Highlights: GEA winners trip to the Algarve

We take a sneaky peak into Bob Taylor‘s diary after the 2019 Golf Environment Award winners return from their trip of a lifetime to visit sustainable golf facilities in the Algarve.

GEA winners at Palmares Golf Club with Bob Taylor (STRI), Ryun Holden (Golfclub Wylihof), Duncan Brown (Corhampton Golf Club), Mark Broughton (Aldeburgh Golf Club), Joel Nunes (Onyria Palmares), Phil Stain (Notts Golf Club) and Rowan Rumball (STRI).

Day One: Espiche Golf and Onyria Palmares

Water is limited and in fact hardly any rain had fallen between January to March in Portugal so water conservation is at the forefront of all golf clubs thinking.

Golf clubs like Espiche have worked for many years to fully evaluate and understand the underground water environment. They have secured ground radar penetration methods to develop 3D models of the subterranean aquifers that are now being used to supply the golf clubs irrigation requirements.

Integral with this is the understanding of best practice to ensure no net leaching from fertilisers or other chemicals into the groundwater as this would clearly have a significant adverse impact on the entire ecohydrology and ecology of the area.

A visit to Onyria Palmares provided a real insight into how the club is working to reduce energy, waste and water and some quite novel but insightful approaches are being employed here.

The club has worked to reduce the speed of the motors, which in turn reduces the overall pressure. This has had the dual benefit of cutting energy costs quite significantly and at the same time reducing the fine spray that so often never reaches its target.

The team at Palmares has also been working hard to understand the concept of residual energy by using inbuilt capacitors to ensure full use of the electricity supplied. This again is ensuring additional cost benefits.

Day Two: San Lorenzo Golf Course and Ombria Resort

One of the older courses on the Algarve is the famous San Lorenzo club set within the Quinta de Largo complex. The course, managed by Antonio Santos, is one of extreme beauty that is overflowing with rare and endangered wildlife.

The lakes created by the club are not only of importance to the playing of the holes, in particular the 17th and 18th, but they provide much needed and very important stop off points for birds migrating northwards.

Here rare species such as purple gallinule, red crested pochard and occasionally bluethroat can all be seen.

During this trip we also visited the Ombria Resort which is a new build and it has taken many years to complete the Environmental Studies that are now guiding the development.

This course when completed will in part follow a river complex and all effort has been given to mitigating against potential pollution.

Day Three: Monte Rei Golf & Country Club

Our last day was spent at Monte Rei Golf Club to the east of the Algarve close to the Spanish Border any golfer turning up at Monte Rei would benefit from a bespoke and quality experience from dropping off the clubs to ending the round.

Each hole has been fitted impeccably within the montane vegetation to ensure a secluded and isolated effect. The course although highly manicured (at least in part) by the 17 full time staff fits seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.

The diversity of wildlife is clear and as stated by the course superintendent, the environment is not just important but critical to the ongoing success of the golf at Monte Rei. This is something that all golf clubs need to recognise; the environment in which golf is played is key to any golfers enjoyment, consciously or subliminally.

Wildlife can be conserved through directed or targeted golf course management, and all efforts will help to ensure golf as an industry is viewed in a positive light.

Golf Environment Awards (GEA) 2020

Roll on GEA 2020 and good luck to all. Please start submitting your entries as soon as possible and don’t forget this year a step-up award will be provided through your home union. This is being launched to help aspiring clubs join the environmental movement with smaller scale initiatives and or projects.

Click here to fill out your application online, or contact me on TwitterLinkedIn or Instagram for more info on how to apply.