Notts. Golf Club (Hollinwell)

GEO Certified® 01/2017
Mansfield,
England, United Kingdom
Telephone: 01623 753225
Hollinwell_13th_1338_club_image

Executive summary (English & local language)

Notts Golf Club is one of the premier nature conservation sites within the UK, it is every bit a nature reserve as it is a golf course and indeed is well known for its nature conservation interests UK wide. The course lies within plantation woodland but is essentially heathland in character and this has been brought out by the ongoing management that is provided by the greenstaff on behalf of the club. Tree and scrub management heath regeneration all backed by grazing are key to retaining the conservation interests at Nott’s golf club and all are being undertaken on a routine basis. This course is a prime exemplar and ambassador for best conservation management practice something that has evolved in line with experience and with regular close working with the local wildlife groups. The whole of the conservation management is overseen and monitored by the Sherwood Forest Trust and through regular and ongoing discussions with Natural England, The Wildlife Trusts and The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

Pollution control is managed effectively and sustainably. As a Heathland golf course the environment is recognised as the key asset. Products, maintenance operations and waste are all managed in such a way as to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. The Heathland is managed in an effective and controlled way, with grazing, self-set tree and scrub removal, use and encouragement of native grass species all part of the annual maintenance program.

This site although not supporting any statutory designations is managed as though it did support internationally important habitats certainly recognition is given through management to the internationally protected species. The water quality on site is checked periodically for various reasons. Analysis is both carried out in relation to crayfish and water vole conservation and for irrigation purposes.

The playing surfaces are managed to an extremely high standard this was highlighted by player comments during the visit by the players and by visual inspection.

Nature

The golf course was formally part of the Royal Forest of Sherwood historic, maps were provided dating back to the early 1700s (Sanderson et al). These show the site to have formally been a wood pasture/open heath. After early woodland clearance heathland recovered. Through more recent history, the landscape has became dominated by a variety of trees, particularly pines, birch, oak and more recently bracken and scrub.

The Club recognising the above, set about reinstating the heath in the 1990s. This visit served to demonstrate the excellent conservation management techniques being implemented and their benefit in reinstating conserving the heath.
Work has been ongoing from the end of the 1990s and has evolved in line with conservation management best practice working and greenkeeper experience. I was able in 2016 to document tree felling and scrub clearance as part of the ongoing HLS 10 year stewardship scheme which interestingly here at Notts Golf Club is bolstered by one of the most effective grazing programmes I have seen. Three existing large grazing compartments have been installed the results of which are clear to see indeed the club given the success of the grazing are planning to extend the compartments where possible into the line of play (into suited areas of carry etc.).

Heathland regeneration work is undertaken with a very high level of expertise and on a routine basis by the greenstaff. Particular highlights included the extent of the scrub clearance the restoration of the pristine grassland habitats and the creation of bare and open ground.

The greenstaff are also actively involved in the control of bracken which again is effective and routine and greenstaff work to eradicate unwanted weed grasses from areas of heather using physical techniques alongside chemical work (new graminicide management).

As indicated above the Club area looking to increase the grazing compartments not only out into areas of play but also to include areas of cleared woodland all to further expand upon the important heathland resource. Indeed talking to the Club and the course manager this is something that is clearly at the forefront of their thinking and will be implemented as and whenever possible (ongoing basis).

The site supports no statutory designations but it is a non-statutory site of local importance for nature conservation (SLINC).
The site covers well over 460 ha of prime open heath to woodland, only 10% of the site is utilised for golf. The total areas are provided within the application.

The extent of amenity grassland is minimal and over the last few years has been further reduced by way of enabling through management a series of developing fringing rough areas to further improve the transition between the in play areas and the wider off line rough. This grassland tracts running within each hole allow balls to gather and be played before they enter the conservation grassland. This has both conservation and golfing benefit.

The Club regularly monitors white clawed cray fish potential and activity and water vole activity through the site. Wildlife surveying has been undertaken by the Sherwood Forest Trust and through Notts Biodiversity Action Group. Wildlife surveys available to view included water vole, bats, annual bird survey (undertaken by PB Harris). Other occasional faunal surveys have also been carried out by the Nottinghamshire Biological & Geological Record Centre, all surveys are stored within the course manager’s office and are available to view.

I discussed surveys with the Club and it was clear that a number of surveys are regularly undertaken by different groups but often reports are not provided directly to the Golf Club. Going forward the Club will engage wildlife auditing on a yearly basis to develop and build upon the base line information viewed. This will help to further inform ongoing conservation management going forward. The Club are keen to commit to continuing ecological survey on an annual basis.

The Club largely through the course manager does retain excellent relations with the immediate neighbours this is demonstrated by reciprocal communications dealing with common issues that affect neighbours and the golf club. In addition the course manager is involved with local environmental groups which helps networking, the Club also communicate more widely and have features on Spring Watch (BBC television production) which brought additional recognition directly to the Club and indeed through and into public circles. The Club contribute and attend an annual community group forum which provides an open discussion group for all landowners, farmers and stakeholders north of Nottingham (over 300 plus regular attendees). This provides significant networking opportunities whilst enables ideas, issues, problem solving, legislation and other management issues to be discussed. The Club run a website which will need to be refreshed and updated periodically.

One element not adequately covered within the application but which the club excel is the role of the golf club in encouraging schools/youth enthusiasts. The Club offer free weekly tuition through the professional which is regularly attended by over 12 persons per week. The Club also offer tuition to adult non-members upon request.

Conservation management at Notts Golf Club is overseen and monitored by the Sherwood Forest Trust and through regular and ongoing discussions with Natural England and The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.

The Club regularly monitors white clawed cray fish potential and activity and water vole activity through the site. Wildlife surveying has been undertaken by the Sherwood Forest Trust and through Notts Biodiversity Action Group. Wildlife surveys available to view included water vole, bats, annual bird survey (undertaken by PB Harris). Other occasional faunal surveys have also been carried out by the Nottinghamshire Biological & Geological Record Centre, all surveys are stored within the course manager’s office and are available to view.

I was extremely impressed to see that the Club has set up a sustainability working group compromising of the general manage, course manager, committee members, Sherwood Forest Trust (NGO) and other employees as appropriate to oversee on-going day to day management, to realise opportunities and to provide direction through all of the criteria identified through on course.

The site covers well over 460 ha of prime open heath to woodland, only 10% of the site is utilised for golf. The total areas are provided within the application. The heath is in favourable condition being managed by grazing and physical removal of scrub and by physical and chemical control of bracken. The grasslands adjacent the play areas receive physical management through cutting scarification and occasional graminicide application. The site supports no statutory designations but it is a non-statutory site of local importance for nature conservation (SLINC). The club are aware of protected species and are working to conserve both water vole and white clawed crayfish (EPS).

Turfgrass management is optimal and geared towards maintaining the heathland nature of the course. Management favours stress tolerant species which survive here through a regime of low fertility and moisture. Disease resistance is also important. The club are annually overseeding (Bent/Fescue) by way of their adviser led program.

A full itemised description of turfgrass usage is provided within the application, levels of inorganic fertiliser used on greens and tees remains relatively constant, levels are acceptable for site conditions and in the maintenance of tagged species. Total amounts of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide are extremely low uses directed and carefully targeted. Through all nature conservation areas physical management is preferred, chemical applications of herbicides are utilised largely to contain scrub, which is appropriate.

Tree and scrub removal is extensive and carried out annually allowing for the restoration of the heath. Large out of play areas are grazed using Notts wildlife trust sheep (hired annually) these help enormously in maintaining favourable condition status. The grazing compartments are to be extended out into areas of carry and into the playing line such as been the success of this work. Grazing has helped improve species composition and structural diversity within the sward.

Water

The Club have found the certification process enlightening and in recognising water usage are keen to reduce further as and where possible. Total quantities of water used over the golf course itself have varied quite considerably over the last three years, no doubt a reflection of prevailing weather conditions. Figures have reduced from around 6 million litres to around 5.36 million litres. Water is supplied through abstraction for winter and summer use, water is taken from the river and stored within the three ponds. Annual consumption through the clubhouse is relatively constant remaining at around 1.5 ml per annum.

Currently the irrigation systems are serviced annually this includes recalibrations, checks for leaks, etc. Turfgrass management is geared towards encouraging drought stress and soil management works to ensure more open soil conditions (verti-draining and other aeration works).

Soil moisture levels are monitored weekly and this directs irrigation use. Routine management does include the use of wetting agents to further reduce irrigation requirement. Water management is optimised on the golf course by way of a computerised system delivering in relation to soil conditions.

Within the Clubhouse the majority of water used is through washing, laundry, etc. A recent water audit has provided short and long term recommendations which are being considered and the majority will be brought into fruition to help reduce consumption further. Currently flow regulators within the showers, tap inserts and cistern saver initiatives are being introduced. The golf club is also considering the showering/toilet inside of the changing rooms which ideally within the three year term, i.e. through to the next verification stage will include revised facilities more geared towards reduced water consumption.

Energy

The main source of energy through the clubhouse is biomass alongside oil and electricity. The total useful floor area extends to 1100 m2 and a recent energy report demonstrates that the clubhouse is extremely energy efficient. A recent energy performance report indicates an asset rating of A.

Energy figures have been provided for 2015 but are unavailable for 2013 and 2014. The Club will going forward continue to monitor and review energy usage, records will be retained within the secretary’s office and will need to be reviewed during subsequent verification reviews.
We did discuss the possibility of exploring the biomass options further, the Club will look at the sources of wood currently purchased in relation to their eat outputs and if possible will work towards growing and utilising timber on site.

In addition to the above, the energy performance report provided in 2016 does cover a number of valuable recommendations that will based on potential impact deliver further energy savings. This report will be considered over the course of the next three years with regards to improving energy efficiency by the next review.

Walking around the facility it was apparent that notices are provided requesting that lights be turned off. The Club do use motion sensors within the changing rooms and I was pleased to hear that all new employees receive induction training on the need to be energy and waste aware. All staff understand and are regularly updated on their own responsibility to remain energy aware. The Club have recently adopted an holistic purchasing policy based on the back of the GEO OnCourse application process which details the Club’s interest in seeking excellence in every aspect of its business workings showing commitment to minimising the social, environmental and ethical impacts of all supplied chain issues. The policy sets out operating principals placing responsibility not only on the golf club but through all supplier chains and expectations of suppliers are set out within the policy. Part of the policy is the production and dissemination of a supplier performance questionnaire which asks questions which will be evaluated by the Club and which will be used going forward to promote best practice through all supply chain areas. All staff are aware of the purchasing policy.


The main energy sources used by the club are listed in the OnCourse profile and application. The club is looking to increase the use of biomass.

The club is in discussion (2016) with the electricity provider about adopting green tariff supply and its benefits to help reduce consumption and associated costs.

The club house requires no major upgrades but following the energy audits smaller scale initiatives are being implemented. These include motion sensors in the men's changing rooms, staff induction and refresher training energy minimisation signage, low energy lighting throughout and low energy bulbs through several areas (on-going phase-in).

Supply Chain

The principal resources used at Notts fall into two categories - the course and the clubhouse.
For the course, local businesses are used where possible to provide maintenance services, resources are specialised so tend to come from specialist companies, most however from within the region. Local environmental consultants and organizations are preferred and include The Sherwood Forest Trust and Notts Wildlife Trust.

Food and beverage products are primarily sourced from local suppliers.

Retail products for sale via the professional's shop are mainly sourced from suppliers outside the immediate locality
Resources are purchased on an as required basis, preventing over-stock and limiting waste. The club recognise the need to maintain and use local suppliers with only some retail products being brought in outside of a 30 mile limit (maintenance equipment and golf pro retail etc.).

All maintenance activities are first and foremost geared to promoting drought and disease tolerant turf practices ranging from tree clearance to staff induction and training are all well established. Inputs of fertiliser are low. The greens receive around 40KGN/ha; tees receive 45 to 50kgN/ha; fairways receive only K at around 15kg/ha per annum (all weather and ground conditions dependant).

The club uses sulphate of iron in preference to fungicides but, herbicides insecticides and fungicides may all be used but on a need-only basis and at appropriate target rates. Records are available supporting claimed use.

The club adopt a waste hierarchy which includes limiting supply, re using and recycling.

The club are aware of their preferred waste hierarchy. with most waste being re used and less being recycled. Grass clippings are collected and composted. The compost scheme is effective and is bringing additional conservation gain - used annually for breeding grass snake.

Pollution Control

The golf club is proud to be part of the regional white clawed crayfish conservation projects and as such keen to ensure that all water entering and leaving the site is duly checked. Current practice involves monitoring of water for irrigation purposes. The club do recognise the need for clean water entering the site every bit as much as that leaving. Water entering the golf club land passes through a designated natural reed bed designed to capture any inputs arising from the adjacent land uses. Even with the reed bed in place the club will going forward actively monitor and record water quality as it enters and leaves the site.

This is something that will be progressed on an annual basis following our discussions. Records will be provided kept and available to view by the next certification review.

Water is split between potable water for the clubhouse and abstraction water for the golf course, discharged through all areas is to a septic tank. Wash down water for maintenance equipment is directed to a functional “designed in” reed bed. Indeed many golf clubs regularly visit Hollingwell to view the reed bed for their potential use such has been the success of the reedbed since its introduction over 10 years ago.

Pollution prevention programmes include appropriate storage of petrol, chemicals and fertilisers. The Club adopts best working practice in respect of mixing and applying chemicals, levels used as indicated above are extremely low which itself eliminates leachate and/or run off. All of the drainage ditches/rivers are provided with a strong, managed riparian bund which further eliminates the potential for run off whilst enhancing ecological corridor interests. Many of the water features are heavily reed fringed which further helps migration of soils or chemicals into these sensitive areas.

All of the water courses are healthy and support sensitive aquatic life including snails and water vole. The latter is a European protected species and the Club work carefully to ensure that that this species is not harmed either directly or indirectly as a result of any form of pollution. The three large grazing compartments occupying over 20 ha in total, all of which are managed as chemical free zones.

Irrigation water quality is monitored periodically - 2 yearly for its biological content, weekly visual checks are also carried out. There is a need to monitor all waters entering and leaving site and this has been added as a continual development point going forward.

Waste water from all areas is directed to a septic tank and/or to the onsite seedbed. No water used either in the clubhouse, maintenance facility or the golf course leaves the site without first passing through one of the two recognised treatment points.

The maintenance facility has secondary containment in place for both diesel and oil, all chemicals are stored in a lockable steel container designed to accommodate spills. correct storage techniques are in place with emergency spill kits and the area around the storage is clean and well signed and ventilated.
Fertilizers are stored in a dry and secure building. The petrol facility complies with relevant legislation and tests.

All water from the clubhouse and associated waste water is directed to a septic tank for storage and periodic collection. Records available to view.

All of the water courses are healthy and support sensitive aquatic life including snails and water vole.
Inputs to turfgrass are appropriate and mixed in designated areas such that no indirect or point source pollution occurs. This is evidenced by the presence of healthy aquatic life and EPS.

Community

The golf club retains very strong links with the local nature conservation organisations including the Local authority SLINC) and the county wildlife trust. The Notts wildlife Trust retains responsibility for the grazing regimes in place and provide the grazing stock.

The club are well recognised in the area as a key conservation site something that as been publicised through the Golf Environment Awards and other club press and news paper releases. The local conservation groups also publicise conservation interests from the course.

The club have set up a sustainability working group comprised of The General Manager, Course Manager, Committee Members, Local Environment NGOs there remit is to discuss and promote course development and management including HLS stewardship, conservation, landscape and club and course sustainability.

The course manager maintains a working relationship with the site neighbours and is involved with several local environmental groups, networking, seeking advice, employing their expertise etc. He will also attend local meetings and seminars, with the club also hosting where appropriate.

The Club works with planning officers at Ashfield District Council to assist them with their promotional materials that showcase the area. In addition to using local suppliers for services and products, several local businesses have advertising space within the club.

The club employs 21 permanent and 7 part time staff.

No specific footpaths transect the course but the club are keen to engage more with the public regarding landscape and heritage and will going forward encourage survey publicising results as appropriate.

We did discuss the benefits of raising awareness as to the nature conservation value of the site and this is clearly something that the Club are keen to continue. Notts Golf Club undertake annual walks and talks for members, provide monthly reports and presentations.

Within the next three years the Club will work to encourage local naturalists on at least one occasion to provide a broad overview of wildlife interest.

A first meeting of the sustainability working group was held in November 2016. Meetings will be held annually (two per year) over the course of the next three years. All minutes of each sustainability working group meeting will be retained and made available for the next verification review.

Notts Golf Club undertake annual walks and talks for members, providing monthly reports and presentations. The Club will work to encourage local naturalists onto the course as a trial at least one occasion over the course of the next three years.


Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

This club is one of the most proactive of clubs with regard to ecology and landscape management, something that has been practised since the late 1990s. More recently the club have turned their attention to sustainability throughout the facility. The drive and passion is strongly evident form all involved and the members are effectively being made aware of these activities. The environmental sustainability group made up from internal and external representatives will ensure that this club remains proactive in this regard. Testament to the club's management is the presence of EPS including water vole which here is present because and not despite the management provided.

Certification Highlights

The extent of habitat being managed and the success of this management for heathland conservation.
The diversity of habitats represented increase conservation and landscape significance enabling a stronger biodiversity.
The reed bed being well known to many who visit the club simply to view and assess for their own gain.

Finally the level of green keeping understanding and experience is very high. This gives confidence to the many tasks that are being carried out annually. The green staff and the club have a very strong awareness of environmental management too, strongly evident when discussing energy, waste, water and facility management - all the aspects which most golf clubs need to consider.