We are delighted to announce the winners of the Golf Environment Awards 2022 which were announced on Wednesday 23rd March at the awards ceremony in The Crown Hotel, Harrogate, West Yorkshire. We had an amazing number of entries this year which made the competition much harder and the judging much more challenging. However, it is extremely positive that so many golf clubs are working hard to create havens for nature and reduce their impact on the environment in a multitude of ways.
As my first Golf Environment Awards, I was blown away by the hard work that golf clubs all over the world are doing to increase the ecological value and sustainability of their golf course. This was especially impressive since we have been in a pandemic for 2 years which understandably has had severe impacts on many businesses. It was so great after the past couple of years that we could all come together in person to celebrate each other’s achievements and be inspired by each other’s work.
This year we chose to anonymise all applications before judging and then placed them into categories. We had six finalists in each award category rather than our usual four, which was due to the large number of entries and to give more clubs the opportunity of being chosen as a winner. We visited all the finalists, which reached from Cornwall to northern Scotland. There were many international entries with four of those getting into the final, which we visited virtually.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the golf clubs that applied and all our sponsors who without their support and generosity, the Golf Environment Awards couldn’t happen. Now, if you haven’t already heard we have some fantastic winners to announce…
The winner of Operation Pollinator 2022 is… Newquay Golf Club! Congratulations!
Newquay Golf Club on the coast of Cornwall, which is managed by head greenkeeper Dan Kendle, were a well-deserved winner of Operation Pollinator 2022. After purchasing a flail collector in Autumn 2020, Newquay Golf Club were able to put an Ecological Rough Management Plan in place. In areas that were cut and scarified the club have seen a huge increase in wildflower populations including species of cranesbill, orchids, scabious, and knapweed.
The club also planted a mixture of coastal native flower seeds, as these were most similar to the species already present. Dan noticed an increase in pollinator species too such as the Dark Green Fritillary Butterfly and Six-spot Burnet Moth. All wildlife species are recorded and photographed to monitor their presence on the course.
Sand bunkers are left, to allow suitable habitats for mining bees with Sandpit Mining Bees and Sandpit Blood Bees both being recorded on the course. As their logo suggests, Newquay Golf Course provides suitable areas for birds to forage too such as the Chough, Raven and Curlew.
It’s great to physically see the benefits of the work that Newquay Golf Club have put in by seeing the increase in beautiful pollinators and wildflowers! Brilliant work from Dan and his team! We are very grateful for Syngenta who kindly sponsor the Operation Pollinator Award.
The winner of Conservation Greenkeeper 2022 is…Weybrook Park Golf Club! Congratulations!
At Weybrook Park Golf Club, Adam Olliver leads all the ecology initiatives on the 27-hole parkland golf course in Basingstoke. There are many ways in which Adam has improved the course to make it an ideal habitat for a variety of species, particularly birds. These include making and installing a swift box, owl box and a duck house on the course, which have all been installed in the last year.
Adam also created huge Skylark Protection Areas by roping off large areas of the rough. Signs and a map were created to engage with members and clearly mark where each protection area was. The work was successful with several pairs of Skylark breeding on the course last year which will help to boost the numbers of this declining species.
Other ecology work done on the course has been communicated to members by having more information signs. Elsewhere on the course insects populations are being supported by the addition of bug hotels.
This shows how you can save time, fuel, money and wildlife by simply cornering off areas of your golf course. By engaging with members you can easily ensure any ground nesting bird nests aren’t trampled. As Skylarks are a red-listed species, the protection of their nests is particularly important to help to boost their population numbers. Great work Adam!
The winner of Outstanding Environmental Project 2022 is…Cirencester Golf Club! Congratulations!
Cirencester golf club is located in the heart of the Cotswolds. Matt has been working at Cirencester golf club for 5-6 months. A previous winner of the conservation greenkeeper of the year award he has brought over some conservation ideas and plans from his previous position. Cirencester golf club is a parkland course with some calcareous grassland features located to the north of Cirencester in the heart of the Cotswolds.
The project focuses on expanding the rough areas of calcareous grassland across the site, through grassland and scrub management. The course is home to some expansive exposed south facing grassland slopes.
These slopes are home to the nationally rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly. The Royal Agricultural University has been using these slopes to conduct experiments on the ideal plant species and ideal scrub percentage cover for butterfly species, these experiment plots are monitored twice a month for the last 5 years. A series of experiments have been conducted studying density of scrub, plug planting and seeding cowslips and monitoring whether the planted cowslips are used for egg laying and larval feeding. The results of this research will be used to direct future management.
A really valuable project here that is not only helping to conserve a rare butterfly species, but a rare habitat too AND it involves working with the community which is really important! Fantastic work from Matt and his team!
The winner of Environmental Golf Course 2022 is…The Grove Golf Club! Congratulations!
The Grove estate is located in the centre of Herefordshire. The grove opened in 2003 as a multi-use estate, golf course, hotel, education centre, restaurants etc. Phillip has been the course manager since 2001 as the estate was being built.
Nature Conservation Around the course, all roughs are maintained as wildflower meadows. All trees on site were subject to an arboriculture survey to avoid removing any unnecessary trees and all felled trees are replaced. A chalk bed river runs through the centre of the course. The river has a 10m buffer along the edge for chemicals and regular maintenance activities. An area of wetland habitat is located out of play on the site. The wetland habitat is managed by the team and is used by cyclists and walkers as a picnic area. Dead wood piles, bug hotels, beehives are also present across the site.
Water Management The entire golf course was built with a full water harvesting and irrigation system in place. Weather stations are located across the site, split into 3 distinct areas. The weather stations control the water use at all 3 areas throughout the day. Some tees on site are currently under experimental hydroponic technology, pushing water from beneath into the rootzone of the turf. No aeration is needed, and the system is 100% solar powered.
All herbicide and fungicide have been replaced with organic versions. A 3-year program of biological
control of chafer grubs using nematodes has been underway with a local university.
Other sustainable practices
All staff take part in an annual litter picking day, targeted to the riverbanks and out of play areas of
site. All buggies on site were swapped for electric ones. An area of woodland out of play is used as an education centre, the woodland clearings for woodland management have been turned into sound gardens, using the dead wood as living walls.
They have created spaces for people to relax while on a walk, also including brass rubbings of different tree species for educational services
A walled garden has been created/regenerated by a small team over the lockdown months. The whole garden is based off a permaculture design to reduce the need for water and pesticides. The garden consists of vegetable and herb patches, all used in the restaurant menu. All honey produced in the garden is used in the restaurant and hotel spa products, and a local gin maker. The hops grown along terraces in the garden are sent to a local brewery to produce beer. All pathways and structures, benches are created from terracotta, bricks and stones which have been salvaged from the estate or salvaged second hand, including chimneys used to plant hops. Walls within the garden have been created to incorporate bug hotels/solitary bee homes.
As you can see, a tremendous amount of effort has been put in by all of these clubs. Some tasks are simple and actually reduce time and costs such as allowing rough to grow and cutting and collecting it once or twice a year instead of weekly. Other tasks may take more time but by working as a team and getting community groups involved you will easily be able to convert your golf course into an ecological paradise and hep to support biodiversity. We’re looking forward to seeing what our winners do with their £750 grant to go towards an ecological or environmental project and we hope that all the applicants of the GEAs 2022 keep up the superb work.
Post written by Meg Stone – Graduate Ecology and Environment Consultant at STRI Group Ltd.