Woburn Golf Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
Woburn Golf Club is situated around 3 miles south east of Milton Keynes, on the Bedford estate which has a range of commercial activities including Woburn safari park commercial forestry and of course the golf club.
Woburn Golf Club comprises the Dukes and Duchess courses that were originally developed in the 1970s with the Marquess course added in 2000. The nature and size of the golf course area has allowed 3 tree-lined courses providing different challenges with the original courses requiring pinpoint accuracy from both tee and approach shots into relatively small and well protected greens. The Marquess course is longer with larger greens however the design still requires accuracy from tee to green to prevent being blocked out for your approach shot.
The tournament credentials of Woburn Golf Club have been of more than adequately demonstrated following the hosting of the various professional tournaments over the last three years.
The clubhouse has been extended over the years together with significant upgrades to improve building efficiency and reduce operational costs. This has resulted in a substantial clubhouse providing a combination of more than open atrium style reception area together with a smaller more intimate meeting rooms and restaurants creating a flexibility allowing the club to accommodate a range of different functions in terms of purpose and size.
The 245 hectares on which Woburn is situated provide many predominantly woodland habitats which are links to the wider Bedford estate and beyond. There are still the remains of the previous commercial pine plantations together with a range of broadleaf species including beech, sweet chestnut, and oak and self-set silver birch.
The predominantly sandy subsoil provides habitats for some heath-land species including heather and gorse, with some areas of the site bordered with hedgerows that also provide harbourage for a significant number of different species.
Woburn continues to implement the woodland management plans provided through consultancy indicated in the 2013 report including the thinning and pass clearance of the understorey to encourage the growth and floral diversity. The club has also undertaken a significant tree planting programme which will be continuing over the next three years to encourage native tree stocks across the site.
Ecology and biodiversity consultancy undertaken prior to initial certification continue to be implemented and further search consultancy will be taken from Bedfordshire wildlife trusts to assist with specific programmes to enhance and encourage regeneration of the heat and of course and in certain areas of the site.
Woburn does not have any statutory designations but as indicated in the 2013 certification report the site is noted as a priority habitat under the deciduous Woodland Biodiversity Action Plan and is noted on the National Inventory of Trees (England).
The site also falls within an area identified by the RSPB bird conservation targeting project as potentially important to Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava).
The turf grass species remained predominantly a mix of annual meadow grass and perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne) with some common browntop (Agrostis tenuis) on the greens. The tournament play has resulted in the management encouraging a mix of Poa annua and Agrostis tenuis on the greens to meet the playing characteristics required by European Tour and The Open Championship Committee.
It is pleasing to see that the club have continued their work to encourage biodiversity with several existing projects together with the introduction of new initiatives. The reservoir project completed prior to 2013 has resulted in significant reductions in water demand from external suppliers and the provision for a wildflower meadow and as part of the reservoir development has been implemented.
Woodland areas have been sympathetically thinned to reduce competition between the tree stock and providing the additional benefit of regeneration of the understorey in several locations across the three courses. There are numerous progressive management techniques including that of managed decline for dead trees reducing the branches to prevent the possibility of injury to players and patrons was leaving the trunk at a height of four metres plus to provide harbourage for insects, fungi and perching points for birds of prey. The availability wood from of the training program has allowed the club to increase the number of wood piles and the identification of several sites for the installation of nest boxes.
The club has also identified the areas where they are reintroducing gorse and heather to establish the heathland aspect that certainly was more prevalent historically.
Most water consumption on-site is taken up by irrigation for the three courses, with a significant quantity of water used for the substantial clubhouse facilities that host numerous golf tournaments and events throughout the year.
The club has undertaken in numerous activities to reduce its consumption and to make more efficient use of the water consumed and to diversify its sources of supply. This programme is ongoing and has resulted in irrigation being largely self-sufficient using the reservoir and borehole.
The Clubhouse has also been through a process of upgrades and to the changing rooms and wash room facilities as part of the planned maintenance and capital expenditure programme.
Potable clubhouse supply has shown a variation in-line with clubhouse use and with the fall in consumption largely resulting in the upgrades to washrooms including low flush, PiR urinal flush systems and low flow taps and showerheads.
The potable clubhouse consumption has remained in line with patronage however there would appear to be a reduction in consumption resulting in the upgrades across the remainder of the facility.
The installation of the reservoir in 2013 has significantly reduced be external requirement for water supply with a reservoir being filled through a combination of rainwater and a borehole sources. The results over the period under review is a self-sufficiency in terms of irrigation supply and a significant reduction in of the costs associated with the previous potable supply leading to a relatively short payback period on the capital expenditure involved in the creation of the reservoir.
Woburn continues to employ the same irrigation manager who has sole responsibility for water use and monitoring across the entire site. The computerised irrigation system linked to a year telemetry moisture management system ensures that irrigation is provided at an optimum level.
The infrastructure is maintained on a regular basis and operated as required and in line with best available technology.
Having updated and upgraded the clubhouse facilities, and also installed irrigation lake, the club are now reviewing alternatives to identify and achieve incremental increases in efficiency through awareness and alternative supplies.
Rainwater harvesting systems remain the possibility and an area to the rear of the main clubhouse has been identified as a possible site to store harvested rainwater from the club house roof. Discussions are ongoing however the management are optimistic that the project will gain approval in the relatively short term.
The built environment elements at Woburn predominantly use mains gas for heating together with grid electricity for lighting and cooling purposes, although the grid electricity is supplemented by an onsite solar array providing approximately 5000 kWh per year.
Woburn has a significant element of its turnover generated through hospitality and the resulting facilities require a significant energy consumption on cooling for the food freezers fridges and bottle coolers. There was an increase from 2012 to 2013 electrical consumption due to clubhouse refurbishment and extension. The consumption through 2014 and 2015 have showed a reduction in electrical use through continued upgrades.
The design of the building has assisted to reduce the consumption through lighting with an imaginative entrance lobby taking advantage of the natural light through the use of skylights creating a light airy and welcoming first impression of the clubhouse. Extensions to the existing building have always benefited from the latest available technology to help them run as efficiently as possible Including the use of led lighting. The lighting upgrades to led have now largely been completed across the clubhouse with the last few strip lights to the changed over from the existing T5 fluorescent light strips.
The heating system is a gas fired circulating water system that is serviced regularly to ensure efficient operation. Possible alternatives and upgrades for the heating system are under consideration and it may well be possible to provide some benefits from the installation of an aftermarket boiler control system or even preheat the water using a solar thermal system.
The installation of a lease solar array on the main clubhouse roof is the first along the line of diversifying energy supply to sustainable sources. Consideration is being given to the possibility of installing other sustainable technologies together with a review of the renewable energy supply market to switch to a green energy supplier.
In addition to the work already undertaken by to introduce best available technology and the possible switch to a green energy supplier Woburn has been working to increase awareness of energy consumption amongst both staff and patrons
Woburn continues to work with their suppliers to reduce environmental impact wherever possible. The work they had undertaken in the period up to initial certification has been continued, using local suppliers where possible together with reducing the number of deliveries through consolidation.
The club are continuing their policy of developing a supplier network with companies and individuals that share the environmental ambitions shown by the club. This process of review and collaboration is continuing with the aim of reducing the number of deliveries, reducing the waste and encouraging greater environmental responsibility in their supply partners.
The remote location of Woburn continues to be challenging in terms of the declaration of figures with regards to proximity of suppliers. As part of their adopted purchasing policy the club is focusing on trying to increase their local supplier network however this has been more successful with the food and beverage and service sectors. The process is ongoing and Woburn golf club are continuing to monitor their supply base in respect of identifying potential new suppliers to improve and enhance the economic multiplier effect.
The Turf grass inputs declared in the current period under review continue to indicate a closely managed programme identifying potential areas that may be under threat from pests and diseases. Historic data is maintained to help identify areas that have suffered in previous years and enhanced management techniques are implemented to reduce the pressures on these areas.
Woburn continues to work to reduce its waste-to-landfill through a number of initiatives, however the most innovative is the development of the small practice area created through the thinning the of the plantation Woodland and the recycling of cores extracted from the greens during general maintenance. The resulting practice area was developed and in use within six months providing a practice green with the same playing characteristics as the main courses.
The most obvious addition to the clubhouse facilities is the installation of separate recycling bins to increase waste separation at source to prevent commingling and contamination. In addition to this improvement in the quality of waste, which will reduce the amount to landfill, the result has been to enhance and increase staff awareness and galvanise that awareness into action.
As indicated in the 2013 certification report Woburn's benefits remain sewage and drainage for the clubhouse and maintenance facilities with on-course drainage systems using soak-aways at the low points across the site.
The free draining nature of the soil requires careful monitoring and management of the spray operations, also the maintenance of the bunding in and around the maintenance area where significant quantities of fuels and oils are stored.
Woburn continues the testing regime with monthly checks on chemical and biological quality and visual assessments undertaken a weekly.
The clubhouse and maintenance facility are both connected to the mains sewerage network with car park and building rainwater run-off being channelled to soak-aways.
The chemical and fuel storage at Woburn's maintenance facility are securely stored in bunded areas with stock lists maintained and limited access to ensure identifiable staff responsibility for care and maintenance.
Safety data sheets and COSHH assessments are maintained and updated with the management are being overseen by nominated spray specialists and oversight provided by the health and safety and administration staff.
Due to the size and scope of the facilities at Woburn there is a requirement to store a significant amount of fuel, both diesel and petrol. The storage tanks are cited underground but they do have a remote monitoring system with daily checks to ensure that any potential leaks are identified as soon as possible. Records of fuel stocks are maintained together with spill kits and fire-fighting equipment on which staff training is provided in line with the requirements of the environment agency who regularly inspect the site.
Spill kits and wash facilities are provided and are strategically located and the incident response plan is reviewed periodically together with staff training to ensure a detailed knowledge of the actions to be taken in the event of an incident.
Isolated drainage pads are utilised for fuel storage and wash-down areas located at the maintenance area. The water from the wash down areas is treated through a biological system to digest any hydrocarbons and the kitchen uses a bunded storage for used cooking oil prior to collection. A registered waste contractor collects, transports and disposes of the waste vegetable and mineral oils in line with current legislation.
It is standard practice for Woburn to operate buffer zones in and around sensitive areas and to review prevailing weather conditions to ensure that drift is minimised. Increasing emphasis is being placed on spot treatment and physical interventions in an effort to reduce the need and level of spraying of pesticide across the site.
The club provides several important facilities for local businesses and residents including the clubhouse facility for a range of charity and business meeting events together with footpaths and bridleways creating significant amenity for residents in the local area.
Woburn provides a substantial employment centre including various full and part time positioned in the catering and hospitality sectors but also engaged in the management of the general facilities as well as course and equipment. The nature of the business results in a split between full-time, part-time and some seasonal staff cover the various requirements and seasonal peaks in activity which is the norm for the golf sector.
The club has a sustainability working group which reviews operations across the club. Evidence of their activity can be seen in a number of areas of operations since the previous certification in 2013.
The club continue to host a range of different meetings and activities for local business and community. One of the most successful has been the junior golf initiative run in conjunction with the Professional golfers’ an encouraging young golfers’ through initiatives partnered by local schools. The result has led to many new memberships underlining the important relationship between the golf industry and local communities.
As indicated in the 2013 report the course is part of the Duke of Bedford estate and as such the wider estate undertakes of various commercial enterprises including the safari park, golf and areas of commercial forestry. Part of the cultural heritage for the site clearly relates to the historic management and ownership of the estate and its title including the main house.
Meeting records and newsletters are provided regularly for staff relating to discussions on resource efficiency and waste minimisation.
The club uses a combination of website, newsletters and notice boards to advise patrons on the current environmental position and future plans for the club.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
- Minutes of Meetings
- Training Log
Woburn Golf Club has comprehensively shown its commitment to improving environmental performance through a range of new sustainability initiatives and programmes designed to improve all areas of their operation.
It is unsurprising given the historic content and ownership of the estate that the overarching consideration from the highest level of management and ownership is to achieve the sympathetic management of the site. The club and its management has certainly demonstrated that this sympathetic management style can be achieved whilst still providing the playing facility that is challenging to club golfers as well as the best professional golfers in the world.
They continued programme of management and enhancement to minimise their impacts on the environment across course, built environment and waste has shown real results and will no doubt continue to do so in the coming years.
I am very happy to recommend that Woburn Golf Club's certification should be renewed for the coming three years and I look forward to seeing their progress in 2019.
There are two main highlight amongst the excellent work conducted by the club over the last three years; the practice facility developed from the hollow-tine cores has created a world class practice facility that was developed in a very few months providing a playing surface identical to that on the main course.
The waste separation bins are possibly less eye catching however they had to underlined the club’s commitment to improving and their waste separation and, possibly more importantly, providing a very visual prompt to help engage staff and patrons to follow this important lead.