Golfclub Erve Braakman

GEO Certified® 02/2016
Hoge Hexel,
Netherlands
Telephone: (0546) 69 72 65
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Executive summary (English & local language)

The Erve Braakman family business constructed this par-3 course on a mere 5 ha of their own land. The golf course is situated east of the Hoge Hexel village in the Twente region, embedded in a predominantly agrarian landscape. The golf course is a scenic course that hardly stands out in the surroundings due to its modest design. There are no natural reserves nearby.

The club and the course are very accessible. The number of members has been steadily growing since the club opened in 2005 and is now about 500 people. This strong growth is a result of the formulas used to appeal to target groups, the favourable rates, and the regional follow-up opportunities for novice players who qualify for their national golf license here.

Erve Braakman is one of the 8 golf courses maintained by Vos Ruinerwold Golf B.V., a company that stimulates GEO certification on all its courses to prepare for the future. Other core reasons to participate in GEO are an assumption of responsibility and making a contribution to general awareness. In its GEO project, Erve Braakman is supported by consultants from this company, as well as by management and environmental experts, and a biologist.



Familiebedrijf Erve Braakman heeft deze par-3 baan op slechts 5 hectare eigen grond gerealiseerd. De golfbaan ligt ten oosten van Hoge Hexel (Twente) in een overwegend agrarisch landschap. De golfbaan is een landschappelijke baan die nauwelijks opvalt door het ingetogen ontwerp dat past in de omgeving. Er zijn geen beschermde natuurgebieden in de buurt.

De golfclub en baan zijn laagdrempelig. Het aantal leden groeit sinds de opening in 2005 gestaag en bedraagt momenteel ruim 500. Die sterke groei heeft te maken met de doelgroepen die men door de gehanteerde formule aanspreekt, de gunstige tarieven en de vervolgmogelijkheden in de regio voor beginnende spelers die hier hun GBV halen.

Erve Braakman is een van de 8 golfbanen die in het beheer ondersteund worden door Vos Ruinerwold Golf B.V. Dit bedrijf stimuleert GEO-certificering van al haar banen om voorbereid te zijn op de toekomst. Het nemen van verantwoordelijkheid en het bijdragen aan bewustwording zijn andere belangrijke motieven om aan GEO deel te nemen. Naast adviseurs van dit bedrijf wordt Erve Braakman in het GEO-traject ondersteund door beheer- en milieukundigen en een bioloog.

Nature

The golf course lies on fluvio-glacial deposits on the east side of a small push moraine dating back to the Pleistocene. The soil consists of wet mollisol, made eutrophic by centuries of fertilizing and organic components that retain moisture. In the past few decades, the excessive fertilization in the maize cultivation has contributed significantly to this. The course was constructed using soil from the immediate vicinity, meaning that there was no need for moving earth in or out. Only the greens have been created on 20 cm of imported sand, mixed with heather compost.
In the past 5 years, many maize fields in the area have been converted back to meadows, which has greatly contributed to the general nature and landscape values. The course fits seamlessly into the surroundings of the (relatively excessively managed) landscape.
Ten years ago, the course terrain was still being used as a football field and a fishing pond. The pond and some of the elder oak trees have been incorporated in the course design. The pines that were originally planted to shield against the wind have now been replaced with endemic deciduous trees. Despite the relatively small size of the course, its natural values are very much worthwhile. The area offers habitats to all kinds of species, in particular amphibians, shore birds, water birds, farmyard birds, and foraging farmland birds.

In 2015, a biologist made an inventory of all the species groups. This can be considered a baseline measurement. The owners and several of the members are committed naturalists and they will perform and assist in the observations in the future.

The pond is a prominent presence on the course. Together with the surrounding deciduous woods, this creates a core area for flora and fauna, comprising a quarter of the total terrain. The planting, predominantly young, is endemic (in particular the birch and the black alder). Kingfishers and sand martins build their nests in the crumbling shores. Sparrows and barn swallows live around the buildings and in the thick hedges. Farmland birds breeding in the area come here to forage for good. In and around the pond, two small pools and the water ditches, we find four species of amphibians. The pools have been constructed on reservoir liner (due to the low summer water levels, natural pools would dry out, which would be disastrous for the reproduction results). Additional nesting accommodations are provided by nesting boxes. There is virtually no room for an extensively managed rough.

The greens have been constructed on sand soil, which offers the advantage of planting grass species that require less fertilizer and are better equipped to withstand some drought (Festuca rubra and Agrostis tenuis). On the fairways, installed on highly eutrophic and moist mollisol ground where the cultivation of maize required decades of over-fertilization, the club had no choice but to use Lolium perenne. The turf grass composition on the greens and fairways is rather ideal for golfing purposes. The tees have been fitted with a mat.

The club does not need a management plan because of the limited size of the terrain. The action plan included in the GEO report offers plenty of goals and steps for the coming three years (2016-2019).
Whenever new trees were planted, the club carefully considered the unity of the landscape, opting for species endemic to the area. The old trees on the terrain are properly taken care of.
Fallen trees that do not disturb the game are left where they are. Shore vegetation and the undergrowth in the wooded areas are mowed in phases. Plans are implemented to work toward a balanced fish stock in the pond.

Water

There is plenty of surface water in the ponds and the bordering water ditches. The water levels, monitored and managed by the regional water authorities, are attuned to agricultural use and vary strongly. The winter levels are about 1 m higher than summer levels, meaning that a part of the pond dries out in rainless summers. There is no option to manage the water levels internally. The area mainly drains in the direction of the Stouwe waterway through the open drainage. Artificial drainage is only required here and there.

The public water consumption is very low (similar to two average households). Public water is used for drinking and to hose down machines. Groundwater is less suitable for cleaning machines due to the extremely high iron levels. The total volume of pumped-up groundwater is estimated to be 500-1000 m3.

Sprinkling uses groundwater pumped up from a depth of 64 m. The club has a permit for this. The water quality is good, although the iron levels are very high. Only the greens are sprinkled, using sector sprinklers at night or in the early mornings, with sporadic manual supplementary sprinkling. As the peat soil naturally retains a lot of water, summer sprinkling is quite limited. Wetting agents are used on the greens for remedial purposes. The need for watering has decreased in the last few years because the roots of the grass have dug deeper; a positive development.

The toilets and the (rarely-used) showers are fitted with half-flush buttons and water-efficient shower heads. Rain from the (semi-)paved parking lot is drained through a ditch.

Energy

Erve Braakman wishes to continue to decrease consumption of (fossil) energy. There are several areas where this goal can be attained: using energy-efficient equipment and machines, switching energy suppliers, generating energy on-site, and awareness. No energy audit has been performed.

Electricity and natural gas consumptions in the pavilion and the maintenance facility are comparable to an average household in a detached house (2500 kWh). Consumption of diesel and gasoline for the mowing machines is also low in absolute figures (although consumption is relatively high per hectare).

Electricity and natural gas consumptions in the pavilion and the maintenance facility are comparable to an average household in a detached house (2500 kWh). Consumption of diesel and gasoline for the mowing machines is also low in absolute figures (although consumption is relatively high per hectare).

The pavilion is very well insulated, using double glass. The lowered ceiling with attic and the roofing all use reed. Thanks to the combination of underfloor heating (natural gas high yield condensing boilers) and an air-conditioning linked to a heat exchanger, the heating system is quite efficient. This makes the necessity of additional electric heating very rare. The facility has a small kitchen.
Virtually all lamps have been replaced with LEDs. All areas have been fitted with motion sensors or time switches, making sure that no light burns unnecessarily. The lighting on the driving range is almost never used.

Supply Chain

The purchasing of resources, foodstuffs, machines and equipment is properly registered. The club is aware of the production chains and the flows of waste materials. They keep a keen eye on the market and are open to innovations. No waste audit has been performed.

The guiding principle is a declaration of intent for sustainable purchasing. Fertilizers are purchased together with the Hooge Graven golf club. Purchases are made in bulk whenever possible, together with the neighbouring restaurant. Large-scale maintenance and specific management are outsourced to Vos Ruinerwold Golf B.V., a company with a sustainability certificate.

Catering is commissioned from small, local companies, large suppliers are rarely used. The club responds to the increasing demand for local, pure and fair products. The Twente region is known for the strong neighbourly ties (the so-called ‘noaberschap’). The club promotes local businesses.

The Vos Ruinerwold Golf B.V. partner company operates according to the (continuously updated) ‘integrated turf management’, which consists of a sophisticated maintenance program that aims for a healthy and therefore closed turf. The company strives to be completely chemical-free in 2020. They regularly take soil samples and attune the fertilizer levels to the current need. Fertilization uses organic-mineral fertilizer. The nitrogen and potassium levels on the greens have dropped significantly.

Waste is collected and separated together with the waste of the neighbouring restaurant. The golf club separates glass, plastics, paper, grass, sand, green waste, and general waste. Frying fat is collected separately. Clippings are left on the fairways. Clippings from the greens are composted and supplied to a local farmer, who uses the compost to fertilize his lands.

Pollution Control

Daily management of the course and the activities in the clubhouse and the maintenance facility comply with all environmental legislation, as stipulated by the Activities Directive Environmental Management 2007. There is no environmental care plan, but the action plan included in the GEO report offers plenty of goals and steps for the coming three years (2016-2019).


The quality of the pond water is monitored on an annual basis. There are plans to have the groundwater analysed once every three years, to be able to properly attune the fertilization plans to this.

All buildings are connected to the public sewer. Oil and grease separators are installed and are regularly emptied and the waste collected.

Hazardous materials are present in small quantities and are safely stored and disposed of, all in compliance with legislation. Hazardous materials for large maintenance are stored off-site. The club keeps a register of hazardous materials to keep a grip on the environmental risks. The double-walled diesel tank is fitted with a drip tray, is placed at least 100 m from the relevant structures, and has been certified by the supplier in 2010.

The wash pad will be reconstructed in early 2016 to fully comply with the relevant legislation. The wash pad will be checked regularly.

There are no sanitary facilities on the course itself. Fertilization takes place on the most opportune moments and if the weather conditions are favourable. Fairways and greens are at a proper distance from open bodies of water. Chemicals are applied only on the greens, and only rarely; this ensures the distance to open water and the forest.

Community

The Erve Braakman golf club has an active member base that includes all age categories and several levels of play. The club even has a playground, making sure that families with small children feel quite at home. The club is part of a regional hospitality chain that includes 5 other golf clubs. The neighbourly attitude characteristic for the Twente region is strong here: people help each other whenever necessary. This strengthens the mutual ties on a local level; this is the basis for the resilient and social community that Twente is known for.

Erve Braakman is a foundation with a small number of employees and volunteers. The daily activities of the only greenkeeper are supplemented by specialists, such as in the field of turf grass management. The greenkeeper has been employed here since the course was constructed and largely enjoyed his education here. The club has a spraying license and an Emergency Response certificate.

The club does not have a specific GEO commission, but the business manager, greenkeeper and several consultants in the fields of nature and environmental management and turf management confer on all GEO topics.

Erve Braakman radiates an aura of openness and hospitality. The ties in this part of the country are traditionally built on trust and a sense of community. Local entrepreneurs meet on the course. The club has direct ties with local education institutes and several schools follow a clinic here.
Contact with the neighbours is practical. Anything that causes friction (such as increasing the height of the net along the driving range) is handled directly and practically.
The relationship with the authorities are solid as well and the club regularly meets with the local municipality, police, fire brigade, and the water authorities. The course will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2016, which is cause for a donation to a concrete and appealing fund.

There are no registered heritage sites, although some of the old oaks and the pattern of water ditches make a definite contribution to the landscape’s cultural-historic values. Course furniture and the signs at the holes have been attuned to the rural style.

There are currently no legal disputes or planning procedures.

Contact with the 500 members is maintained through the meetings of the game organization, the newsletter and questionnaires. The business manager and the greenkeeper are very alert and always listen to suggestions made by players. Such suggestions are actually followed up upon.

Several kinds of media (website, newsletter) are deployed to increase awareness of the course and to communicate the care for nature and environment.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

The philosophy of the Erve Braakman club is: we don’t see problems, we only see opportunities. The club strongly focusses on the members, on their wishes, and on combining possibilities. All target groups will find something they like here: novices, young people, families, and senior citizens. This makes for a perfect spread of players throughout the day. The club is a worthy component of the regional golf world and of society as a whole. Nature and the landscape are also seen as opportunities, and the fact that there are only a few hectares available is no issue at all. These five hectares are home to many species, including some rare and protected ones. The course is fully embedded in the surrounding landscape.

Certification Highlights

1
Succeeding in realizing an 18-pars 3 holes course on 5 hectares of land, while creating extraordinary natural values around a pond and maintaining the landscape characteristics, is certainly cause for praise. One measure for optimal use of the available space is using the pond as a driving range, using floating balls. One example of highly inventive response to the local circumstances is the tee that was bound to disappear due to crumbling of the shores – as a precaution, the club decided to install this tee on a jetty.

2
Erve Braakman accomplishes great things in small ways. This also goes for the social work the club does, which is focused on the region and based on the traditional Twente neighbourly attitude. Short lines of communication and an ingrained readiness to help each other are vital components of this.

3
The golf sport is strengthened and made more resilient because of the hospitality chain exchange with five other courses in the region, in which every course has its own, unique place.