Golfclub Broekpolder

GEO Certified® 05/2012 GEO Re-Certified 01/2016
Vlaardingen ,
Netherlands
Telephone: +31(0) 10 249 55 55
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Executive summary (English & local language)

The club has its roots in the ‘Rotterdamse Golfclub’ (Golf club Rotterdam – 1932) and played on the site that now houses the Openbare Golfbaan Kralingen. The club moved to the Broekpolder in 1981 and changed its name to ‘Golfclub Broekpolder.’ This pre-history makes the course a member of the ‘Old Nine.’ The design and construction were executed in collaboration with the provincial planning office and the English golf course architect J.J. Frank Pennink.

The course of the Golfclub Broekpolder is situated on the northern rim of the eponymous recreational area (65 ha; property of the national Forestry Commission). The Boonervliet waterway marks the boundary between the golf course and the De Vlietlanden natural reserve (part of the Dutch Natural Monuments). The course’s landscape includes elements of both a park course and a polder course. This characteristic South-Holland openness, causing a lot of wind, bodies of water and long holes, makes this a challenging course with international allure. The club invests significant amounts of time and money in the course’s continual improvement. A renovation plan, supported by course architect Gerald Jol, was executed a number of years ago, and another renovation plan for several holes and bunkers is in the pipeline. There are no plans to expand the course.

In 2012, Golfclub Broekpolder accomplished its wish to receive a GEO certificate for the sustainable operation and management of the course. The underlying motives were: (1) an impulse to look at things differently; (2) the environmental department of the Rijnmond region; and (3) the course’s location in the middle of natural reserves. There is currently a small committee that actively keeps striving toward this goal, supported by other committees and external experts.


De club heeft haar roots in de ‘Rotterdamse Golfclub’ (1932) en speelde op de plek waar nu de
Openbare Golfbaan Kralingen ligt. In 1981 verhuisde de club naar de Broekpolder en veranderde van naam: ‘Golfclub Broekpolder’. De baan is door deze voorgeschiedenis een van de ‘Oude Negen’ . Het ontwerp en de aanleg zijn tot stand gekomen door samenwerking tussen de provinciale planologische dienst en de Engelse golfbaanarchitect J.J. Frank Pennink.

De baan van de Golfclub Broekpolder ligt aan de noordrand van het gelijknamige recreatiegebied (65 hectare; eigendom van Staatsbosbeheer). De Boonervliet vormt de grens tussen de golfbaan en natuurgebied De Vlietlanden (natuurmonumenten). Landschappelijk gezien houdt de baan het midden tussen parkbaan en polderbaan. Die Hollandse openheid met veel wind, waterpartijen en lange holes zorgen voor een uitdagende baan met internationale allure. Er wordt veel tijd en geld geïnvesteerd om de baan voortdurend te verbeteren. Zo is een aantal jaren geleden met hulp van golfbaanarchitect Gerard Jol een renovatieplan uitgevoerd. Er ligt nog een renovatieplan voor enkele holes en een bunkerplan op de planken. Uitbreiden is niet aan de orde.

Golfclub Broekpolder heeft in 2012 aan de wens voldaan om haar duurzame bedrijfsvoering en beheer van de baan te laten onderscheiden door middel van een GEO-certificering. Motieven zijn: (1) een impuls om anders te kijken; (2) de Milieudienst Rijnmond en (3) de situering te midden van natuurgebieden. Op dit moment is een kleine commissie met hulp van overige commissies en externe specialisten actief om deze weg voort te zetten.


Nature

Broekpolder is the name of the golf course, as well as of the polder that the course lies in. This historical name is quite significant: in this specific context, a “broek” refers to wet clay grounds with a dominance of alder trees and willows. The Steenenmolen mill on the Boonervliet canal, near the golf course, was used the drain the area to create grazing lands for livestock. The course is bordered on two sides by natural reserves with high natural and landscape values: the Vlaardingse Vlietlanden (part of the National Ecological Network) on the western side, and the Ruigte Broekpolder area on the eastern side. As the Vlietlanden were never used as peat lands and were never reclaimed, they are noticeably higher. In 1958, the Broekpolder was divided into sections for depositing sludge cleared from the port of Rotterdam. There were plans for residential construction, but these were abandoned when it was discovered that the soil contained toxic substances.
This history as a dredge depot has erased much of the cultural history of the area, save for the old trees surrounding a former farmhouse. The course is home to both open, water-rich parts and woody, rougher areas. The course strives to maintain this split and to foster characteristics of both neighbouring natural reserves. Its position between these natural reserves has led to a broad biodiversity, with bird and amphibians among the top performers – there is a reason the club logo includes a frog.

There are annual inventories for birds, nesting boxes, insects and amphibians, performed by club members and supported by the city ecologist. A local chapter of the Dutch field biology association (KNNV) began keeping inventory of the vegetation using PQs in 2015. A monitoring plan has been drawn up to structure these diverse inventories.

Fast-growing trees, such as willow, birch and poplar, were planted during the course construction. As the years passed, these have been replaced by other species such as the English oak, horse chestnut and a few walnut trees. Trees that grew high were pruned using the “candelabra” technique. The trees around the greens are cut down to open the greens up to light, wind and sun, which hinders the development of mildew. Alien species are kept off the course and shrub-forming species that are native to the area are encouraged.
The course is a (potential) habitat for a two rare, highly-protected lowland marsh mammals: the Tundra vole and the water shrew. Long-eared owls have made their roost here, nightingales nest in the rough nettle grasslands, the great bittern and water rail hide in the reeds, and kestrels, little owls and buzzards can find plenty of prey. The ecological cohesion is naturally strong here and is strengthened by the links that are made to the surrounding nature.

The old layout of the holes does not offer an ideal basis. Greens, tees fairways and semi-roughs consist of 80% poa annua. This is considered a given and is accepted by the club. New varieties of Festuca rubra and lolium perenne are being sowed; these species are adapted to the clay soil and to intensive use. This is a matter of long-term patience. Poa annua has proven to be difficult to drive out on this rich clay soil and similar surface layer. The practice greens are used to test new strategies.

The nature management plan has been drawn up by an external consultant and the nature goals and points of action have been linked to this plan. In addition, the former city ecologist has issued practical advice and guidelines for 18 subareas that would increase the natural values. This list is rather expansive and highly ambitious. Recommendations have been implemented over the past three years with varying degrees of success. Fauna facilities are exceptionally numerous. Examples includes 50 nesting boxes, wild bees in the bunkers, a kingfisher wall, small rafts for common terns, breeding baskets for ducks, a sand martin wall, and an ecofield. These projects are tested for their effectiveness.

Water

Water is omnipresent on and around the course. The water is buffered and purified by large bodies of water and the bordering reed marsh. Because the course in situated in an old polder there is a net balance of pumping water out. Water is pumped in from the Boonervliet on the north side to sprinkle the course. There are no salinisation issues as there are in other parts of the Westland. The drainage water is pumped to a ring ditch on the south side of the area, and then led through a pump sump and to the Broekpolder water treatment plant. There are deliberations underway to disconnect this chain, as the effluent easily meets the quality norms (see: ‘Pollution control’). The ring ditch is monitored by the water authorities and the bodies of water by the golf club. Dredging is necessary to increase the internal buffering capabilities. The carp issue in the ponds is battled by fishing every three years. Predatory fish species such as pike are unfortunately unable to survive here.

The consumption levels for public water are high and rise every year. The exact reason for this is unclear. Water consumption for greenkeeping was also exceptionally high for a while; this turned out to be due to a leak. Surface water is pumped from the Boonervliet to wash the machines.

A total volume of 5000 m3 of external surface water is pumped into the ponds ever year and used to sprinkle the greens and tees. This is always done in the evenings and at night. The fairways are only sprinkled in case of prolonged droughts, to prevent the drying of the clay soil.
The old drains have been cleaned between 2012 and 2015 and several repairs have been performed, which were necessary as the drains are crushed and shattered by tree roots and slipping of the terrain. The aim is to replace the 60 km of drains in phases.

The number of measuring points has been expanded to three in 2013, which allows for a better grip on water consumption and possible leaks. Yucca extract is applied to the greens to stimulate the water intake. A rain sensor ensures that the artificial sprinkling is turned off in time. Low flow cisterns and water-efficient showerheads have been installed.

Energy

The CO₂ burden on the environment (ecological footprint) has been measured over the past 3 years. A reduction in CO₂ emissions requires reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, which will have the added benefit of lowering the operational costs. There has not been an energy audit but the club is aware of its energy consumption. There are only two measuring points for electricity (in the clubhouse and the maintenance facility). The buildings are now 35 years old and require adjustments to reduce the energy consumption.

After a period of a decrease in electricity consumption, usage has been up since 2011. And consumption is high. The major consumers are the restaurant and the lighting. The lights in the parking area use fluorescent tubes. The driving range is lit up, but hardly used. There is no outside heating. As the site is rather remote, there is no connection with the natural gas network. The three high-yield boilers use liquid propane that is supplied by tank trucks; 95% is used for heating the buildings, the remainder for warm water. The mowing machines are diesel-powered, the transporters run on electricity.

The club does not use renewable energy sources. The options for using solar panels, cogeneration and ground source heat to generate non-fossil energy on-site were investigated but dismissed due to the unfavourable costs-yields ratio. Heat pumps would be a viable option for heating the building and thereby reducing the gas consumption with 90%. While the club awaits the exact consumption figures, installation of the heat pumps is expected in 2017. The club is furthermore considering the installation of 75 m2 of solar panels on the greenkeeper shed, but the investment costs are currently still too steep. Wind turbines are undesirable due to their high impact on the nature and landscape values.

The past three years have seen investments in the clubhouse insulation: the glass panels have been fitted with double glass and the building’s sloped roof has been insulated. This has had a noticeable effect on gas consumption. The greenkeeping shed has transparent roof panels that let in natural light. There is a gradual move towards energy-efficient lighting. There is a beautiful bicycle route for members living in Vlaardingen, as well as a roofed bicycle parking. The number of lockers will be increased.

Supply Chain

A member of the board represents the golf club in the Federatie Broekpolder, which is a collective of 23 parties in the Broekpolder recreational area that work together towards common goals, such as joint waste collection, purchasing, and power generation. The Vlaardingen municipality then executes the proposals. In many ways, this is an ideal forum to implement changes in the supply chain and logistics.

A letter has been sent to the club’s suppliers to inquire after their sustainability and ethics policies.
The club closely follows new developments in alternative energy sources for vehicles, and tests these when possible. A disadvantage of electric mowing machines is their limited capacity and the weight of the batteries, which can cause the mower to topple, thereby damaging the turf. Mowing machines are used following a passing-on system, in which electric machines will first be used on the greens, which will reduce the consumption of diesel oil.

The suppliers are all local, except for the suppliers directly related to the course itself. The restaurant and bar are run by an independent contractor, but final responsibility lies with the club’s board. The kitchen facilities are the property of the club and the club can exert influence here, though it cannot determine where foodstuffs and beverages are purchased from.

The degree of fertilisation is normal. 90% of fertilisers is organic; liquid on the greens and pellets on the tees.
Aggressive products were banned as must as possible over ten year ago and the club strives to use organic pesticides. Legal chemical products are used occasionally. Some winters, mildew poses a large problem. This is largely due to the ‘old-fashioned’ composition of the greens. Fungicides are applied if the issue becomes pressing. The greenkeepers try to prevent this by using ironwood, by sanding and by airing the greens. Herbicides are not used every year. Insecticides are never used; the course hardly suffers from leather jackets, although sanding the greens will increase this risk.

There has not been an official waste audit but the waste flows and volumes are known. Waste is separated at its source. Clippings are collected at a few fixed locations in the forest edge and then removed in containers. A part of the wood is used in ecopiles on the sunny forest edges.

Pollution Control

Due to the former function of the course’s site as dumping ground for sludge from the port, the subsoil is contaminated with so-called “drins” (dieldrin, aldrin, endrin) and heavy metals. This creates significant environmental pressure and the site is monitored by the environmental department of the Rijnmond region (DCMR) for leakage of hazardous materials, and there are limits to the amount of soil that can be moved on the golf course. Because of this background, the club is well-informed about the environmental legislation and the monitoring is properly arranged. This provides a basis for an environmental care plan. This plan will be worked out in 2016 with the help of an outside consultant.

Measurements by the water authorities show that the outflowing water has met the norms since 2012 and no longer requires after-treatment. The club has therefore entered into negotiations with the Vlaardingen municipality and the Hoogheemraadschap Delfland regional water authority to disconnect the golf course surface water from the water treatment plant.

The clubhouse and maintenance facility are connected to the sewer, as well as sanitary facilities on the course. (Motor) vehicles and mowing machines are cleaned on an impermeable wash pad which drains into the sewer. Grease traps in the kitchen and the maintenance facility prevent contamination of the sewer. The traps are cleaned every month.

All fuels, fertilisers and pesticides are stored, registered and checked in closed rooms that satisfy the legal requirements.

The machine shed is spacious and uncluttered. The wash pad is fitted with impermeable sheets. A gradual switch from diesel to electric engines will further decrease the risk of contaminating soil and water.

Fertilisers and pesticides are only applied to the greens and tees and in very limited quantities. This creates a large distance between the spraying zones and the natural reserve and bodies of water.

Community

By taking part in the regional ‘Federatie Broekpolder’ (in formation), the golf club is securely anchored in the wider society. There is plenty of use of media outlets. The club’s mentality is open. There is no recorded communication plan, but there is a report that looks back on the previous three years and looks ahead at the coming three.

The club has a professional approach to management, maintenance and upkeep and thereby creates jobs for about 40 people. All employees have a First Aid certificate and a number of them also have a certificate for Emergency Response Officer. The club is an acknowledged training company, employing 8 greenkeepers and offering 2 internship positions. The restaurant has been contracted out. The club’s activities are supported by volunteers that are organised in working groups.

The drive towards sustainability objectives pivots on the small Flora & Fauna Committee. One of its members is also a member of the course committee, creating and safeguarding direct lines of communication with the other committees. The F&F committee is in direct contact with the very competent and deeply involved head greenkeeper.
The committee knows how to get things done and asks external advisors and the Vlaardingen city ecologist to consult on specialist subjects. The committee reports its findings in evaluation reports regarding landscape and ecology, course maintenance, energy, and communication.

In the past period a lot of attention has been paid to intensifying the relationship of the course with the surrounding community. One of the F&F committee members is a member the board of the Federatie Broekpolder (in formation), which collaborates closely with the municipality, which will be responsible for the execution of the federation’s plans and recommendations. The club is also properly invested in maintaining the relationships with the water authority, the Landschapsbeheer Zuid-Holland nature conservation foundation, the Natural Monuments organisation, and with working groups of the local nature organisations. The collaboration with De Boei deserves special mention. This is a centre for people with a mental disability. The Boei among others builds the course’s nesting boxes and the club promotes the centre during special activities.
A public footpath runs from north to south, creating a passage over the course. The path is part of the hiking path in the Broekpolder recreational area, which is part of the Midden-Delfland municipality: the green buffer between the Rotterdam and The Hague urban agglomerations. Unfortunately, fences, boom barriers and cameras are necessary to prevent vandalism.

The club is aware of and pays attention to the area’s cultural history. Vital features are the old pollard willows and fruit trees that circle the former farm. Paving and course furniture have been adjusted to the surroundings.

There are currently no legal disputes or planning procedures.

The member section of the website provides access to the page of the F&F committee, membership of which is limited to prevent disturbing vulnerable species. The webpage offers remarkable sightings, pictures and activities. The club magazine provides similar information. There are plans underway to increase the attention for and member commitment to nature and environment. The annual bird watching day is a good way to broach these issues.

Besides the aforementioned contacts with the Federatie Broekpolder, most contacts with the surrounding community are of a practical nature and are mostly fuelled by communal interests. The website offers information on the GEO certificate and the cultural history of the Midden-Delfland municipality and shows the club’s commitment to nature and environment.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

Collaboration and sustainability have been integral to Golfclub Broekpolder from the start. It began with a design that was calibrated to the landscape in one of the sections for depositing sludge cleared from the port of Rotterdam. After obtaining the certificate in 2012, the main focus was on further improvements of the drainage and getting the ecological footprint under control. Initiatives have been set out and in the next three years these measures will be implemented. The club is furthermore focussed on improving the communication. Participation in the young ‘Federatie Broekpolder’ is a good start.

Certification Highlights

1
The club has solid roots in the community in a number of ways. There is a structural cooperation with nature and landscape organisations, but the initiative that really stands out is the club’s active participation in the Foundation ‘Federatie Broekpolder’ that aims to improve the quality of the Broekpolder. This citizen’s initiative brings together 23 associations and organisations that are involved in the Broekpolder recreational area. This public private societal cooperation is a pilot for the Zuid-Holland province.
The federation’s ambitions include a central park management that will allow for a focussed coordination of efforts, such as generating energy, waste processing and purchasing. Plans are developed, tested and implemented in collaboration with the municipal council.

2
The water quality is monitored frequently and intensively in close collaboration with the Hoogheemraadschap Delfland regional water authority. Despite the fact that the golf course was constructed on a dumping depot with contaminated port sludge, the water quality has attained such levels that further purification is no longer required and the water can be used directly for rewetting a neighbouring nature reserve. An additional advantage of this is that it removes the necessity to increase the capacity of the water treatment plant. A great example of a win-win situation in the water-dominated Holland region.

3
The golf course is part of the Broekpolder recreational area which forms a formidable 400 ha counterpart in Vlaardingen, as part of the expansive Rotterdam urban agglomeration. The course lies on its northern edge and creates a flowing landscape transfer to the bordering low peat lands ‘De Vlietlanden.’ The ecological cohesion, both internally and externally, is very robust.