Amsterdamse Golf Club

GEO Certified® 11/2011 GEO Re-Certified 01/2015
Amsterdam,
Netherlands
Telephone: +31(0)20 4977866
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Executive summary (English & local language)

The course of the Amsterdam Golf Club is part of the Spaarnwoude recreational area. Among the nearby neighbours are Golf Club Houtrak, leisure association Recreatieschap Spaarnwoude, Spaarnwoude holiday park (bungalows and campsite), and the Amsterdam harbour. Over all, all parties have sustainability policies in place.
The Spaarnwoude recreational area is part of the ‘national buffer zone’ to limit urbanisation in the area between the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem. The golf course is part of the Nature Network the Netherlands (category ‘search area’). In the future, the ecological coherence will be strengthened by nature corridors between the Amsterdamse Bos forest and Spaarnwoude. The AGC considers the increase of ecological values ensuing from the Committed to Green programme an important development to counter the possible ecological threats posed by the predominantly economically oriented harbour authorities.
The course, with a total of surface area of over 60 hectare, is owned by the club. The course was first opened in 1990 and has developed into a park course over the years. The course was designed by Paul Rolin and has undergone several renovations executed by Gerard Jol. Six pars 3 holes were added in 2004.

The sustainability programme is headed by an active Committed to Green committee which operates in close collaboration with the course committee and the members. The committee considers the GEO programme to contribute to the nature experience of players and to the general support among members, guest players, residents and local authorities for the club from an ecological point of view. The committee comprises driven volunteers who are able to manage many tasks from their own expertise, but do not hesitate to call on external advisors for the more complex elements, such as a environmental management plan. Plans for 2015-2017 have been written down concisely. Furthermore, the changes in the course since the first audit in 2011 have been properly documented.

De baan van de Amsterdamse Golf Club maakt deel uit van het Recreatiegebied Spaarnwoude. Naaste buren zijn Golfclub Houtrak, Recreatieschap Spaarnwoude, Vakantiepark Spaarnwoude (vakantiehuisjes en camping) en Haven Amsterdam. Overall wordt door allen een duurzaam beleid gevoerd.
Recreatiegebied Spaarnwoude is onderdeel van de ‘Rijksbufferzone’ om verstedelijking tussen Amsterdam en Haarlem tegen te gaan. De golfbaan maakt deel uit van het Natuurnetwerk Nederland (categorie ‘zoekgebied’). De ecolische samenhang zal in de toekomst versterkt worden door natuurverbindingen tussen het Amsterdamse Bos en Spaarnwoude. De AGC ziet de toename van de ecologische waarden als gevolg van Committed to Green als een sterk tegengewicht op mogelijke bedreigingen van vooral het economisch sterke havenbedrijf.
De baan, met een oppervlak van ruim 60 hectare, is in eigendom. De baan werd in 1990 geopend en heeft zich in 25 jaar ontwikkeld tot parkbaan. De baan is ontworpen door Paul Rolin en onderging enkele renovaties onder Gerard Jol. In 2004 werden 6 pars 3-holes toegevoegd.

Het duurzaamheidstraject wordt geleid door een actieve Committed to Green commissie, die in nauw contact staat met de baancommissie en de leden. Het GEO-programma draagt volgens de commissie bij aan de vergroting van natuurbeleving van spelers én het draagvlak bij leden, gastspelers, omwonenden en lokale overheden voor de golfbaan vanuit ecologisch oogpunt. De commissie bestaat uit gedreven vrijwilligers die vanuit hun professie veel zelf regelen, maar doet voor meer complexe onderdelen zoals een natuurbeheerplan een beroep op externe adviseurs.
Plannen voor 2015-2017 zijn kort en bondig beschreven. Ook de veranderingen sinds de eerste audit in 2011 zijn goed gedocumenteerd.


Nature

The Amsterdam Golf Club course has been created in a sea clay polder that is part of the former Buiten IJ river. The park course is characterised by the omnipresent water and the accompanying wetland zones, shrubs harbouring many species, and solitary trees with nice views throughout the course. There is no further landscape division within the course itself. The course seems much larger, as the surrounding areas are green as well.
Despite the area’s relative youth, there is a considerable biodiversity. The wealth of birds is especially remarkable. The presence of many different water and bank types makes the area a great home for many amphibians: six species. Lately, the floristic affluence has increased as well. There are stable growth areas for three kinds of orchid.

The course management plan, environmental management plan and flora & fauna overview have been actualised in 2014. One committee member has kept intensive annual bird counts since 1994. Specialists take stock of the other species groups once every three years. Less is known about bats and other mammals.

(Reed) wetlands and open water are the key features and contribute heavily to the natural values. The bodies of water are cleaned in phases. Every winter, one third of the reed banks is mowed, and every summer a local shepherd provides 20 sheep to manage the nature rough. The club intends to increase the number of floral fields to improve the habitats of in particular butterflies and bees.
Tree pits and scrubs are characterised by native species and a structural diversity. Natural processes are left undisturbed as much as possible. Where the game allows for it, there are gradual transfer zones from woodland to forest mantle. It was suggested to collaborate with the golf architect to draw up a tree plan that would facilitate the gradual replacement of leavers, such as poplars, by stayers, such as oak and beech.

The grass composition was attuned to drought-resistant species that need few nutrients. These characteristics are especially important on the greens (95% agrostis and festuca). The turfgrass species on the other game elements are currently over 80% fine-leaved grasses as well. The club chooses to use a mixture of species to reduce susceptibility to diseases. The problems with poa annua have been dealt with.

The greenskeepers work according to a reviewed management plan. Job protocols that are a direct result of the Code of Conduct make sure that environmental legislation is implemented in the nature management.
A lot of attention is paid to water management. The explosion of floating pennywort is now under control. The fish stocks in the ponds are a constant point of attention. Carps are discouraged in the water bodies to prevent damage to the water bank vegetation and erosion. In the last few years, shallow pools and water-saturated areas have been added, and these have proven to be excellent breeding places for amphibians, including the heavily protected natterjack toad. The nest boxes - being of great diversity, including woodpecker boxes - have been replaced by durable boxes of a wood-concrete mixture. The endangered kestrel breeds in the nest boxes every year. The course has a kingfisher wall and a stork nest pole. The golf course is an ideal feeding ground for swallows. Barn swallows have been found breeding in the vehicle shed. There is a plan to install artificial nests for the common house martin in 2015.

Water

The course is located in a polder and lies about 2 meters below sea level. Since the surrounding bodies of water lie even lower (2.8 m below sea level), the course has its own, independent water system and water quality. Sprinkling water that flows through and excess rainwater are drained to the surrounding waterways using an extensive drainage system with a total of 90 km of tubes. Despite the relatively poorly permeable topsoil, the course is playable for the greatest part of the year. The course’s condition is indicated on the club’s website through 4 categories which each have their own restrictions for the players. The drainage system requires very intensive maintenance to prevent blockage. Drains become congested rather quickly because the water’s high iron levels. In the future, the ponds will be dredged in phases to improve the water flow and to prevent the creation of islands.

The consumption of public water in the clubhouse and the maintenance facility is low and still steadily dropping. Surface water is used to hose down machines in summer, public water is used in the winters. The consumption of surface water varies widely: a result of the water-binding capacities of the clay soil. On the other hand, this soil does require a lot of irrigation in dry summers.

Surface water is used for sprinkling, except for the incidental sprinkling in winters. The clay soil only requires a lot of water during long droughts. The turfgrass species are drought-resistant. Water is pumped from the Haarlemmer Ringvaart waterway to a large buffer pond, from which it’s used for sprinkling. A fountain makes sure the water quality is kept at the necessary level. The water quality does depend on the quality of the water in the Haarlemmer Ringvaart.

Awareness of waste of public water is given a lot of attention. Savings on surface water consumption are only interesting in this wet area because they lead to savings on the water pump’s energy costs.

Energy

Energy savings paid a lot of attention, which is reflected in the consumption figures that show a decreasing trend. The energy consumption has dropped by a third between 2007 and 2013 and it is now below average. The Energy Committee, which is fully integrated into the building committee, drew up the environmental management system (2014) which contains proposals for further consumption reductions in the coming years.

There are over ten different meters that gauge the monthly energy consumption. This grip on the power consumption makes it easier to effect changes efficiently. The club now knows, for instance, that the sprinkler pump is responsible for 6% of the total electricity consumption. Kitchen equipment and air conditioning are other large energy consumers. The driving range has lights, however rarely used.
The mowers run on diesel, save for the push mowers which use gasoline. There are two hybrid vehicles. The diesel and gasoline consumption is normal and stable.
Three propane boilers (2010) provide heating for the buildings. Consumption is relatively high and strongly depends on the winter temperatures.

100% of the electricity is purchased from hydropower suppliers. The possibilities of powering the fountain with a small wind turbine are currently being investigated. There is also a plan to use wind energy to pump the irrigation water. There is scarce suitable roof surface for solar panels (considering size, sun exposure, absence of shadow). The trend is here to invest in savings instead of generating power on site.

The board has approved an investment plan to purchase more energy-efficient lighting; the plan will be implemented in 2015. The conventional bulbs will be replaced by LEDs in phases, and motion sensors will be installed in, among others, the greenskeepers’ shed. In 2014, the renovation of the kitchen was completed, which saw the installation of energy-efficient equipment (extraction installation, new cold storage room). In the future, there will also be new energy-efficient mowers that can run on biodiesel. There are no other options for reducing consumption in the mowing department, since the fast growth of vegetation (eutrophic soil) would obstruct the game.

Supply Chain

The committee is very aware of all the intakes and outflows of the club and communicates this to the work groups and the board. Energy consumption and certification are important factors in the purchase of new machines and equipment.

In the past few years, energy efficiency has become an important criterion in new purchases. Currently, the club is considering purchasing six new mowers, and energy consumption and the possibility to use biodiesel are important criteria. The market is explored for options, such as more effective fertilisation of the greens by injecting sand with the fertiliser (‘top-changer’), which requires less fertiliser as well as less frequent fertilisation.

The club is supplied by several large wholesalers, meaning that the transport and the related environmental pressure are minimised. The restaurant has partially switched to organic foods.

The club has opted to combine varieties to reduce vulnerability, addressing issues at their source. Pesticides are applied as little as possible. Herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are still used on the greens. The weed issue has been reduced since the greens were renovated. Organic fertilisation has stopped, but the club still uses organic soil conditioner on the fairways.

The committee drew up a waste assessment in 2014, providing the club with an excellent overview of the waste flows and the options for processing and reducing waste.
The goal that was set three years ago - to process all biomass waste internally - has been attained. Waste from the course is used in woven branch fences or is deposited in the compost landfill that was created in 2012. This landfill meets all legal requirements for the storage of green waste and has been fitted, among others, with an underlying base of wood chips that absorb the juices; this base must be renewed every 3 to 5 years.

Pollution Control

The committee wrote an environmental care system (2014). Subjects were: water, waste, energy, hazardous materials, and training. All general rules for environmental management apply and the club sufficiently adheres to these.

The water inflow is analysed every year to gauge pH values, chlorides, minerals and more. The high levels of iron cause problems by quickly clogging the drains. Airing the sprinkling pond improves the water quality.

All wastewater is led to the sewers. Wastewater from the kitchen and the wash pad is led through oil and grease traps. These are cleaned by an external company 2 to 3 times a year.

Hazardous materials (pesticides, gasoline, paints, etc.) are treated, stored and registered in accordance with all applying regulations. The storage rooms are closed and are installed in the machine shed and under the open roof structure.

The maintenance facility of the greenskeepers is spacious and clearly structured. Diesel is stored in a certified double-walled tank. The mowing machines use biodegradable fat. The seams of the impermeable machine wash pad have been cemented. The new cold storage in the kitchen does not use any CFCs.

The transition zones between the roughs and the reed wetlands or the forest mantle are breeding places for orchids, and these nature zones are surrounded by buffer zones. The green waste disposal area now meets all environmental permit requirements.
Sanitation facilities on the coarse are fitted with septic tanks. Before running to the sewer, the wastewater is biodegraded, but since not all users use the system properly, it is not functioning as it should.

Community

The club is thoroughly anchored in society, particularly in a practical sense. The club keeps a close eye on developments; they contribute or join in deliberation if it is relevant to the club.
The well-kept documentation and correspondence form important foundations. The club has a three-pronged communication plan that revolves around the website, club magazine and newsletters.

The club requires a lot of maintenance (eutrophic environment means a lot of growth, water system), which is performed by 8 employed greenskeepers. During their training and supplementary courses, the greenskeepers have familiarised themselves with the possible procedures for using machines, chain saws, push mowers, ways to combat weeds, and so forth. Most of them have a spraying license. Many members are active in one of the work groups.

The Committed to Green committee comprises three regular members supported by a number of temporary members. The committee chair is head of sustainability for a large company and is very knowledgeable about the subject. The head greenskeeper is an indispensible link in the chain from conception to execution. The committee maintains close contact with the course committee and building committee (the energy committee is part of the latter).

The course is not accessible to the general public, but the surrounding area has comparable landscape and natural values, and offers plenty to visitors. There are good relationships with nature conservation organisations, the regional leisure association, the regional water authority, the city of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Harbour. These relationships are vital to counter latent threats to the environment. There is regular contact with neighbours concerning practical (management) matters. The club closely collaborates with the Golfclub Houtrak greenskeeper and the water authority with regards to management of the water system. The committee does not hesitate to address issues with the water authority, such as the unfavourable management of reed banks.

Its status as a country estate yields the course fiscal benefits but does not include limitations. In a neighbouring field, Stichting Het Eiland is installing a duck decoy structure commissioned by the Amsterdam Harbour and the city of Amsterdam; this is a reconstruction of the duck decoy that used to stand on the island of Ruigoord. The CtG committee is involved in this education project that is aimed at teenagers who live on the edges of society.
Shell paths are the perfect choice for a region so close to the North Sea, but they do require very frequent repairs. Course furniture is hardly noticeable.

There are currently no legal disputes or planning procedures. There are no plans for renovations or expansions.

The club prioritises internal communication over external communication. The most recent issue of club magazine Birdy refers to the re-audit and extensively reports on the course committee’s plans for the coming years. The club participates in the Birding Day and is considering taking part in the Committed to Birds programme.

The course has been maximally accepted by society and has no specific external presence. Broader society offers neither added value nor resistance. The website pays a lot of attention to GEO and the nature on and outside of the course, which is accompanied by professional photographs by one of the committee members.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

After its first certification, the Amsterdam Golf Club continued with gusto to sustainably manage and maintain its course and buildings. A lot is done by the club itself, which is made possible partially by the professional backgrounds of the committee members. The remarks of the 2011 audit were taken seriously and have led to a better handle on and improvement of internal waste management and the water ecosystem, and led to a significant reduction of energy consumption. The club has furthermore improved the lines of communication.

Certification Highlights

1
The GEO committee comprises a permanent core of three driven professionals: a sustainability specialist, an experienced greenskeeper, and an ornithologist/nature photographer. This core is supported by three other members. The committee has been able to effect changes with remarkable diligence and vigour. Steps to improve sustainability are taken n many different fronts.

2
Despite their relative youth, the tree pits are home to a great biodiversity, which is possible because of the variations in density, layers, dead materials, and facilities such as nest boxes, jumble sheds, and large branch fences. The transitions to flower-rich rough grasslands and wet biotopes also contribute to the great variety of species.

3
The water system is highly complex. A dense network of well-kept drains ensures that the course remains playable despite the poorly permeable clay. There is little outside influence on the course because it is situated higher than its surroundings.