Golf Puyenbroeck

GEO Certified® 09/2012 GEO Re-Certified 04/2016
Wachtebeke,
Belgium
Telephone: +32 9 342 42 83
Puyenbroeckpic__original

Executive summary (English & local language)

Golf Puyenbroeck is a part of the public recreation park situated in Wachtebeke (East-Flanders). The recreational park dates back from 1969. At that time the current golf area was used as hay meadow for the animals in the park. In May 2004 the training grounds of the golf school were opened and at the end of 2005 the current 9 holes were taken into play. Golf Puyenbroeck is the only public golf course in Flanders. It has a surface of 57 ha of which 24 ha are managed as nature and another 13 ha is managed as type of rough around the holes. Being part of a public domain also results in an example function, so that energy and water savings, sorting waste, development of a nature/woodland management plan are all common practices. Also a pesticide reduction program, sustainable criteria for buying goods are common practices. Public procedures in combination with monitoring and support by external specialists gives a guarantee for further sustainable developments in the future. Results and actions are regularly communicated to the public so that everyone can see how golf and nature can easily co-exist, even in a public that aims to make golf easily accessible for everybody by developing and safeguarding the botanical and faunal wealth typical for this type of wet valley areas.
Recommendations of the previous audit have been implemented, resulting in a better management of water consumption, reduction of energy consumption, and improved natural environment.

Nature

Golf Puyenbroeck is situated in the provincial recreation park Puyenbroeck in Wachtebeke, in East-Flandres. The recreation area is part of a valley called the Moervaartdepressie. The golf itself is integrated in the original landscape existing of hay lands and lines of Poplars and willows. The golf is nearly completely surrounded by green zones formed by ditches lined with trees (poplars and ash) or (re)planted coppice woodland (mainly black alder) mixed with natural grasslands that are reclaimed by the original plants for the area. These, often typical wet, vegetations harbor a lot of specific birds, insects, amphibians, that find here a habitat. On the borders of some holes none regional trees have been planted. The ponds are connected to fishing zones and contains identified fish including large carps. These limit the development of a specific underwater vegetations and so develop into a more natural system. The ditches however develop in a natural way and make an ideal habitat for a lot of water bound species.

The golf has a management plan for the green areas and even a specific for the avenue trees in the park.
Currently no specific further actions are taken, but a stand still is maintained, based on the plans to extend the golf course to 18 holes.

Rabbits are pest animals, but during daily inspection by the greenkeeper damage is repaired instead of eliminating them as was done in the past (with ferrets).

When trees, such as poplars, have to be cut because of age or risk for the visitors, they are replaced with local tree species

The golf has a large diversity of well-managed habitats such as wetlands and temporary wet areas formed by ditches and ponds, grassland, shrubs and woodland.

Three practice holes have been added to the facility, with an artificial grass cover in the tee zone, to keep this area playable.

Turf management is based on analyses of the soil and an external consultant is advising them. This helps to maintain a good turf grass quality with a limited usage of fertilizers in combination with the most suitable technical turf maintenance measures.

The golf club manages the bank of a pond so it stays a good resting/feeding area for wader birds. Because of measures taken, and now maintained, a stable population of the "Silver-washed fritillary" butterfly has developed. Sporadic monitoring of the butterflies shows that the management efforts helped the regular butterflies, as higher numbers are counted, but the rarer, specialized butterflies, did not increase.

Dead hedges (linear woody branches and shrubs from green waste material) have been created so that all types of mammals find a place to hide, including ermines and weasels.

Water

Golf Puyenbroeck uses groundwater (from pond) rainwater and drinking water. A water balance covering the water consumption shows the consumption of the different water sources. Water saving measures have been implemented including the usage of rainwater, water saving devices in showers and most toilets. Measures to minimize the water consumption for ball washing were taken by installing an automatic rainwater supply system. This in combination with a good maintenance of the irrigation system minimizes water losses.

They have analyzed the water consumption of the different water consuming units, (as was recommended during the previous audit) and several additional water meters have been installed to better map the water consumption as now is pointed out in a flow-chart.
The ball washing machine is now connected to the rainwater supply of the clubhouse, so that only when the storage tanks are empty drinking water is used. However the rainwater of the hangar is not used and all the rainwater is diverted via the overflow to the ponds.

Apart from technical measures, wetting agent is used on tees/greens to help grasses to penetrate the soil deeper so that less water has to be used for irrigation.

Irrigation is only applied on the putting green by a calibrated sprinkle installation and further only the tees and greens are sprinkled during night when necessary. This irrigation system is computer driven.

Continue metering the water consumption separately to evaluate water saving measures.

They are exemplary on this field. They use only waters from the pond, but in Flanders ponds that are not sealed off from the surrounding soil (liners, concrete,….) are seen as an open groundwater well because of direct connections with aquifers.
They introduced rainwater usage for sanitary and ball washing as well as for the vehicles.

Energy

Electricity and natural gas are the major energy sources. The electricity is supplied by a company that guarantees that the electricity is 100% green and coming from renewable sources. Photovoltaic panels are also helping to produce environmental friendly electricity. The wind mills for electricity were from an outside company, that decided these were not economic and removed them last year.
Measures have been taken to insulate the thermal bridges that were present in the club house, so reducing the energy consumption for heating the club house.
The gasoil buggies were replaced by electrical ones. The buggies are not for general use on the course, only people that are less mobile are allowed to use them. This also limited the consumption of energy.
The maintenance machines of the club and those of the green-maintenance contractor run on gasoline, that is stored in a tank with double walls.
Golf is accessible by public transport and this is promoted by the club.

As the golf club registers all energy consumption according to a provincial system, the carbon foot print based on the energy consumption could easily be calculated, however developing the total carbon production of the whole golf course proved to be more complicated than expected, as discovered the students that took this challenge as their graduation project.
A heating/cooling device containing a forbidden coolant was decommissioned. A new heating system for the club house using natural gas, has been installed.
In the hangar the night temperature has been decreased with some degrees, by adapting the control device with a resulting 136% reduction in energy consumption the past year.
The short mown grass is maintained by a contractor. The rest of the surface is maintained by own employees. They switched completely to battery powerd tools. This is more environmentally friendly (no exhaust fumes) and hardly any noise.

They produce part of the consumed electricity by photovoltaic panels.

Measures have been taken to insulate the thermal bridges that were present in the club house, so reducing the energy consumption for heating the club house.

Supply Chain

Golf Puyenbroeck’s purchases are integrated in the provincial authorities’ general purchase system. This also means that general materials are purchased via the province’s central purchasing department. Only golf specific purchases and services are initiated by the golf club. They have to take into account specific criteria such as WES (Wellbeing, Environment and Sustainability) and according the general rules as specified in the law on public tenders.This means that for several product only sustainable products with ecolabels, PEFC-label or FSC labeled wood, blue angel labled (or similar ecolabel) for paper, is purchased. The specific golf oriented suppliers and the distance to the site are listed, but are no selection criteria to exclude tenderers in public purchases. Waste is sorted and selectively collected by an external company as part of the complete recreational complex. A closed waste street exists for dangerous and toxic waste.
Currently the golf club is installing new waste bins on the course to selectively collect the waste.

No real waste audit has been done yet, but waste is monitored (quantities) and the need for an extensive audit is not a priority due to the province's policies. Several initiatives have been already implemented to reduce waste. It is a general policy of the provincial authorities and as such reflected in the purchase of certain products. Where relevant large volume packings are used when this means less packing materials (e.g paper in box of 2500 sheets, instead of a box with 5 times a pack of 5000 sheets to save the packing. Grass clippings are used for mulching.


All uses of fertilizers and pesticides are registered in a logbook.

Choice of products is made by the provincial centre that selects the most efficient and environmental friendly (biological where possible).

Only a very limited stock was present at the site during the visit. Products are only used curatively.

As Golf Puyenbroeck’s purchases are integrated in the provincial authorities’ general purchase system, they have to choose for the best offer. As this is mainly price based, transport and additional environmental burden (as additional packing materials etc). are not taken into account by comparing offers. But as this is a general provincial system the golf has little influence on this procedure.

Quantities of fertilizers and herbicides are monitored. By selecting grasses similar to those found in the larger environment, in combination with optimal greenkeeping of the turf and soil management, the need for adding products is minimal. Only the short mown grass areas need additional fertilizing. The selection of pesticides is done in cooperation with the provincial knowledge center for pesticides and are only used curatively and when other methods do not achieve the desired result. Alternative methods are used to prevent infestation (such as dew brushing). Herbicides are only used when really needed to restore a good turf quality and to prevent too much interference with the golf play. (this could be seen by the presence of certain plants).

Grass clippings are used for mulching.

Pollution Control

The club has all required permits as part of the general environmental permit for the complete recreational Puyenbroeck site.

The surface water is controlled twice a year by the provincial laboratory.
Apart from monitoring the water quality, applications of products to the turf is done with respecting a buffer area along the water surfaces to minimize the risk products would end up in the water.

The waste water systems are connected to the public sewer system.
The zone for washing the vehicles is connected via a sludge trap and hydrocarbon separator.
The waste collection zone is also connected via a sludge trap.

All pesticides are kept into a specific cabin that is kept locked and only authorized people have a key.

The maintenance hangar has a concrete floor. The hangar is organized via lined off zones to keep it tidy and well organized.
Certain dangerous liquids (specific fuel eg) is stored, as legally required, on a secondary containment.

When spills should occur, absorption material is present as a special container to put the used materials in.
A general procedure for contractors in case of emergency is included in the contract. It is not controlled whether the workers from the contractors know these procedures.

Pesticides are only used when no other natural measures can be implemented.
The 7 ha of the driving range are no longer fertilized

Community

Golf Puyenbroeck is part of the provincial authorities of East-Flanders. This means that all data are registered according the general procedures and management is therefore at a consistently good level. This includes staff overview, procedures to evaluate the people including needed trainings. All trainings are also registered in this central file. All profiles include specific WES criteria related to the job.

The golf club has facilities for people wanting to walk, bike and some integrated recreational routes that cover the entire park and pass also the golf. When relevant the golf communicates trough the public channels of the province.

When soil related issues need to be performed this is discussed in a consultancy round including several departmental specialists.

Some guided walks are organized that are announced via the website of the golf and province, as well as the provincial newsletters.

The golf has an internal audit team (Ecolabel Golf & Environment) and an environmental work group that includes external specialist (other authorities, nature organizations…) and volunteers.

Because of the isolated location, there is no close connection with the local community of Wachtebeke. However when the possibilities are offered the golf will try to link with the local community. So the golf club participated in the communal environmental contest offering the prize money that will be used to get the local community inhabitants to visit the golf club.

Golf Puyenbroeck is part of the provincial recreation park Puyenbroeck and is part of a valley called the "Moervaartdepressie". The golf itself is integrated in the original landscape existing of hay lands and lines of Poplars and willows.

Golf related activities, also environmental issues, are communicated to the vistors via newsletter and billboard in the clubhouse.

As typical for a provincial authority, external communication has to follow certain procedures, so only specific environmental communication has been communicated in the past (linked mainly with the Flemish golf federation environmental rewarding system ) and obtaining the GEO certificate will also be communicated to the public

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

Based on the found evidence about the efforts that have been taken to implement earlier made suggestions for improvement, it is recommended to prolong the GEO status of this course.

As nearly all fields of environmental concern are covered or by the provincial procedures, or by initiative taken by the people (provincial officials) involved in managing the club, the environmental and sustainable efforts can certainly be described as exemplary for many other golf clubs.

Certification Highlights

Well managed and documented based on clear structures and external influence.
Good awareness of environmental issues and possibilities to adapt ongoing.
Pioneering to implement measuring tools (e.g. with developing a carbon footprint)