Bearwood Lakes Golf Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club’s sustainable working group, including its progressive and responsible owner, managing director, head greenkeeper and supportive club members, plainly demonstrate positive environmental values, attitudes and actions for more responsible and sustainable golf. Bearwood Lakes Golf Club is clearly a high quality golf course that works with and is built upon a wonderful, clean and healthy natural environment and a very high standard of environmental stewardship on the golf course, which is also recognised as a top 100 golf course of England. The recommendation of this evaluation is that the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) should once again certify Bearwood Lakes Golf Club with the GEO Certified® eco-label.
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club clearly demonstrates through on-site observations and a review of its specially commissioned, Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), ‘Ecology and Land Management Plan’, ‘Ecological Survey of a proposed Irrigation Reservoir’, ‘Tree Management Programme’ and ‘Ecological Mitigation Plan’, for example, that it is contributing to ecosystem protection and conservation and preservation of an unpolluted, strong natural environment in and around the golf course. This includes stunning open water features, such as, the 55-acre lake and important native woodland throughout the golf course. In addition, there are noteworthy wetland ponds (on the 5th and 13th holes) and reed beds (at the 13th and 14th golf holes). Further, there are significant habitat management projects that continue to naturalize the golf course and take on species conservation to support flora, fauna and biodiversity, such as, the heather management on holes, 8 and 9, and 10 and 11 of the golf course. As well, evident examples of rare, protected and notable species and indicators of environmental quality are the grass snake and common buzzard and carp, respectively. Furthermore, it is pleasing to find that earlier environmental initiatives undertaken in 2008, continue to flourish, namely, ‘Special Environmental Initiative Prize’, from the British Institute Golf GreenKeepers Association, for restoring a water feature on the golf course and pollination project, ‘Operation Bumblebee’, with the STRI and Syngenta. In addition, during the on-site visit, a small deer and fox, for example, were evident freely wandering through the golf course – further examples of the playing and non-playing environment successfully working together. The club also works with Wokingham Borough Council, Natural England and English Heritage to help manage, conserve and comply with habitat designations on the golf course. These environmental initiatives are communicated to the members via a golf course blog, twitter, newsletters, presentations, and small, discrete course signage, so that they are understood and supported. Additionally, turf grasses are optimal for the golf course, climate and location. Poa annua is the dominant grass in the greens and going forward the club has set itself a ‘sustainable and realistic target’ to have a ‘50/50 bent/poa mix’. Lolium perenne is used for the tees and Festuca rubra grasses are used for the fairways, as they are fairly hard wearing and drought tolerant species.
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club draws water from two sources. Public mains and groundwater is used in the clubhouse and golf course, respectively. From 2013 to 2016, potable water consumed in the clubhouse averaged about 3 million litres per annum. Additionally, it is pleasing to find that potable water used in the maintenance facility decreased from 365,000 to 355,000 litres (-2.7%) and groundwater used for the golf course also decreased from 25 million litres to 22.5 million litres (-10%). Bearwood Lakes Golf Club complies with its water abstraction license from the Environment Agency, which allows around 26 million litres to be drawn annually. The club has made a significant recent capital investment and undertakes several operations to reduce the amount of water used on the golf course and clubhouse. In particular, the club recently received planning permission to construct a large new reservoir. This will increase the storage of rain/runoff/reclaimed water and help maintain the water levels of the main lake in the summer months. The club has also commissioned an irrigation system evaluation, by Irritech in 2009 for the efficient and prudent use of water on the golf course. An outcome of this was the replacement of a fixed speed irrigation pump with a variable speed one. The club has also implemented a range of practices to help reduce water consumption. For example, the irrigation system is regularly serviced, upgraded and calibrated; drought tolerant fescues are used on main playing surfaces; soils and thatch are effectively managed and weather stations ensure optimal irrigation. In addition, low flow urinals and toilets; new water efficient showers and water heater have been installed in the clubhouse, for example. As well, any water leaks, if and when they do occur, are attended to and fixed as soon as they are discovered and there is water awareness signage.
Several energy sources are used at the club including natural gas, non-renewable grid, petrol and diesel. From 2013 to 2016, natural gas, increased from 24,000,000 to 31,260,000 litres (+30%). This figure is likely to decrease in the future, with the planned installation of a more energy efficient boiler. Electricity decreased from 360,000 to 267,159 kWh (-34.7%). Petrol also decreased from 12,000 to 9,350 litres (-22%). Again, it is pleasing to find these reductions in energy consumption. Diesel, more or less remained constant at around 21,000 litres/year. Hydraulic oil was at 400 litres per annum. Thus far, no formal energy surveys/audits have been undertaken and there are no renewable energy sources. To reduce energy consumption the club has introduced the following initiatives including: significant investment in LED lighting, timer switches, hybrid mowers, thermostatic controls, car sharing, support of cycling to work and hybrid cars. In addition, there is a policy to buy energy efficient appliances and solar energy and rainwater harvesting is being explored in a newly built toilet facility on the golf course.
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club evidently practices ethical and environmental procurement. This is driven through its ‘Environmental Purchasing and Policy Statement’. For example, excess food from dinner parties is given to staff, the club’s main apparel and equipment supplier are only two miles away, the kitchen has recently built, planted and manages a small herb garden, recycled railway sleepers are used on the golf course, and fertilizers are bought in bulk to reduce packaging and subsequent waste. In addition, the club purchases from accredited suppliers, where possible, to support the greening of supply chains. For example, Ransomes Jacobsen, machinery is ISO 14001 certified. The club also undertakes a range of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) activities including over seeding of fescues on fairways, roping off certain parts of the course to aid recovery, hand watering, aeration and applying a spray curative to manage fusarium. Fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides used on the golf course have remained more of less constant over the evaluation period. While, there was a 50% reduction in insecticides used over a two-year period. Actions taken to optimize pesticide use include: pest control products (e.g. Heritage and Instrata for fusarim), spot-treatment and use of organic and biological products to improve plant health and resistance (i.e. Sustain 4-6-4 for seed germination). No waste audits have thus far been conducted at the golf facility, however, the club evidently recycles glass, plastic, metals, paper and cardboard, grass clippings, cores and turf and sand and wood/timber.
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club clearly takes its responsibilities seriously regarding pollution control. Measures evidently in place to prevent and mitigate pollution risks include the following. The club has an important STRI, five-year landscape and ecology programme. There is also an environmental management programme, ePar, to help ensure compliance with environmental legislation and regulation. In addition, the club plainly collects and recycles its waste. For example, maintenance wastewater and wash pad are discharged by means of an oil separator and wash down water is recycled. Chemicals are only used when necessary and within a programme of IPM. Further, the spraying of chemicals follows accepted codes of conduct, such as, not spraying in high winds with buffer zones in place when near the several important watercourses on the golf course. Reed beds are used as bio-filers to slow and treat surface run-off. Additionally, all chemical and hazardous products are safely secured on impermeable flooring and the maintenance of equipment and mixing of chemicals is carried out on hard standing areas by properly trained staff. In an emergency, spill kits are at hand and fuels are stored correctly in above ground tanks with secondary containment areas, booms and absorbent materials. In addition, full risk assessments are in place and annually reviewed for all jobs and all staff has a work safety manual. It is also visibly evident that there is a high standard of house keeping in the maintenance facility, as it is generally, well-organised and maintained.
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club evidently works directly with the local community. For example, it educates local college students, masters’ students, golf managers and club members on environmental landscape management and conservation. It plainly engages with members on environmental stewardship matters via social media (e.g. twitter, blogs and email), signs and notices on the golf course, quarterly newsletters and regular committee meetings. The club also provides important local leisure and employment, for example, with forty-one full-time members of staff. It also supports student work placements, a weekly local business network and hosts regular charity golf day events. Furthermore, the club has good relations with environmental bodies, such as, Environment Agency and Natural England, and plainly engages in regular communication with staff and members on the environmental aspects of the facility to help embed, support and progress initiatives to continually improve its sustainability performance.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- External Surveys and Reports
- Minutes of Meetings
- Register of Accidents
Bearwood Lakes Golf Club, once again clearly demonstrates that it is committed to progress more responsible and sustainable golf. It has important environmental policies, programmes, plans and systems for ecosystem conservation and protection and environmental improvement throughout the golf facility. It is also one of the top 100 golf courses in England. The club’s strong environmental values and attitudes support further improvements in environmental performance. Thus, I highly recommend the renewal of GEO Certified® status for Bearwood Lakes Golf Club and look forward to learning about developments over the next three year period.
Effective 5-year, STRI ecology and landscape programme.
Successful environmental management programmes for continuous improvement.
Wide range of high quality environmental initiatives in the golf facility.
Important capital investment in rainwater harvesting.
Very high quality golf course in terms of playability and playing surfaces.
Significant natural habitat in support of flora and fauna and biodiversity.
Significant reductions and savings in water and energy usage.
Noteworthy efforts to recycle resources reduce waste and control and prevent pollution.