Silloth On Solway
Executive summary (English & local language)
Silloth-on-Solway Golf Club is a long-established classic links course in northwest England, which has occupied the same site since 1892. It is ranked within the top 50 golf courses in England, and lies in a very sensitive location, within a nationally important SSSI notified for its sand dune habitat and for the rare Natterjack toads which live there. The club have established a good working relationship with Natural England, and their management of the site is exemplary. They have a long term ecological management plan for the site, involving a major programme of gorse thinning and clearance, the restoration of heather on the dune ridges, and the maintenance of good habitat for Natterjacks, and are implementing this plan to a very high standard. At the same time, the club has managed to retain the high quality of the fine grass dominated playing surfaces on the golf course, through a sustainable management programme which minimizes inputs of water, fertilisers and pesticides. This is delivered through a knowledgeable and committed greenkeeping team, and a club management and members who are fully on board with this environmentally sensitive approach, and have a good appreciation of the high quality course which results.
The club is committed to applying good environmental practice across all aspects of their operation, both on the golf course and in the clubhouse. The club also demonstrates real commitment to wider environmental good practice through implementing the recommendations of an energy audit which has led to investment in energy efficient lighting and heating systems in the clubhouse, and acquisition of three hybrid ride-on mowers. They have a strong commitment to the use of local suppliers for as many of their purchases and supplies as possible, and make good contributions to the local community through the provision of dedicated golf facilities for local youngsters, and partnership working with the local council on joint community projects. Their Strokesaver booklet includes a large and well-illustrated section on the wildlife features to be found on the golf course.
Silloth-on-Solway is a classic British links golf course, created in 1892, which is ranked in the top 50 golf courses in England, and was an R&A Regional Qualifying course between 2002-2007. It also hosted the English Amateur Championships in 2012. The golf course lies within a coastal dune system in the far northwest of England, and occupies an area of some 78 hectares. The dune system is of national importance for its’ wildlife, having been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England because of its vegetation communities, and the presence of the rare amphibian species the Natterjack toad. The club are very well aware of the importance and significance of their property, for biodiversity, and accommodate this within their golf course management operations. In doing this they have established, and maintain, very good working relationships with Natural England, as the statutory regulator for SSSIs, and with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARCT), the main national voluntary conservation body for amphibians and reptiles. The golf course property occupies the full width of the dune system, from the active zone at the back of the beach, with vegetative shingle bank communities, through mobile dunes to fixed dunes which lie in front of the farmed and developed flat land on the inland side of the system. The natural grasses in the roughs are dominated by marram and fescue, whilst the semi-roughs and fairways are fescue dominated as a consequence of decades of golf course management. Of particular importance is the fact that as the distance from the shore increases the dunes become more acidic, and dune heath dominated by heather becomes the characteristic habitat. Over time, the whole area has been colonized by gorse, which has become a major conservation problem, overwhelming the heather and grassland communities. The club is committed to reducing areas of gorse, and re-establishing heather and grassland communities, and this is a central part of their long–term management practices. They work closely with Natural England on this, and received funding from them to help do the work. The location and phasing of the work is based on the recommendations set out in the detailed Ecological Management Plan for the property, drawn up by STRI and revised every 5 years. The low-lying areas between the dune ridges are damper, as the water table rises above the level of their low points in wetter parts of the year, and it is these areas which are especially important for Natterjack toad and Great crested newt. Ground-nesting birds, especially skylarks, are common on the site and clearly are well-supplied with insect food through the presence of vegetation types which support rich invertebrate populations. Scrub habitats are dominated by gorse, which presents the greatest course management challenge for the golf club. I was interested to see that nearly half of the well-produced and attractive strokesaver booklet is taken up by information about the wildlife on the course; I have not seen it done to this extent anywhere else, and it shows how aware the Club are of the importance and value of their course for biodiversity.
Silloth-on-Solway is a very good example of a traditionally managed links golf course, with retention of the native grassland and heathland habitats on the site being a high priority for the Club. The challenge they face is to maintain the high quality playing surfaces on the golf course, whilst ensuring that the extensive areas of invasive gorse do not overwhelm the dunes grassland and heathland habitats which are the natural vegetation on the property. In my opinion they are doing this extremely well, being strongly committed to both elements of the challenge. They have a long-established relationship with STRI, who produce detailed ecological management plans for them on a 5 year basis, and which set out detailed annual plans for implementation of the management objectives. The STRI Ecologist visits every two years to review progress towards the plan. The Club has built good relationships with Natural England, who are in agreement with the operational plans set out by STRI, and is doing an excellent job in implementing the plans. Gorse clearance is enabling areas of heather to expand, and many of the fairways and dune ridges are now holding good areas of heather, which greatly adds to the framing of the holes, as well as being an ecological improvement. The extensive stands of gorse which had invaded the roughs over a long period of time had reduced the conservation status of the site, but the work underway has led to Natural England defining the condition of the site as recovering, and this will continue as the ecological management plan is implemented into the future. The other key biodiversity elements on the side are Natterjack toad and Great crested newt, and the Club is carrying out works to ensure that existing populations are safeguarded and enhanced. Natterjack habitat is being expanded through the creation of shallow scrapes in the lower-lying areas between dune ridges, and through thinning and removal of rank grass around scrapes where this was becoming an issue. The Club’s links with the local officer from ARCT is ensuring that the most appropriate locations are chosen for new scrapes, and also that the Club is provided with detailed advice on vegetation management to benefit Natterjacks. Skylark is the dominant bird species present on the site, with a strong population benefitting from the mosaics of vegetation across the dune ridges.
The club use STRI for their agronomic and ecological advice, and a key baseline document for them is an ecological appraisal carried out for them by STRI in 2002. This includes a detailed habitat map (in the form of a vegetation map) which was derived from the 1987 National Sand Dune Survey undertaken by the Nature Conservancy Council. The vegetation types are described, according to the National Vegetation Classification (NVC), and this data has formed the basis of the 5 year ecological management plans produced for the Club by STRI. This plan sets out annual prescriptions for work to be done over the winter, with the areas being highlighted on a large plan. The plan is agreed with Natural England, who contribute funding towards the work under their High Level Stewardship scheme. Some funding also comes from ARCT in respect of Natterjack toad habitat restoration and management. Natterjack numbers are monitored annually by Sam Griffin of Hesketh Ecology.
The whole golf course lies within the Silloth Dunes and Mawbray Bank Site of Special Scientific Interest, designated by Natural England in 1991. The club has a very good working relationship with Natural England, which works to their mutual advantage. The SSSI is one of only three sand dune systems in west Cumbria, and the golf course lies within the most acid part of the system, meaning that the dry heath areas of heather are especially important. Within the golf course, NVC communities SD2, SD5, SD6e, SD10c and SD10d are recorded, and mapped on the 2002 habitat map.
There is good connectivity of habitats across the course, through ensuring that habitat patches are kept as large and un-fragmented as possible, with the exception of gorse stands, which are being reduced in size. Rough and semi-rough carries have been retained in many places, both for their golfing significance and for the habitat connectivity they provide.
Two Roman towers, and a Roman fortlet, all of which are scheduled as Ancient Monuments by English Heritage, occur within the golf course. They were part of the Roman defences along the Cumbrian coast. They are buried below gorse and thick grassland within the dune system on the golf course, and nothing is visible at surface to identify their presence. However, the Golf Club is well aware of their location, and of the requirement from English Heritage that they be consulted over all physical works planned within 50m of them. The last excavations were carried out in the 1960s.
The golf course lies immediately adjacent, at its’ southern end, to part of the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The habitat management work carried out by the golf club makes a positive contribution to the visual context of the AONB, as the adjacent land is agriculturally improved rather than being semi-natural habitat.
The turfgrass species present across the course are essentially those which are native to the site and are extremely well managed, with minimal inputs. The greens occupy an area of about 1 hectare in total, and are of dew pond type construction. They are a mixture of browntop bent (70%) and annual meadow grass (30%); tees are a mix of browntop bent (50%), ryegrass (30%) and meadow grass (20%); fairways are a 50/50 mix of red fescue and meadow grass; and the semi-roughs are a mix of red fescue and sheep’s fescue. The fine grasses are retained through a programme of keeping inputs to a minimum, and the amount of fescue in the fairways and semirough has increased markedly in recent years following applications of wetting agent and over-seeding with quality fescue seed. The well-managed surfaces provide authentic links golf playing characteristics, and the club is deeply committed to retaining this. The Course Manager and his team are knowledgeable and skilled about the management requirements of these turfgrass species, and receive the full support of the club’s management team in securing this objective. STRI are the club’s agronomists, and their regular reports confirm that they are satisfied that the course is being managed in the most appropriate way.
I was impressed by the quality of the surfaces produced, and by the clear commitment of greens staff and management to retaining the authentic links character of the golf course. They have an excellent understanding of the principles and practice of sustainable golf course management. There is also an effective process of keeping club members informed about course management activities, through inclusion of information within the Club’s newsletter to members, through emails, and through use of noticeboards.
The club’s sustainable management of the golf course delivers seasonal variation in the colour and texture of the course, which mirrors the landscape context within which the property lies, and their mowing patterns reflect the subtle variations of the topography of the site. Striping of the fairways is not appropriate in such an environment, and the Club use the traditional links method of cutting one side of the fairway in one direction, and the other side in the opposite direction. Fairway edges match the contours of the hole, rather than being a fixed width. Consequently, the golf course sits easily and appropriately within the dune landscape. This naturalness is accentuated by the discreet approach that has been taken towards course furniture and signage, which has been kept to a minimum.
The roughs have never received regular mowing, with the result that they are generally in need of management to remove invasive scrub and regenerate heather. This programme is well under way, with gorse being cut and removed every winter, and heather regrowth going well. Some scarification has been used, where machine access is possible, and this is yielding good results too. Machinery is hired in to deal with the larger stands of gorse. The outcome is impressive heather areas along many of the dune ridges, delivering significant ecological and landscape benefits.
Working with ARCT, the Club are managing existing Natterjack toad habitat, and creating new scrapes, and there are clear signs that the population is stable, with some signs of growth. The mix of vegetation types in the low-lying areas between dune ridges provides good habitat connectivity and corridors allowing toads to move around the site. The Club understand their obligations in this regard, and are carrying out appropriate actions to deliver them.
Nest boxes have not been installed on the course, since there are few trees and those which exist are not native to the dune grassland habitat. I consider this to be the right decision, as retention of habitat character is more important here than attracting bird species which are inappropriate. Neither is it appropriate to plant wildflowers to attract pollinators, as this would compromise the quality of the semi-natural habitat within the SSSI; the existing vegetation is pollen-rich. Willow herb and ragwort occur as invasives across much of the golf course, and are hand-pulled on an annual basis.
Grazing of some of the areas of rough by sheep and/or cattle has been suggested by Natural England as a way of dealing more easily with scrub management. This is a sensitive issue in this part of Cumbria, which was the most seriously affected area of the country during the major foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001, with concerns from golfers that should such a situation recur, the golf course could be closed for a long period. The club are aware of the potential benefit of grazing, but historic sensitivities are such that it is unlikely to happen in the short term, and I can appreciate this.
The water used by Silloth-on-Solway Golf Club comes from two sources – potable water from the mains supply is used in the clubhouse and maintenance facility, whilst irrigation water is obtained from an on-site borehole located by the maintenance facility. The borehole was installed in 2010, and takes water from a bed of sand and gravel 25m below ground level; before 2010 irrigation water can from the mains. The abstraction license required that usage was monitored for the first 5 years, but the Club have continued to monitor even after the condition expired. The permanent irrigation system on the golf course is limited to just tees, greens and surrounds, along with a trial area of fairway irrigation on part of the 4th fairway. The trial was to test whether overseeding would work better in what was a low-lying area that gathered a lot of balls, and suffered from a high concentration of divots. The sprinklers around the greens have all been double-valved, to make for more efficient use of water, and valve in head sprinklers are being installed as the existing heads require replacement. Wetting agents are used to ensure maximum penetration of irrigation water, and any localized problems are treated with penetrants.
Soil moisture is judged by eye when holes are changed, but the Club is considering acquiring a soil moisture probe to provide greater levels of certainty.
The club’s philosophy is to maintain and enhance the fine grasses, and so inputs of water are kept at levels which encourage these species. The overseeding programme also focuses on these species. Organic matter levels are managed through aeration and sand-dressing programmes, which promote a favourable environment for deeper rooting and facilitate the capture of moisture and nutrients. Various different tines are used depending on the requirements at the time, and thatch management involves careful application of nutrients, dressing, seaweed applications and verti-cutting.
In 2016, only 1158 cubic metres of potable water were used by the club, 672 in the clubhouse and 486 in the maintenance facility. 4306 cubic metres of water abstracted under licence from the Club’s borehole were used for irrigation of the golf course. Data from the last three years shows annual variation in all of these figures, depending on circumstances at the time. 2016 was a dry year, so greater amounts of irrigation water were used than in the much drier years of 2015 (2593 cubic meters) and 2014 (3500 cubic metres). A clear falling trend over the past three years is visible in the use of mains water in the clubhouse and maintenance facility, most of that coming from the clubhouse as a result of the replacement of old machinery by new models which are much more efficient in their use of water.
Sprinkler heads are re-calibrated and checked for efficient operation every four months, to ensure that the arc and directions are correct. In addition, the system operating pressure is checked regularly, a further check on efficiency. Irrigation is applied only when needed, and is only applied to tees and greens, with approaches being watered by hand during dry spells. Sprinklers are replaced with newer models when they need replacement, and regular checks are made on spray quality and nozzle cleanliness.
Further contributions to reduction of water usage derive from the installation of infra-red detectors in the men’s toilets that monitors the number of users and flushes the urinals only when a certain number of people have been detected. The showers are fitted with push buttons to limit the amount of water being used. In addition, water efficiency is considered when new appliances are being purchased for use in the clubhouse, so that machines designed to reduce water demands are preferentially chosen.
The Club is continually looking at ways to improve their energy efficiency, and take this consideration into account when looking at all new purchases and initiatives. A comprehensive audit of energy use in the Clubhouse was carried out by an external specialist contractor in 2014, which identified a number of initiatives which could be taken to reduce energy usage and save money. Most of the recommendations have been implemented. Virtually all of the energy used in the Club (except for greenkeeping machinery fuels) comes from the national grid, in terms of mains gas and mains electricity; propane gas is used for heating the main workshop. No renewable energy sources are used, and the Club’s electricity supplier does not include any information on their bills about what proportion supplied is from renewable sources. The Club is considering the possibility of installing some solar panels in the vicinity of the clubhouse, but the aspect and form of the clubhouse roof is not itself suitable for solar panels.
The clubhouse is an old building, with much character and charm, which presents significant energy efficiency challenges. The club have dealt with this sensibly, securing professional advice and implementing most of the recommendations. In addition, they have a programme of moving to LED lights as they need replacement.
Volumes of fuel for greenkeeping machinery are not excessive, with 10398 litres of diesel, 135 litres of hydraulic oil and 960 litres of petrol being used in 2016. The diesel consumption was about 10% higher than in the previous year, but that is due to increased machinery use during the winter programme, which is machine intensive. About 332,000 kWh of natural gas were used in the clubhouse in 2016, a decrease on 2015 and a slight increase on 2014. 98,354 kWh of electricity were used in 2016, about 3% less than was used in 2015, which was itself a 2% fall from that used in 2014. This steady reduction is testimony to the efforts being made by the club to reduce their energy usage through the various initiatives identified in their report. Part of the electricity consumption relates to the fueling of seven electric golf buggies, all charged from the mains.
The possible installation of some solar panels is being considered by the Club, and would be a good move towards significantly increased use of renewable energy if implemented.
Whilst most of the greenkeeping fleet is powered by traditional fossil fuels, the club have started to invest in more environmentally friendly hybrid machinery. Three of their ride-on mowers are hybrid machines, using a diesel engine, but with electric reel motors driven by alternators. Consideration of hybrids and electric machines will continue to be a key part of the procurement process for all new machinery in the future.
The energy saving initiatives implemented so far by the Club include the installation of thermostatic controls on radiators, improvement of insulation to the clubhouse, replacement of halogen bulbs and strip lights by LED bulbs and panels, acquisition of more energy efficient appliances in the kitchen, and the use of timers on appliances, heating and lighting. Motion sensors and timers are used to control the lighting in the renovated parts of the clubhouse.
The golf course is deliberately managed with minimum inputs of water, fertilisers and pesticides, and purchasing focuses on acquiring the best products for doing the jobs needed. Most of the products are specialist ones used for golf course maintenance, and are not available locally; however, where a closer source of supply is possible this is likely to be chosen, as it will also have a beneficial impact on delivery costs.
Silloth’s philosophy is to use local suppliers as much as possible for their purchases, although this is never easy for a golf club situated in a rural area. They fully appreciate the benefits of local purchasing in respect of reducing their carbon footprint, as well as maintaining relationships with the local community. Their major purchases relate to materials for use on the golf course, and their practice is to bulk buy as far as possible, to reduce transport and packaging costs, as well as to secure better prices.
The Course Manager keeps good and comprehensive records on stock control, machinery usage and maintenance, machine parts, and chemical inputs.
There is a very strong local community ethic at the heart of the golf club, which continues to drive the use of local suppliers across the full spectrum of their business wherever possible. This is particularly true of their food and beverage supplies. However, the club does not have a formal ethical and environmental purchasing policy, which is a significant gap in the sustainability process, and this needs to be addressed over the next 3 year period.
In terms of food and beverages and catering supplies, one-third of the club’s suppliers lie within a radius of 10km, which is impressive given the location of the Club; the other two-thirds of their suppliers lie within a radius of 100km. The only area in which most of their purchases do not have a significant local element is that of equipment and items sold from the Pro Shop. This issue is common to all golf clubs.
The sustainable management principles which underlie the management of the golf course mean that acquisition and use of chemicals is kept at low levels, thereby reducing the environmental costs of producing such substances. The club are committed to a programme of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and do it well. The decision to retain the fine grass species, which are naturally more disease resistant and drought tolerant, means that inputs of nitrogen, herbicides and water are low, and this is well managed through the use of an observational monitoring programme to assess when remedial action may be necessary. Use of seaweeds and other organic based feeds stimulate soil microbial life, and aeration and sand dressings further help to optimize the growing environment. Removal of dew from greens every morning helps reduce the risk of turfgrass diseases. Greens and fairways are overseeded with fescues and bents, which is reducing the chemical inputs needed. Rescue is being used on tees and the surrounds of greens to eradicate coarse grasses and facilitate a more sustainable management regime. Good cultural practice, in the form of regular and varied aeration, top dressing, and the use of organic soil amendments, is the standard approach used, along with wetting agents to ensure maximum uptake of applications. A variety of fungicides are used, largely to deal with recurring problems from fusarium and anthracnose. 17.8 kg of active ingredient were used in 2016, but already the Club are taking steps to reduce their use of these products, through moving to a preventative programme in 2017, and use of new products which attack the dormant mycelia in the leaves of grasses, thus dealing more effectively with the fungal problem and reducing the need for future applications.
Fertiliser use in 2016 was low, reflecting the commitment to sustainable turfgrass management. Porthcawl organic-based feeds are the main applications during the year, with sulphate of ammonia and iron used as a late winter application. Detailed data are recorded, and show gradual reduction in applications since 2014.
Pesticide use is kept as low as possible, and conscious decisions are made to minimize it. In 2016, 26.7 of active ingredient was used, and detailed records of applications are kept. In seeking to minimize inputs, the least toxic and persistent products are selected where possible; products are chosen which are specific to the pests concerned; spot treatment rather than wide area spraying is preferred; sprayers are calibrated and tested before each use; shrouded sprayers and anti-drip nozzles are used where possible (the ground topography limits the use of shrouds in some areas); and non-chemical weed control is carried out when appropriate.
Clippings are removed from greens, tees, aprons, approaches and the roughs, and temporarily stored in pick-up areas around the course before being moved to a central composting area. The compost is then used for a variety of purposes on the golf course.
Waste separation from the maintenance facility is split into waste streams and removed by specialist contractors for recycling or disposal, as appropriate. Waste separation into recyclable and disposal streams is also implemented at the clubhouse, with separate storage and uplift for paper, glass and metal. Kitchen oil is also recycled, being collected by the company who sells it to the club.
Liquid fertilisers are bought in bulk and delivered by tanker, then pumped across into the permanent storage tanks in the greenkeeping complex. This minimizes waste in terms of avoiding the need for containers that have to be safely disposed of, and also reduces costs of the fertilisers themselves.
The club is committed to carrying out all its operations and activities in ways which reduce the risks of pollution as far as possible, and minimizes its impact on the local environment. This is demonstrated by their minimizing the use of fertilisers and pesticides, and using cultural management practices to encourage the finer grasses. They have good risk assessments and health and safety policies and procedures which are implemented well in most areas as far as I can judge, although there are a small number of matters which need to be addressed.
Appropriate procedures for storing, handling and disposing of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals are in place and adhered to. The chemical safe is secure and internally bunded, and indeed the whole of the chemical store is bunded. All fuels are stored within one of the buildings at the greenkeeping complex, and the floor slopes away from the door to ensure any leakage would be contained. The diesel storage tank is a single skinned container within this building, and I would recommend it is replaced by a double-skinned storage tank, since any leakage from the existing tank would be difficult to clear up and would have impacts on materials and machinery stored within that building. Some bunding work to retain potential leakage from large containers of Porthcawl and other fluids is also advisable in the greenkeeping shed.
There is a large wash-down pad, for cleaning machines, which from which water (once filtered) is pumped to a reed bed system where it is purified. There is no outflow from the reed bed. A second reed bed, fed with water pumped from the first one, is planned for installation in 2018, and is intended to polish water from the original reed bed. Fertilisers are mixed on the washdown pad to protect against spillage. The workshop floor is concrete, with floor paint being used on the main work area.
There are no surface water inflows or outflows from the site, and the only on-site water bodies are small ponds (mostly temporary) which occur in the low areas between dune ridges where the ground surface lies close to, or below, the water table. A small number of temporary ponds have been deliberately created to support the populations of Natterjack toad and Great crested newt.
The Club’s borehole, which supplies all their irrigation water, was installed in 2010 and is located in the greenkeeping complex. It draws water from an aquifer about 25m below the site, and its quality was monitored during the first year of operation. The Club are about to re-start a monitoring programme to ensure that water quality from the borehole remains within acceptable levels.
All waste water deriving from the clubhouse goes into the mains drainage system for the town of Silloth, whilst that from the maintenance facility and washdown pad goes into the on-site reed bed. Discharge consents are not required.
All hazardous materials are stored safely, both in the clubhouse and the maintenance facility, and there are safe working procedures for mixing, fueling and using them. All equipment and hazardous products are stored on a covered, sealed and impervious area, and all maintenance is carried out on the same area.
Mixing of pesticides and fertilisers takes place on the washdown pad at the maintenance facility, and all fuel tanks are above ground and bunded, although the diesel storage tank is just a single skin and should be replaced by a double-skinned tank as soon as possible.
Applications to the turf areas are both timed and undertaken in ways that minimize the potential risk of leaching or run-off. This includes both calibration of equipment and application during appropriate weather conditions. No linear drainage features occur anywhere near mown or managed grassland surfaces, and the ponds are all well away from the main playing areas. As a result, there is no danger of pollution of water bodies from use of fertilisers or pesticides. There is currently no emergency spillage plan in place at the club, and this should be remedied as soon as possible; the Health & Safety Advisor should be able to assist.
The club is located within the town of Silloth and has an excellent relationship with its immediate neighbours and the local community. It is within easy walking distance of the town centre, thus enhancing the link to the community. The club is important to the local economy, attracting around 5000 visitors per year, many of whom use the local hotels, guest houses, caravan sites, bars and shops. It is also an important recreational area for local people, with several public footpaths running across the site.
There are strong links between the club and the local town council, both organisations working together to draw up and promote the towns entry to the Britain in Bloom competition for 2016, in which they achieved a silver award. The club itself won the small business section of the Cumbria in Bloom awards in 2016.
The club has 12 full time members of staff and 6 part-timers, and is committed to their continuing professional development. Formal occupational training, in activities such as spraying, is provided through professional bodies, and records are kept in the office in the form of a training log. Greens staff are encouraged to develop their breadth of knowledge in various aspects of their job, through formal training, attendance at events such as BTME at Harrogate, and on the job learning.
All staff are made aware of the importance of using water efficiently, both in the clubhouse and on the golf course, and two members of staff are qualified first aiders, including in use of the defibrillator. The Secretary is NEBOSH qualified in respect of health and safety, and there is also a contract with an external provider to provide ongoing detailed advice and support. All accidents are recorded in the Accidents Book. All staff are also informally educated on waste minimization and separation, especially the greens staff, as well as on energy saving (both in the clubhouse and on the golf course).
As yet there is no formal Sustainability Working Group, although there are informal meetings between the Secretary, the Course Manager, the Chair of Greens and members of other club committees on these matters. The club are aware that this needs to be formalized, and have undertaken to address this in the near future.
The club works closely with the local authority, and other community organisations, recognizing its’ important role in the life of the community. The Britain in Bloom awards in 2016 are a good example. In addition, they always seek to use local tradesmen, products and services whenever possible, including providing recommendations on local hotels, bars and restaurants to visiting golfers. The local media are very supportive, and local businesses are encouraged to use the club’s facilities for events and celebrations.
Encouraging youngsters into golf is very important to the club, and they have put in place initiatives to attract local groups of young people to the club, such as golf coaching for scout and beaver groups, free trial junior membership, and coaching schemes in local schools and colleges. Access to the course for environmental studies is made available to organized groups, such as schools or wildlife groups.
There are many public footpaths across the site, including a nature trail, and the club maintain these to a good level. The paths have, where possible, been directed so as to avoid playing areas, for safety reasons. There is good partnership working with statutory agencies (such as Natural England) and voluntary bodies such as the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. There are no traditional agricultural activities undertaken on site at present, although the possibility of re-introducing grazing to the golf course is being considered; there are, however, some practical and historic issues which make this challenging and the club is approaching the issue with appropriate caution. The three Roman structures on the course, all protected as Scheduled Ancient Monuments, are well known to green staff, who do not carry out works within 50 metres of them without first having received consent from English Heritage.
The club produce two newsletter a year for members, each of which contains information relating to the golf course, and the club also feed appropriate material to a monthly free magazine produced in the town. Members evenings and course walks have been tried in the past, but have been poorly attended. Information about planned works on the course are displayed on noticeboards within the clubhouse. have a dedicated noticeboard on which environmental information about the course is displayed, showing plants and animals which may be seen on the course. It is also used to advise members of course management works which are planned or on-going.
The club’s Strokesaver contains detailed information on the ecology and wildlife of the golf course, and is the best example I have seen of such a document. Between 500 – 600 are sold every year. The Solway AONB produces a free leaflet on the nature trail which crosses the golf course. Achievement of GEO Certification would also offer a significant opportunity to promote the good environmental practice and credentials of the club to local people through local media outlets – press, TV and radio – as well as through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- External Surveys and Reports
- Register of Accidents
Silloth-on-Solway Golf Club is a well-run facility which manages a high quality links course which is highly regarded for the quality of its playing surfaces. The management of the golf course is exemplary – the club appreciates its bent/fescue swards, which are managed to keep them lean and fast. Chemical inputs are low, water is used sparingly, and the roughs are well-managed to blend in with the nationally important dune habitats within which the course lies. The club has established, and maintains, excellent relationships with statutory regulators (Natural England) and voluntary organisations (Amphibian and Reptile Trust) with an interest in the biodiversity of the golf course. The greens team is knowledgeable and skilled in managing these environmental areas, and dedicated to maintaining them alongside the high quality playing surfaces which the club requires.
The maintenance facilities are clean and well-organised, with good attention being given to safe management of potentially hazardous substances. Recycling of spent course materials to create valuable compost for use on the course is impressive, and the washpad and reed bed ensures that potential groundwater pollution is avoided.
A number of energy efficiency initiatives have been taken in the clubhouse, and the club is aware that they would benefit from the extension of these as the clubhouse is upgraded.
A number of policies need to be formalized and approved by the club’s management, to ensure that good sustainability practice becomes the accepted norm.
The club has been managing sustainably for many years, and continues to do so at a high standard. I recommend strongly that they receive GEO Certified status.
Silloth-on-Solway Golf Club manages its’ golf course to extremely high standards, maintaining high quality fine grass swards extremely well. The club is an exemplar of how excellent playing surfaces can be produced and maintained using traditional low input methods. Their long-term commitment to management of the nationally important sand dune system SSSI on which the course sits is very impressive, and the work they do to achieve this is of the highest order. Their Strokesaver, which contains 16 pages of comprehensive and well-illustrated information on the importance of the wildlife on the golf course, is an excellent example of how to promote the environmental work done by the golf industry to the golfer.