is currently planning a major upgrade of the clubhouse and facilities and as part of this upgrade a complete review is being undertaken to identify additional areas to improve efficiency on cooling, lighting and heating. It is likely that technology upgrades will include further transition to LED lighting, air conditioning unit upgrades and PIR sensors. This will effectively be a continuation of the work already begun and with a number of operating areas changing the compact fluorescent fittings for led equivalents, will further help reduce consumption.

Heating controls will be reviewed as part of this clubhouse refurbishment to ensure that the latest technology is being incorporated with a view to reducing heating consumption through increased control.

Cooling elements across the site include air-conditioning as well as refrigeration for the catering areas and these elements are also being reviewed and replaced as part of an ongoing capital investment program.

All of these considerations will benefit from continued staff training to help raise awareness of energy consumption across the Wentworth Club and outwith. The club magazine will also help to raise member awareness on efficiency measures.

Supply Chain

It is apparent from the site-visit that the supply chain and inputs to the course of carefully considered. Having spent time with staff from both course and facilities during my visit there is clearly a desire to work locally with suppliers where possible and to reduce consumption of on course consumables.

The overarching purchasing policy is to work with local suppliers to reduce both delivery mileage and also waste packaging. With a large organisation of this type controlled purchasing has made it possible for purchase order systems to ensure control at management level as well as to concentrate purchasing power with agreed suppliers.

As with many golf clubs the majority of local suppliers are providing services and fresh produce that offer good service and flexibility of supply, ensuring that a significant proportion of the club's spend is retained and multiplied within the local community.

Turfgrass inputs are kept to a minimum through good cultural and practical management programmes, careful monitoring and an extensive historic and site-specific knowledge exhibited by staff members, many of whom have been working on the courses for years.

The figures provided for the application cover all three courses, however a disproportionate number of applications of pesticides rest with the Edinburgh course due to the heavier clay soils around in that part of the estate.

Unusually, there have been some fertiliser inputs in areas of rough, however small, in both area and quantity. On discussions with staff these applications were made to encourage density of grass to increase the difficulty in certain areas of the West course, for professional event playability.

The purchasing and facilities management at the Wentworth Club encourage both reduction in the number of deliveries and associated packaging and also have a programme of waste recycling with a dedicated area the rear of the clubhouse with bins for separation and cardboard bailing.

Pollution Control

The Wentworth Club has undertaken significant work over the years to ensure the control of run-off and potential spills from their site. The maintenance area drainage system is effectively a closed-loop pad that incorporates fertilizer and pesticides, fuel storage and dispensing and wash-down activities.

The club facility has a dedicated waste and recycling area on site, with internal storage and used cooking oils and containers ready for collection.

Water quality testing on the site is assessed visually on a daily basis with annual chemical testing.

The clubhouse is connected to mains water sewerage with the maintenance yard having its own package sewage treatment system treating water on-site and discharging to watercourse.

The Wentworth Club has a system of restricted access to hazardous materials with pesticides stored in a locked, bunded metal container and keys provided to a small number of senior green staff.

Logs are maintained of the usage and consumption of the various chemicals stored to ensure that current stock levels are known. Mixing takes place on the closed-loop impervious wash-down pad to ensure that any fugitive pesticides are contained.

Spill kits are provided in three locations with audible alarm systems on the containment storage vessels.

The emphasis at the club is on prevention, however the system operated ensures full containment of wash-down water, pesticides, fertilisers and fuel spills within the maintenance area.

The clubhouse has a dedicated recycling room with storage for used cooking oil, card compactors and bins for glass and cartons outside.

Climatic conditions are always reviewed prior to any spraying operations on the courses and the modern equipment used is designed to reduce the possible loss of accuracy through spray-drift in windy conditions.

Community

The Wentworth Club is, and has been for many years, one of the highest profile clubs in the United Kingdom. Their market is the prestige market together with golfers attracted by the allure of the history of the West course with its many challenging and iconic holes. The scholarships sponsored by club members are designed to identify young talent and provide access to the world class facilities available at the club.

The club employs approximately 160 full-time staff with approximately a further 1000 part-time staff on call for various events and specific requirements.

Staff development and training provide opportunities across a range of hospitality, maintenance and facility management roles. Staff training is provided on induction, and periodically through employment, to help encourage sustainability and ensure a safe working environment.

The management has established a sustainable working group comprising the General Manager, Course Manager and an executive team that meet periodically to discuss specific projects together with management updates.

The Wentworth Club has had a close working relationship with the estate and its legal representative the Wentworth Estate Roads Committee over the years.

Wider engagement has included birdwatching groups and the scholarship schemes for the local schools and community to allow promising talent to be nurtured at the home of the European Tour and to benefit from the extensive and top-class facilities available.

The site occupied by the club has little in the way of historic buildings or archaeological interest being located on a combination of parkland and heathland countryside. The site provides several public right of ways which are maintained by the greenkeeping team together with opportunities for recreation in and around the woodland providing public access for dog walkers ramblers and birdwatchers.

At the time of verification (May 2016) there was a dispute between the Wentworth Estate Roads Committee and the European Tour, related to the hosting of the BMW PGA Championship in 2016 and in the future, which the club was also naturally involved in. The club’s certification application was placed in ‘pending’ status while this was ongoing and further information sought. At the time this issue did not fulfill the certification standard criteria regarding legal disputes and positive, constructive engagement with the local community. However, GEO and I were notified by the courses manager and the European Tour in May 2017 that the issue had been resolved satisfactorily, subsequently receiving documentary evidence in the form of a WERC newsletter.

For further information on the decision-making around this issue and the certification ‘pending’ procedure, please contact GEO.

Another important consideration during the ‘pending’ period was the installation of sub-air technology to the greens on the West course. Although a high net consumer of energy, this system, along with the turfgrass varieties chosen for the greens' surfaces, will encourage drier conditions in the rootzone and potentially lead to lower requirements for fertilizer and pesticide applications going forward. This data should be tracked and reported at the next certification renewal (2020), while overall energy consumption is brought into focus following the clubhouse and facilities renovation.

The club has an internal magazine which provides details on course maintenance issues together with related clubhouse management and development information.

Information is also provided via website and email correspondence together with clubhouse noticeboards in the changing rooms and key public areas.

Externally the club provides a range of details via their website together with press releases managed by an external advertising agency.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

The Wentworth Club has undertaken a wide range of ecological projects and management activities to encourage sustainability, particularly in the area of nature conservation. Liaising with the Surrey Wildlife Trust and working with other environmental consultants to protect and develop the highly significant and valuable landscape shows a deep commitment to the long-term stewardship of the site. The club has achieved the requirements of the certification standard in all respects and through some of the sections has exceeded them. While resource efficiency could be improved in the future with the exploration of renewable energy options and rainwater harvesting potential, the club is certainly aware of these opportunities. While the type of club that Wentworth is means that some aspects of openness and accessibility are limited, there are still a number of ways that the club can contribute meaningfully to socially and community driven projects and partnerships and it is certainly doing this already. From my meeting at Wentworth I was left in no doubt that all the staff has a genuine interest in not simply achieving GEO certification, but exceeding the voluntary industry standards wherever possible.

Certification Highlights

Significant heathland restoration project and woodland development activities
Comprehensive habitat and wildlife survey informing key landscape management decisions
Work with Surrey Wildlife Trust to protect the bordering National Nature Reserve of Chobham Common
GPS moisture-mapping of the site to inform strict irrigation requirements
State-of-the-art Toro hardware and technology for minimal and precise irrigation
Combi heat and power unit installed to reduce reliance on national grid supply by 70%
Cardboard bailing machine generating income from recycling contractor
Wentworth Scholarship Programme part of the club’s Foundation set up in 1991 to provide opportunities for local youngsters
Quarterly Wentworth Magazine and website for regular updates on course and club activities
Frequent social events held within the club facilities
BMW PGA Championship benefitting local business with 30,000 people through the gates each day
Extensive career development and education opportunities for staff