Winners review GEA 2018

Not sure if you should enter the Golf Environment Awards? Can’t decide if your club does enough for the environment? Want to get involved, but don’t know where to start? Sometimes it’s best to hear from the people who once stood in your shoes and are now part of GEA winners’ club. Just think, next year it could be you.


Carnoustie Golf Links were awarded Environmental Golf Course of the Year for their incredible work within the local community and their continued environmentally conscious practices in all areas of golf course management. Each decision at the golf facility considers the impact on the environment and each member of staff is trained to work in such a way.

Excellent grassland management throughout the three courses at Carnoustie Golf Links
Excellent grassland management throughout the three courses at Carnoustie Golf Links

Craig Boath, Head Greenkeeper at Carnoustie Golf Links, said: “I would encourage any club to apply to be a part of The Golf Environmental Awards. It is easy to enter and if you have done enough to get through the first stage you will receive a visit from either Bob Taylor or Rowan Rumball to walk and talk through the environmental achievements that you have been up to with your club.

“The aim of the Golf Environment Awards is to recognise, reward and promote outstanding individuals and golf courses, no matter how big or small, for the time and effort they have put into protecting and preserving their unique surroundings.


Drawdown zones have been created around the ponds on Buddon Links for aquatic invertebrates
Drawdown zones have been created around the ponds on Buddon Links for aquatic invertebrates


“We have been lucky enough to be part of the finals for a few years now and it is great to meet previous as well as future winners in a relaxed atmosphere. The chance to network with other courses from around the country, who provide a positive contribution to the environment.

“The competition in our category of Environmental Golf Course of the Year was very tough and they all merited the title, but we are absolutely delighted to receive this award. It means a lot to be recognised for the great care we take to protect and enhance our natural habitat.

“This award is just another example of what our team at Carnoustie Golf Links can achieve through hard-work, enthusiasm, and investing our time into community involvement.”


Abergele Golf Club won Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year for their Tir Gwylllt (Wild Land) area. Darren Anderson, his team of greenkeeping staff and several members have created a wildlife haven from materials ready to hand or donated. The project is a remarkable example of people pulling together to create something spectacular.


Entrance to Tir Gwyllt
The entrance to Tir Gwyllt proudly displayed by handmade signage


Darren  said: “Even when we were undertaking the work on Tir Gwyllt we didn’t think we would win. Firstly it was about us building an ecology area, the awards obviously encouraged us and we were still entering even though we thought we didn’t have a chance.

“The whole idea was we wanted to improve our environmental standing and encourage ecology with the resources we had really as we didn’t have money to spend.

“When we found out we made it to the final, we were over the moon and the club directors automatically said they were going along to support the awards, however when I saw the fantastic work the other finalist had done, I warned the directors, please don’t get your hopes up.

“Walking down the corridor of the crown, we could here the fantastic jazz band, it really set the mood, then seeing everything set up just made us realise how big the awards had become. After seeing STRI’s overview of each of the other projects I felt immensely proud to be up there with them, and when it was announced we won, I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to say, apart from thank everyone from club directors to awards sponsors.


Insect hotel providing shelter for overwintering ladybirds
Simple but effective insect hotel providing shelter for overwintering ladybirds


“I’m really looking forward to the trip to Portugal, this was a real bonus as I actually forgot about it until it was mentioned on the night. I’ve heard it is a trip of a life time, I better get my note pad and camera ready.

“I would like to thank the Sophie and Bob from the STRI, Bob started me thinking about the environment many years ago with one of his talks for Golfing Union of Wales roadshow.  Sophie was fantastic on the inspections and took a real interest in not just the project but how we manage out course.

“A massive thank you to the Abergele Golf Club and all the staff for their support and enthusiasm on the subject of ecology. Lastly a huge thank you to my wife Sali who gave the name Tir Gwyllt to the ecology area, and our four-year-old son Hari as they both love coming out to see the ecology area and always give full support.”

Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year was received by Stephen Thompson of John O’Gaunt Golf Club for his passionate dedication to nature conservation within golf. Stephen has extensive biodiversity records for both courses at his club, enabling him to tailor the management of the mosaic of habitats accordingly.


Pollinator areas at John O’Gaunt Golf Club
One of many pollinator areas at John O’Gaunt Golf Club



Stephen, said: “Entering the awards was easy, just a simple form to fill in then the anticipation of waiting to hear if you have got to the next stage and receive a judges visit and a big smile when you get the letter to say your a finalist.

When I heard my name read out, my head was in my hands, I was nearly in tears, It was such an emotional occasion, I couldn’t believe I had actually won after all these years of trying. I am so passionate about conservation on the golf course, winning this award means everything to me, second only to getting married in 2017.”

Operation Pollinator was awarded to Kingsdown Golf Club where Tom Freeman had introduced extensive native wildflower areas with the help of local primary school children. Not only did this Operation Pollinator project provide for nectar and pollen loving insects, it also provided a great golf education to the younger generation.


Local school children wildflower seed sowing at Kingsdown Golf Club
Local school children getting involved with wildflower seed sowing at Kingsdown Golf Club


Tom, who is now Course Manager High Post Golf Club, said: “I am really looking forward to going to Portugal, somewhere I have never been before. I am sure I will have an amazing time there looking at what other golf courses are doing for conservation and how they manage the grass etc in a much warmer climate. Different habitats to look at, and so many more birds to look at. It will be fantastic.

I was totally surprised to win the Golf Environmental Awards for Operation Pollinator 2018, as the nominees were so strong and had achieved some great work. I was truly humbled to be in such good company on the night, that was superbly organised and super professional. The environmental awards highlight the great work many clubs are doing and I’m so proud to of been a part of it. My idea came from following the awards many years ago and being inspired by Craig Booth and his local school project, that’s why it is a great platform to inspire others to promote environmental work within their golf clubs.

Being part of the awards and meeting like-minded people has only inspired me to do more at my new club and I hope to be back in the future.”

Want to get involved with the Golf Environment Awards? Entry is easy, completely free and open to all golf clubs and courses across the UK.

To enter simply go to “Entry Form” and follow the instructions.