Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club
Executive summary (English & local language)
On July 18th 2016 I visited Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club. This golf club, situated in the province of Overijssel, started working towards GEO certification in 2015. After discussing the six GEO subjects, we headed out for a tour across the golf course. The golf club showed some of their ecological highlights and characteristic landscapes. The maintenance facility and kitchen were visited as well. Through this visit, I gained a good impression on their ambitions and their drive for a sustainable golf course management.
Op 18 juli 2016 bracht ik een bezoek aan Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club. Deze Overijsselse golfclub is in 2015 gestart met het GEO certificeringstraject. Na een overleg over de zes thema’s van GEO heb ik met de afvaardiging van de golfclub een ronde gemaakt over de golfbaan. De golfclub heeft hierbij enkele landschappelijke en ecologische hoogtepunten laten zien. Ook de werkloods en de keuken van het clubhuis zijn bezocht. Door dit bezoek heb ik een goed beeld gekregen van de doelstellingen en drive van de golfclub ten aanzien van duurzaam golfbaanbeheer.
Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club is situated east of Ommen, a village in the province of Overijssel near the river Overijsselse Vecht. The terrain of the golf course was partially constructed on both agricultural fields and production woodlands.
A relatively large area of the golf course is covered in dense woodlands. Also, the golf course has heathland, open sands and several water features.
During the past years, the golf club started to reduce the percentage of coniferous woods in favour of more deciduous woodland by specific forest management. This management caused the occurrence of black cherry and blackberries. The ambition to reduce the percentage coniferous tree species from 80% to 60% is part of the forest policy plan, and will allow more room for deciduous tree species.
It is important that the next three years, the golf club will invest in broadening their knowledge on the flora and fauna that are present on the golf course, that they will develop a maintenance plan for the natural elements and will look into the possibilities for reducing the area of intensively managed grassland.
The ambitions of the provincial natural management plan can be included in this new plan.
The historical content of the golf course is considered not to be very high. The fact that the area has been covered in open sands and heathlands in the past (until approximately 1930), however, provides opportunities for developing natural values. Old shifting sand areas could be used to increase the appeal of the golf course and the natural values.
The buildings and parking area have been included in the landscape very well. The club house is
remarkably well included, since it has a green sedum roof.
The holes are seeded with drought and plague resistant grasses. Red fescue and bent grasses are stimulated and more present than other species.
The fact that almost all woods are connected, makes this golf course a good habitat for birds. Also, the golf course is part of the Dutch national network of nature. This secures the natural connections to the outside and inside of the golf course.
The golf club uses ground water to irrigate the golf course. Greens, tees and fairways are irrigated automatically. This water is pumped up by two separate pumps. One of these pumps distributes the water through the golf course to irrigate the holes. Whenever there is a surplus of water in the irrigation system, one of the pumps will discharge this surplus to the water feature near hole 7.
In the club house and driving range building only potable water is used. The greenkeeper facility also uses ground water to clean the machines.
All equipment in the club house is modern and efficient. The possibilities to further reduce the use of potable water will be monitored the following years.
The amount of irrigation water used was estimated, since there is no separate water meter for the irrigation system. A requirement for the next certification will be to install a separate meter or to think of a good method to calculate a more precise usage number.
The irrigation system is susceptible for errors. This will lead to management risks (damage of the turf grass by drought) and spillage of water by leakages. The policy of the golf club states a high tolerance for discoloration of the turf grass as a result of drought. This means irrigation is only done when there should be a risk of damaging the preferred species of grass.
The golf club uses wetting agents to increase the effect of irrigation.
Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club has made several adjustments to reduce the consumption of regular energy. The club has placed two solar boilers and a heat pump. Also, the lighting in the building is slowly transitioned from regular lighting to LED lighting.
Judging the use of energy proved to be not as easy as the club had thought, since they approached several different suppliers and types of meters. By researching this, the club has a better understanding of the current situation and wishes to continue their monitoring from 2017 onward to decide on the preferable numbers of energy usage.
The golf club monitors and registers the usage numbers annually and has executed an energy saving audit. Through this, several measures have been taken to reduce the amount of energy usage.
During the renovation of the club house, the golf club has placed two solar boilers and a heat pump. This provides the club with local generated energy. The energy that the golf club purchases for the club house and maintenance facility, comes from a green certified supplier.
The construction of a green roof and the solar boilers has already reduced the amount of natural gas used in the club house. Also, in sparingly used rooms, motion sensors have been placed and old lighting and kitchen equipment is replaced by more efficient equipment.
The golf club has concluded that the possibilities for making the supply chain more sustainable, are limited. The most important cause of this, is that both the restaurant and the course maintenance are in hands of contractors. This resulted in the ambition of the golf club to make further details on the purchasing policies whenever a contract is to be renewed.
The contractor for the course maintenance already focusses on purchasing products with a responsible background and certification, evidence that an informal ethical supply chain policy is in operation at the club.
Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club has the ambition to develop a more formal purchasing policy that informs suppliers and contractors on the ambitions the club has in regard to purchasing sustainably. When renewing contracts with contractors and suppliers, this policy will be an important document.
Most purchases are made locally, since the golf club wishes to engage in the local businesses.
The golf club uses an extensive maintenance plan for the holes to keep the turf grass in good shape and meets the wishes of the golfer. Reducing stress levels and stimulating the growth of the roots is an important part of this plan.
The green keeping keeps researching the best products to use, whether it is fertilization or plant protection products.
A major part of the grass clippings is not collected, but left on the fairways and semi-roughs as a way of fertilization. Clippings from the greens are collected and spread out in the woodlands. This is not a preferable situation: not from a law perspective, but also because the grass clippings will result in a soil too rich with weeds. A priority over the next years to maintain certification will be to introduce a permanent storage solution for grass clippings which avoids localised over-fertilization and minimises risks to groundwater.
Other green waste is collected and removed annually for reuse as a fertilizer source by an agricultural enterprise near the golf course.
No infringements of the Dutch law on environmental care have been noticed during the visit. According to Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club all accommodations meet the legal requirements.
An analysis of the water quality is done each year. No pollutions have been measured in this quality monitoring.
The accommodations are connected to the main sewer system. The oil and lubricant collection pans are emptied and cleaned in time. The washing pad is constructed in a way to allow effluent water to discharge the correct way.
The use of hazardous materials is prevented as much as possible. When needed, however, the green keeping works according to the guidelines of the Dutch law on environmental care (when using diesel, petrol, or oil).
All personnel that has a part in maintaining the golf course, is included in the golf club’s emergency plan. Prevention of soil and water pollution are included in this plan.
The green keeping only uses accredited products and only when manual maintenance has no to little effect.
Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club has enthusiastic members, there are many volunteers that help around the golf course.
The golf club wishes to improve the communication about sustainability, environmental care and nature during the next years. They also wish to secure the ambitions on nature and landscape, so that the next generation of members can use these ambitions as a guideline.
A major part of all activities on the golf course have been put out under contract at several contractors. Only 1,9 FTE is employed by the golf club itself. Aside from the employees at the club, the golf club has insight in the employees under the contractors. The employees of the club take part in annual refresher courses for in-house emergency and safety and learn how to work with an AED. Schooling of the employees under the contractors is done by their employers. The golf club keeps track on the different certificates, only trained personnel may work at the golf course.
The sustainability working group consists of 5 members. The working group includes a member of the course committee who acts as a consultant for the working group. The vice-chairman of the club board acts as the contact person for the board. The working group is responsible for the certification program and is involved in most of the projects for sustainability on the golf course.
There are no cultural or historical elements present on the golf course. Also, no alternative use of the terrain takes place. The golf club wishes to involve local environmental organizations more.
There have been no juridical disputes
The internal communication has been most important to get to this point in the certification process. On all layers of the club’s management there have been actions to improve the awareness. This has led to a new policy in which sustainability is a major point of attention. For the members, the opening match of the season in 2016 was themed with sustainability. By taking a quiz the awareness was increased.
The golf club uses the website and the public golf days (national event) to communicate about the golf club. They wish to expand this communication during the next years and to become a regular in the community of Ommen.
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
I strongly suggest Hooge Graven Golf & Country Club to be awarded with the GEO certificate for sustainable golf course management.
- A strong integration of the golf course in the surrounding landscape and the national nature network;
- The club is self-proficient in a major part of the energy usage, by the presence of two solar boilers and heat pump;
- The club has a pro-active approach on improving the purchasing policy and registration of the irrigation usage numbers for the next years.